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Are We Hypocrites to Stand While Praying?

What’s the correct praying position? Should we pray on our knees, or stand to pray? How do we make sure not to pray like the hypocrites mentioned in the Bible?


Is Praying While Standing Allowed?

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Question:  Jesus Christ teaches that when we pray, we should not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing inside the synagogues and on the corners of the streets that they may be seen by men (Matthew. 6:5). Why is it then that your congregation stands while praying? Isn’t this practice, like what the hypocrites do, and doesn’t this practice contradict what is written in Psalms 95:6 which says, “oh, come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our maker”? 

-Rex Roxas


Brother Bob Pellien: Thank you so very much, Mr. Roxas, for your wonderful question. Prayer is so important. So, any question about prayer is extremely valuable because prayer has to be done properly. When the Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples the proper way of praying, let’s find out, [did] He forbid them to be standing while praying?

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Did He forbid them to be standing while praying? 

Wrong motives for praying

Brother Bob: Let’s go straight to the Scriptures and a quote of the Lord Jesus recorded in Matthew 6:5 where He said this:

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

[Matthew 6:5 New King James Version]

Brother Bob: So, dear friends, because of these words of Jesus, Mr. Roxas and, in fact, others as well, draw the conclusion, therefore, that if one stands while praying, it is wrong. Not only wrong but even hypocritical. But if we closely analyze the verse in the words of Jesus here, Christ was not questioning the position of their bodies, but, rather, their motives; the motives of those who pray. 

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Christ was not questioning the position of their bodies, but, rather, their motives. 

Brother Bob: That’s why here in Matthew 6:5 what Jesus was highlighting and why He was calling them hypocritical was because they love to pray standing in the synagogue. For what reason? So that they would be seen by men. That was their motive. They wanted to be seen by other people that they [were] praying, they’re good, they’re religious, they’re holy, or whatever. And Jesus called them out on it, even called that attitude, or that motive for praying “hypocritical.” The prayers of hypocrites who seek their own glory—that’s what would make a person’s prayer unacceptable to the Lord. 

Well, the Holy Scriptures, dear friends, does record an instance wherein a person was praying, beseeching God while standing up. And let’s check—was his prayer accepted by God or was it rejected because he wasn’t kneeling down? Was it rejected because he was standing? It was narrated by our Lord Jesus Christ here in Luke 18:10-14. It reads this way: 

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get’. “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

[Luke 18:10-14 New International Version] 

Brother Bob: So, dear friends, what can we notice about the Pharisee and the tax collector? 

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Question: What can we notice about the Pharisee and the tax collector? 

Brother Bob: Both prayed. They were both standing when they offered their prayers to God. But what was the difference?

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Question: What was the difference? 

Brother Bob: Well, one was accepted by God and one was rejected—or let’s say their prayer was disqualified. What else can we notice? Both were standing when they prayed, but there was a difference. The tax collector who humbled himself and acknowledged his shortcomings and sins, well, that’s the one that was justified because of his humility. The Pharisee, who boasted of his good deeds, was unacceptable. But both were standing. Dear friends, furthermore in His teachings, did our Lord Jesus Christ ever teach that standing while praying is wrong? 

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Question: Did our Lord Jesus Christ ever teach that standing while praying is wrong? 

Can you pray while standing up?

Brother Bob: Let’s take a look at another of His statements. This one in the book of Mark 11:25:

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” 

[Mark 11:25 New International Version] 

Brother Bob: So here, dear friends, the Bible clearly records that the early people of God stood while praying. And that was one acceptable position when praying to God. Maybe someone will be thinking, “Well, maybe that was just an isolated incident. Maybe that was an exception to the rule.” Are there any other biblical proofs or evidence that standing while praying is a common practice of God’s people? Let’s turn again to the Holy Scriptures. This time, we turn to I Chronicles 23:30 wherein it says this:

They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening

[I Chronicles 23:30 New International Version] 

Brother Bob: Now that was not an isolated instance. They clearly stood regularly while praying. Any other biblical example? Dear friends, there are plenty. Let’s read yet one more. This one is from I Samuel 1:26: 

and she said to him, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD.

[I Samuel 1:26 New International Version] 

Your approach is more important than prayer position 

Brother Bob: That clearly was a common practice. They stood while praying. But does it mean to say that one has to be standing? What about kneeling? Isn’t kneeling an acceptable position when approaching God in prayer?

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Question: Isn’t kneeling an acceptable position when approaching God in prayer?

Brother Bob: Dear friends, of course, it is. But what does the Bible have to say about kneeling? Well, we can take a look, yet once again, at the Lord’s teachings and guidance to us. Luke 22:41:

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,

[Luke 22:41 New International Version] 

Brother Bob: So, what would be a mistake? What would be wrong? It would be wrong to conclude that those who stand while praying are hypocrites because of the position of their body. Prayers can be said while one is sitting, standing and, clearly as we just read, kneeling down. Why? It’s not the body position that measures the acceptability of one’s prayer to the Lord, but rather the humble approach and state of worthiness in the eyes of the Lord when we approach in prayer. 

Mr. Roxas, thank you for your question. And [from] all of us, we thank you for joining us. When you’re ready to learn more about the fundamental truths, the teachings found inside the Church Of Christ here in the Holy Bible, visit

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Are We Hypocrites to Stand While Praying?