This is how it's mentioned in the Bible:

Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

Nehemiah 8:6

but only Muslims pray with their faces to the ground.

I would like to know what Bible verses show the prescriptive way to pray?

  • 5
    Nehemiah is descriptive, not prescriptive. That's a fundamental distinction all readers of the Bible need to understand.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 3:41
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    Matthew 26:39 States that Jesus fell on his face and prayed. Again not Nehemiah. My coworker asked me this and I don't know what to answer him. Help Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 4:21
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    How can I find out the types of denomination and their specific views? Some of my family are Catholic some are pentacostal. Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 4:39
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    It's interesting how in Oriental and Western Orthodox rites they do include prayers by prostration. I wonder why this didn't carry over to the Western branch (or maybe became genuflection). Maybe the Muslims follow Syriac Orthodox practices ! From the wikipedia article on Prostration: Syriac Orthodox and Indian Orthodox Christians, as well as Christians belonging to the Mar Thoma Syrian Church (an Oriental Protestant denomination), make multiple prostrations at the seven fixed prayer times during which the canonical hours are prayed ... Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 5:03
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    I think the simple answer is that there’s no prescriptive way to pray. The precise movements of your body are not important in Christianity. Even in the context of ritualistic churches (not meant in a derogatory sense at all) like the Catholic church, the prescribed physical movements are from tradition, perhaps influenced by the Bible passages mentioned above, but not taken because they are deemed prescriptive in their own right. There are many cultures in the contemporary world that still do prostrate themselves in everyday life and it would make sense for them to pray in this way, …
    – user56152
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 7:48

4 Answers 4


Nehemiah's posture is only one of many recorded in the Bible.

Among the others:

  • Moses bowed low in reverence, and so did many others, but he also prayed with arms outstretched. (Exodus 9:27)

  • Abraham fell upon his face (Genesis 17:3).

  • Solomon prayed kneeling (1 Kings 8:54)

  • Jesus prayed looking up to heaven (Mark 6:41)

  • Others prayed with head bowed. (Genesis: 24:26)

  • Paul commanded people to pray "lifting up holy hands" (1 Timothy 2:8)

Given the variety of postures used and commanded, there is clearly not a posture of prayer that is the only correct one.

Jesus also cautioned against ostentatious prayer.

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    1 Timothy 2:8 is a good addition to your list. +1 Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 13:28
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    Added. Thank you. Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 18:39

No. Public displays of prayer are something Jesus instructed against.

When Jesus's disciples asked Him how to pray, he responded as follows:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'"

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6:5-15

From this, we can see that the public displays of submissive prayer, as it is practiced by Muslims, are something that Jesus warns against.

However, he doesn't speak about the proper posture of the body during prayer, so I don't think it matters. If it helps you attain the proper state of mind, it's fine. You can bow face first on the floor of your room like Muslims do if you wish, but you can also just nod your head and close your eyes while clasping your hands like many Christians do, or look up to the sky and spread out your hands like many Pentecostal Christians do.

  • I don't think Jesus condemned all public prayer (see John 11:41-42) but only hypocritical public prayer, praying in public so that one may appear to others as prayerful. Other that that...good answer. +1 Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 13:25
  • I was confused about this exact verse because didn't he prayed in the garden in public? Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 14:10
  • @jesusthemessiah, that was in private if you're talking about His prayer shortly before the crucifixion? He was alone with Peter, James and John. I wouldn't consider that public.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 15:13

A person can pray whereever and however they want. However, there are times and seasons and reasons for particular postures for prayer within Christianity.

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

John 4:21-24 NIV

The important thing is that we worship God in spirit and truth


Pope Francis Good Friday


The Good Friday Mass is the only time I've ever seen anyone pray face down. Never heard that it has anything to do with Nehemiah, but I wouldn't put it past the liturgists, they work in the Bible all over the place without people noticing.

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    The traditional Catholic mass included prostrations not only at the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday but also at ordinations of priests. Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 23:49

No everyone prays however they wish to pray to the Lord. You don't need anyone to tell you how to pray.

I add citations since my post was taken down.(copied from previous post)

Moses bowed low in reverence, and so did many others, but he also prayed with arms outstretched. (Exodus 9:27)

Abraham fell upon his face (Genesis 17:3).

Solomon prayed kneeling (1 Kings 8:54)

Jesus prayed looking up to heaven (Mark 6:41)

Others prayed with head bowed. (Genesis: 24:26)

They prayed differently at times so pray how you want to

  • 1
    Now this is just copying (without citation!) DJClayworth's answer! Please ensure that when you write an answer you are adding something new that helps address the question rather than just duplicating other answers.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 14:17

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