From Public Prayer.
There have been some minor updating of old English words and punctuation.Standing is the fourth and last of the attitudes becoming and adopted in public devotion. And this, it is well known, was the posture adopted in the Church of Scotland; by our fathers, the Puritans, in England; and by the descendants of both churches on this side of the Atlantic. There is much to recommend this posture. We spontaneously rise in the presence of a superior. It is expressive of respect and reverence. We have also many examples of this in Scripture.
- When Solomon, in the midst of the thousands of Israel, made a prayer at the dedication of the temple, while the king himself knelt down on a platform of brass, all the people around him stood up, while they united with him in addressing the throne of grace. (2 Chr 6:13).
- When Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast, and offered up a solemn prayer, in the critical circumstances in which he and his people were placed, we are told that he stood upright, and that the whole multitude, not only the men, but their wives and their children, all stood and prayed. (2 Chr 20:5, 13).
- It was evidently the apostolical and primitive plan.
- The first General Council, as we have seen, in the fourth century, enjoined it by a solemn canon.
- It is a posture expressive of respect and reverence.
- It is adapted to keep the worshipper wakeful and attentive; while the postures of kneeling and sitting are both favourable to drowsiness.
"It is a mistake, growing out of forgetfulness of Jewish and early Christian customs, when some commentators see in the fact that the Pharisee prayed standing, an evidence manifesting his pride. Even the parable itself contradicts this notion; for the Publican, whose prayer was an humble one, stood also. But to pray standing was the manner of the Jews. See 1 Kings 8:22, 2nd Chr 6:12, Matt 6:5 & Mark 11:25. True, in moments of more than ordinary humiliation or emotion of heart, they changed this attitude for one of kneeling or prostration; see Dan 6:10, 2nd Chr 6:13, Acts 9:40, Acts 20:36, & Acts 21:5.
Hence the term station (statio) passed into the usage of the Christian Church on this account. It was so called, as Ambrose explains it, because, standing, the Christian soldier repelled the attacks of his spiritual enemies; and on the Lord's day the faithful stood in prayer to commemorate their Saviour's resurrection on that day; through which they who by sin had fallen, were again lifted up and set upon their feet."
— Trench on the Parables.It is to be remembered that this testimony [above] is from the pen of a distinguished clergyman of the Church of England. The posture of standing has been objected to by some on two grounds.
- First, as fatiguing to the feeble and infirm. But, if the officiating minister be tolerably discreet in the length of his prayers, this objection can have little or no force to those who are in ordinary health. It will, surely, rather be a relief than otherwise to stand up ten, or at most, twelve minutes, when the sitting posture is to be maintained during almost the entire remainder of the time allotted to the public service.
- It has also been alleged, in the second place, that the standing posture is unfavourable to close and solemn attention; that it tempts him who maintains it to look about him; and that it exposes females to be gazed at by surrounding worshippers more than other postures which might be adopted. But if there be really a devout spirit, and a disposition to depress the countenance, to withdraw the eyes from surrounding objects, and in any measure to cover the face with a fan or the handkerchief, it is easy to see that the objection before us may be as perfectly obviated as in any other posture.