Question: Someone I know has a burden for her church. It has split several times. She said that once during a service she was so burdened for the church that she began to cry and ended up lying face down, prostrate on the floor in the back of the church crying and moaning into her tissues and the carpet. She said it didn’t draw attention to her because she was in the back where no one could really see her. Can you explain to me what this was all about?
Response: There are a number of examples of people in Scripture who have had a similar reaction and assumed a prone position before the Lord. When the Lord appeared to Abraham and made a covenant with him, Abraham acknowledged his unworthiness before God and “fell on his face” (Genesis:17:1–22). When the leaders of Israel were confronted with sin or very difficult situations, they knew that only God could deliver them. Consequently, they fell on their faces before Him and sought His favor and help. During the rebellion of Korah, the Scriptures tell us that “when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face” (Numbers:16:4). “And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them” (Numbers:20:6).
When Israel was defeated in their first attack on Ai because of the sin of Achan, “Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads” (Joshua:7:6).
When the prophets of God received a message or vision from God, they often fell upon their faces. Ezekiel wrote, “And when I saw it [the vision], I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spoke.”
A leper who came to Jesus for healing fell on his face and begged for mercy, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Luke:5:12).
We clearly see a precedence. What we don’t see is a methodology. In other words, if the burden of prayer (prompted by the Holy Spirit) brings you to this position, that is one thing. Too many, however, teach positions of prayer, actions taken during prayers, and other practices as something that guarantees the success of your prayer. That is a methodology and has no biblical support.
For the believer, however, “the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans:8:26).