Prostration in our Church.

What are the different types of prostration?

Prostration is an act of bowing to the ground to show the state of being extremely weak or subservient to God, and hence asking for His help and forgiveness in front of His throne.  

“Do not neglect prostration. It provides an image of man’s fall into sin and expresses the confession of our sinfulness. Getting up, on the other hand, signifies repentance and the promise to lead a life of virtue”. Bishop Theoliptos of Philadelphia .  Mar Isaac said the following about prostration, “Do not think that prostrating yourself before God is a light matter. None of all the good deeds equals persevering in completing prayers with prostrations. Compel yourself to kneel down before God, for this invigorates the spirit of prayer. Persistence in offering bows every now and then, will give the vigilant worshipper the ideal atmosphere for worshipping.”

Prayer is usually accompanied with Prostration, since Our Lord has said, “The Lord thy God shall thou adore and to Him only shalt thou prostate thyself” [Mt 4:10]. The Gospel also testified that Our Lord and Saviour prayed in the night of His passion and prostrated Himself, saying, “He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed”[Lk. 22:41]. Let each prostration be accompanied by a noetic invocation of Christ, so that by falling before the Lord in soul and body you may gain the grace of the God of souls and bodies. Prayer should always be done in a way that the spirit moves toward the Creator either in thought only or with tongue which interprets the thought.

How do we prostrate?

Standing facing the East is the most frequent prayer position. The person begins by crossing the body with the sign of Cross.The person holds both fists at a ninety degree angle to the body. Both thumbs are on the top of the fists, making the impression of the cross itself on the hands. The person then prostrates by kneeling down, and then moves the head down to touch the ground, while the knuckles and both thumbs touch the ground. It is strictly forbidden for anyone to prostrate with the palms of the hands open. Then the person immediately rises from the ground, and the whole process is repeated a number of times.

In Our Church there are three types of prostration :-


  1. Worship prostration-  This kind prostration, kneeling and bowing of worship are only offered to God. The Prostration that is offered [Adoration] to God should only be done in spirit and in truth [Jn. 4:2:24].

  • “Then the Lord appeared to him [Abraham] ..the terebinth trees of Mamre, …So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three Men were standing by him…. he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground” [Gen. 18:1-3]

  • “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.  For He is our God”. [Ps 95:6-7]

  • “I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. 6 And I said: “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens” …..”while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God” [Ezra 9:5-6; 10:1].

  • “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” [Phili. 2:10].

Prostration made before the Arc of Covenant is also a prostration of worship to God. [Joshua 7:6; Philip 2:10].

  • “ Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening” [Joshua 7:6].

  • “Prostrating themselves on the terrace before the altar, they begged him to support them and to show himself the enemy of their enemies, the adversary of their adversaries, as the Law clearly states” [2 Maccabees 10:26]

According to Fitha Negest [Fitha Negest Article 14:35-37], the other times where we do this kind of prostration are: –

  • While entering a Church [Psalm 28:2] . David declares that “in reverence will I bow down toward Your holy temple” (Psalm 5:7).

  • When commencing prayer [starting prayer shall begin with prostrating once or thrice]. “Bow at the beginning of your worship, asking God from your heart, with humiliation, to give you patience and control over your thoughts during prayers.” St. Isaac  

  • Middle of prayer when one come across a word that require prostration “mention of the adoration of the Highest God”, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow” [Phili. 2:10]

  • At the end of prayer.

  • [The Church also order] Prostrations may be given as a task from our father of confession for the repentance of a certain sin, either for practice or as a corrective measure.

“Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor 14:40).