I recently read this blog post from a Catholic blogger who shed some light on the ancient history and purpose of genuflection.

While striking his pose, Tebow is praying, and I don't believe any person objects to that. But what is clear is his use of an ancient Catholic practice—genuflection, which is done before Christ in the Eucharist—and only then. For a religion that has no history, no scriptures other than the expropriated scriptures of the Catholic Church, and no sense of sacred and profane, the barrowing (sic) of the gesture becomes fair game.

I don't think the author would have any reason to know much about when Evangelicals do genuflect or if genuflection is even what they'd call it. I'd imagine Tim Tebow is just "taking a knee" and praying like we did in my public high school before a game. But is there any circumstances where an Evangelical Christian would have reason to genuflect or is this just a quick aspiration to the Holy Spirit?

Tim Tebow in the act of Tebowing

In other words, what is he doing and why is he doing it?

  • 3
    I believe it's called "showing off".
    – hammar
    Dec 20, 2011 at 18:09
  • possibly, but if "ingratitude will not enter Heaven" as I think St. Theresa of Avila would say, then if he's showing gratitude, it's a good thing.
    – Peter Turner
    Dec 20, 2011 at 18:21
  • 5
    @hammar There's a lot of showing off in football. However, a player who drops to a knee and bows his head to say a prayer after he has returned to the sideline and is among many other players can hardly be called "showing off".
    – Narnian
    Dec 20, 2011 at 19:04
  • 1
    The blog author probably needs to study up on genuflection. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia it's not a particularly ancient gesture and the liturgy is full of genuflections that aren't directed toward the Blessed Sacrament. newadvent.org/cathen/06423a.htm
    – Ben Dunlap
    Dec 20, 2011 at 22:06
  • @Ben he's probably referring to the fact that when you're at Mass at a church that has for whatever reason removed the tabernacle from the sanctuary that you're not required to genuflect.
    – Peter Turner
    Dec 20, 2011 at 22:11

1 Answer 1


Outside of the Roman Catholic context, genuflection is simply kneeling or bowing to show respect. There's no right or wrong time to do this; the Bible doesn't say we must be on one knee before we take communion, nor that we must not genuflect at any other time.

In evangelical meetings, genuflection is sometimes used; sometimes as a result of an invitation to do so corporately, and sometimes spontaneously as individuals. You're likely to see the latter more frequently in more charismatic churches, where individuals are encouraged to express their worship in their own way, and to see the former more in more conservative churches, where there tends to be more direction from the front. But there's no real rule that I'm aware of in any of the main evangelical churches that says you must genuflect at some particular times. You're just as likely to see the raising of hands, or taking up of other postures, in exactly the same way.

I know little of Tebow - I prefer the kind of football where the foot and the ball actually make contact - but it would seem he is prone to kneeling occasionally, perhaps before a big kick or something; this kind of behaviour certainly isn't uncommon in sport (Jonny Wilkinson springs to mind). He might be praying, he might just be focussing his mind - we don't know for sure. We do know it's not necessary to be on one knee in order to pray, but we also know that such a motion may help to focus his mind and spirit on God (assuming he is praying) amid the noise and bustle of the football stadium.

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