James 2:19 - "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."
When was the last time we trembled before God--physically trembled? For that matter, how often do we show any physical demonstration of belief in an Almighty God, whether we are by ourselves or with others? (And let’s be honest, bowing our heads when we pray has become more of a habit for many Christians than a result of true worship before God.)
We live in a culture that doesn't practice kneeling before others. Quite the opposite, our American mindset is that we bow to no one! So getting down on our knees before someone, let alone on our faces, is an idea foreign to us and completely against our nature.
But is not God worthy of our physical worship displayed by bowing before Him? We would be quick to say yes. Are we doing it? If not, how can we claim to truly believe it? Faith that produces no action is dead, which is the very context of the verse above.
It has been argued that we can bow in our hearts. This is definitely a mindset that we should have each time we pray, and of course, not every situation is conducive to getting down on our knees. But "bowing in your heart" is not an equal substitute for kneeling. The latter demands a measure of humility, which is necessary as we come before God in sincerity. Our posture affects our attitude.
I believe physically bowing is a great step in showing recognition of God's worth. From there, we can pray from a pure heart for God to help us worship Him in truth, and He will give us clearer glimpses of Himself. For starters, we can meditate on God's conversation with Job, the visions of God as recorded by Isaiah and Ezekiel, John's vision of the glorified Christ in Revelation, and several psalms that highlight God’s majesty and power. Seeing God more clearly, by faith that is based on scripture, will lead us to physically tremble in awe and reverential fear.
“The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea. Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever.” (Psalm 93)
“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” (Psalm 95:1-6)
“The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved. The LORD is great in Zion; and he is high above all the people. Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy. Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.”(Psalm 99:1-3, 5)
This is our God! Powerful, glorious, holy, lifted up on high, worthy of the worship of His creation! If we are not inclined to kneel and tremble before Him, we are not seeing Him as we should be!
Thankfully, we Christians do not have to tremble as the devils tremble. We have assurance of God's merciful forgiveness because of Jesus' death in our place! We have Christ in us, the hope of glory! Although I am sure we will tremble on our faces when we come the first time before His heavenly throne, we can look forward to an eternity of rejoicing in Him and with Him!
Looking at God to the extent that we physically tremble will produce in us an even greater adoration for Him Who lowers Himself to look on us!