Francis D. Nichol was editor of the Adventist Review. This article was taken from his book Answers to Objections, pp. 352-353.

A reader calls attention to the statements in the Spirit of Prophecy that strongly advocate kneeling in prayer and then expresses perplexity over the fact that in certain of our religious assemblies there seems to be a tendency to have the congregation stand for prayer, even when there is ample room to kneel. He wishes to know what is really right in the matter. Undoubtedly in many instances there are valid reasons for asking a congregation to remain standing during prayer. But in any discussion of the subject of the bodily posture in prayer we may well consider the following from the pen of Mrs. White: "Christ's followers today should guard against the tendency to lose the spirit of reverence and godly fear. The Scriptures teach men how they should approach their Maker with humility and awe, through faith in a divine Mediator." The psalmist has declared:

"The Lord is a great Cod, And a great King above all gods . . . O come, let us worship and bow down: Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."

"Both in public and in private worship, it is our privilege to bow on our knees before God when we offer our petitions to Him. Jesus, our example, 'kneeled down, and prayed. ' Of His disciples it is recorded that they, too, 'kneeled down, and prayed. 1 Paul declared, 1 bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.' In confessing before God the sins of Israel, Ezra knelt. Daniel 'kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God.'" Prophets and Kings, p. 48.

Speaking personally, I like to kneel in prayer, for there is a certain relationship between pose of body and mood of spirit. It seems to me that a mood of contrite confession and genuine adoration can find best expression in the soul when one is on bended knee.

However, it would be sad indeed if in any of our churches we permitted the question of kneeling versus standing to become the occasion for controversy. In that event our prayers would likely avail little, no matter what our bodily pose.

Are our church buildings too fine?

A reader writes that he is troubled over the fine Adventist church buildings that are now being erected in some places. He seems to feel that structures much simpler, and thus less expensive, would suffice. He believes that when we spend money on these fine buildings we merit the criticism he declares he received from a non-Adventist who declined to contribute when he visited him at ingathering time.

I don't doubt this brother's sincerity others have expressed similar views at times but I'm unable to agree with him, and for certain definite reasons. In the first place, I don't believe that our presently constructed church buildings are too lavish. There is little or no evidence of ornateness in the interior finish. The exterior is occasionally stone, often brick, and not infrequently wood. In the case of virtually all of our larger church buildings, especially those erected in cities, the building code largely determines the nature of the building material, particularly with a view to fireproofing the structures.

I think of a further reason for not considering our church buildings lavish. A church is something more than four walls and a roof to keep out the rain. Rather, it is a monument constructed to the glory of God. Certainly it ought not to be a whit less well built or furnished than our own houses. It ought to be built and furnished at least a little better. Part of the witness that we bear in the community is the building that we erect for our services.

I'm wholly unimpressed by the criticism said to have been offered by the person approached for an Ingathering gift. I can recall the day when one of the favorite means by which critics tried to discount Adventists was to remark that they met in halls or in little run-down buildings on the edge of town. The comment was in part true, for we were very small and very poor in our earlier days. Let us be thankful that God has blessed us as the years have passed by, and that He has put it into our hearts to build a house for Him in our various communities.

We will never escape criticism, but we need not be troubled by the kind of criticism that grows out of the fact that we have respectable church buildings. Let us have more of them. We should never be content to meet in a hall any longer than is required to raise a fund to build a church. Let us constantly be in the business of rising up monuments to the glory of God. Such monuments stabilize the work in a community and put it at a great advantage.

Friendliness in the church

A brother writes with deep feeling of the "coldness and indifference" in his church. His beloved companion of many years has died. His heart is heavy with grief and longs for thoughtful words that will bring healing to sorrow and give him a sense of fellowship. But, he says, his wife was hardly buried before the church members seemed to have forgotten the tragedy. They appear to act—or so he interprets their actions—as if they thought he ought also to forget her as quickly and fall into a routine life.

It is not unusual for us to receive a letter from some member, often a new convert, who feels that more of a sense of friendliness should be evident in the church. Occasionally one even writes that he could be absent from the church for months and his absence not be noticed.

Now, it is difficult to evaluate accurately such strictures on the church. Friendship is a two-way street; it calls for reciprocal action on the part of two persons. Some people, by their very nature, make it difficult to be friendly with them. They may be excessively shy, slipping quietly, and they hope unobserved, into a seat, and as quietly and quickly hurrying away afterward. A person would need to be on the alert to intercept them. Or they may have some other quality, or defect, of personality that makes people hesitate to draw near to them in spirit. In other words, this much should be said in defense of the church: Many times, a part of the apparent unfriendliness is due to the very nature of the person who brings the complaint.

But having said this, I come to what seems to be a real lack in some of our churches. It is so easy for us to greet those whom we know and to forget that there may be a stranger in our midst. That stranger may have recently come into the faith. What a glorious opportunity for us to increase the circle of our friends and to bind more fully to the blessed Advent Movement someone who may still walk uncertainly among us. There would be a new zest to attending services if we made a special point out of seeking for the new face in the church and extending the right hand in greeting. After all, the real joy in living is found, not in money or houses acquired, or in honors secured, but in the fellowship of kindred minds. Perhaps the stranger has small children like your own. Ask about them. Nothing can bring a light to the eye more quickly than to have someone inquire about the children. In fact, it is so simple to make friends that it seems strange that most people do not have more.

Coming now, more directly, to the burden of the letter referred to in the opening paragraph. True, it is often hard for us to enter into the sorrows of others. But it is a heavenly skill eminently worth acquiring. Christ best displayed it. He entered deeply into the problems, the heartaches, the tragedies, of others. Those who came into His presence sensed that fact. Part of our development of character as Christians is the acquiring more fully of a feeling for the woes of others.

We need to be able, not simply to say a few sympathetic words the day of the funeral, but to maintain a genuine sympathy in the weeks, and probably months, afterward. We must never forget that though the funeral of Brother Jones or Sister Smith may be only a sorry statistic to us, it may be like the end of the world for the one bereaved. And it is always hard to rebuild a world, especially if it has to be inhabited alone.

Christ came to abolish death. Until that glorious day when death is swallowed up in victory, it is our joyous privilege as Christians to take from death as much of its dreaded sting as possible by applying, whenever opportunity affords, the soothing balm of genuine Christian love and solicitude. (Francis D. Nichol, Questions People Have Asked Me, p. 85-86.)

Francis D. Nichol was editor for the Review and Herald when he wrote this article.

Francis D. Nichol was editor of the Adventist Review. This article was taken from his book Answers to Objections, pp. 352-353.