Why do I feel shame when I pray on my knees?

Why do I feel shame when I pray on my knees_ When I think about praying on my knees, I don’t think about giving God glory. Instead, painful images of my past fill my mind. Intense feelings of shame and brokenness flood my heart as I think back to those days when I cared more about being loved by a guy than desiring the love of my heavenly Father. Those moments defined me, gave me power and created a hole in my heart that longed to be filled.

Two weeks ago, I started a journey of praying daily on my knees with my new friend from seminary, Ashley. During the process, I felt uncomfortable kneeling down before God, but it was not until I read this blog post by Ashley that I began to understand my feelings.

If you have experienced shame from a past of sexual sin, I pray that you would begin to experience the redeeming power of Christ. Join me and Ashley on the journey to healing as we pray on our knees.

xoxo Joy

I’m not going to lie. Hillsong sang that I would touch the sky when my knees hit the ground. I rolled the dice to pick my spiritual discipline I would dabble in for a week: Prayer.

So my knees hit the ground. And I waited. And I expected to touch the sky.

After all, prayer – especially on my knees – is holy. A quick and easy way to fall at the feet of Jesus. But I can’t lie about this one either…

The moment my knees hit the ground, I felt awkward. It took me back to freshmen year of high school when my schedule got switched around and my lunch period changed and I had no one to sit with and it looked like everyone already had their “assigned seats,” so I ran away and ate my brown-paper bag ham sandwich in the girls’ locker room. Alone. Awkwardly panicked and alone.

Here’s what I’ve felt as I’ve started this journey of praying on my knees:

1. Uncomfortable. – Literally, uncomfortable. I have cold, concrete floors in my bedroom that seem to seep through even the plushest rug. My bed frame is just low enough to the ground that as my aching knees hit the cold concrete, I have to crouch down so low to get my elbows to reach the bed.

Plus, am I supposed to clasp my hands? Or open my hands to the sky, ready to receive a magical gift from God?

Joy joined me on this praying on your knees journey and after day one we both said, “It kind of hurts.” A pillow! That’s what we needed to be comfortable. But maybe there’s more to this idea of comfort. I don’t know what to do on my knees and I feel like a child.

2. Impatient. – How long am I supposed to pray on my knees, hunched over my low bed with my knees aching? Would He hear my prayer louder if I suffered in pain for Him? Is it still a spiritual discipline if I set an alarm on my phone?

I found myself squinting, trying to peek out of the corner of my eye to catch a glimpse at the clock. Has it been long enough? Why haven’t I touched the sky yet? Did He see me peeking?

3. Impure. – This one I wasn’t expecting. As my knees hit the ground and I assumed the position of hovering over my bed, Satan flooded me with images of my past. In the dark days of living a double life, sinking deeper and deeper into a slimy pit, a bed symbolized a lot more than just a place of rest.

I couldn’t escape the rushing visions and voices of the men…no, the boys…who told me I was doing such a great job or joked about leaving money on the counter or who didn’t care how many other beds there had been as they used my body as a tool. And it was my tool, too, to keep them around. I carried the power around in my back pocket to lure them in and entice them to stay and to love. Or at least that’s what my warped mind told me.

Assuming the posture of an innocent child, kneeling at her bedside, why would Satan choose this space to flood me with my sinful past? The first two days were spent defending the roaring lion that swarmed into my room and lurked by me at my bedside.

My purity was robbed and I needed God to redeem this bed to a place of grace, forgiveness, cleanliness, and complete purity.

4. Stuck. – Overcome by the resurfacing of dark flashbacks, I didn’t know what to do. I felt stuck. Who was I supposed to pray to anyways? God the Father feels so far away. Can I pray to Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?

So I flipped to the Psalms. Maybe my eyes couldn’t be closed to read the Psalms, but the Holy Spirit could work through these poems that danced through the same struggles I felt. Here I could find the deep groans of my soul that I couldn’t find the words to pray.

Again and again, I would feel led to a Psalm that etched into my mind the character of God: Gracious. Compassionate. Slow to anger. Abounding in love.

Psalm 103:2-5 was on my heart, every night, as I worked hard to not slip into dark regret.

“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

5. Transformed. – Praying on my knees hasn’t been the simple and innocent discipline that I expected. But I’m going to keep showing up. When my knees hit the ground, there will be a day when it won’t be clunky and awkward.

I already feel my soul breathing and my spirit soaring with every uncomfortable moment, bowed in awe and worship.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18.

For me, this is a process of starting to feel transformed. It’s a journey. It might take time. But I will keep inviting my heavenly Father to meet me and comfort me here, through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit to hear my deep groans and shape my words.

During Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers with loud cries and tears. And He was heard. Will you join me in praying on your knees, crying out to be heard?

One day, our knees will hit the ground and He will sweep us up…without any visions of past regrets…and our souls will dance with the pure innocence of a child kneeling before her heavenly Father.

Meet Ashley: You can find Ashley dabbling with words at ashleytieperman.com. Ashley and Joy met during a movie night at Dallas Theological Seminary where they instantly bonded over Gilmore Girls and blogging! Working on her Master’s in Media Arts and Worship from Dallas Theological Seminary, she enjoys the challenge of expressing her faith through real and honest stories. After a Top 20 most recommended article on Medium, her work recently traveled all the way to Australia’s Mamamia. Find her on Twitter @atieperman.

Why do I feel shame when I pray on my knees?

2 Comments on Why do I feel shame when I pray on my knees?

  1. Amy
    November 9, 2015 at 10:46 am (5 years ago)

    Thank you both for your honesty! For several years after I was raped, my bed felt like a very scary place. I couldn’t have any serious conversations there or bring anyone near my bed, even God. Thank you for the reminder of His grace and redemption. I have renewed courage, faith, and appreciation for Him because of this post.

    • joypedrow
      November 9, 2015 at 1:21 pm (5 years ago)

      Hi Amy, Thanks for sharing your heart with us. I am also a victim of rape. God has been redeeming my past and allowing me to experience His holiness through praying on my knees.

      I’m praying that God will redeem your bed and allow you to experience his rest, love and redemption.
      xoxo Joy


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