Articles We Believe

Why Turn To East For Prayer?

Jews who live anywhere outside the holy city of Jerusalem traditionally turn to the direction of Jerusalem in Palestine ( modern Israel) for prayer, Muslims anywhere in the world will turn to Ka’aba, the sacred black stone in Mecca, Saudi Arabia for the prescribed hours of prayer.


Why do we turn to the East while we pray ? Can we not pray in any direction ? Since God is present every where and can hear our prayer, is it really necessary that we turn to a particular direction while praying?

Jews who live anywhere outside the holy city of Jerusalem traditionally turn to the direction of Jerusalem in Palestine ( modern Israel) for prayer, Muslims anywhere in the world will turn to Ka’aba, the sacred black stone in Mecca, Saudi Arabia for the prescribed hours of prayer. Christians from very ancient times used to turn to the direction of the rising sun for public prayer. For Christians in the western world this tradition is nearly lost. However all Christians belonging to the Eastern (Orthodox ) Christian churches still maintain this venerable practice of turning to the East for the public act of the community worship.

In the Christian church, we make a distinction between the personal prayer of an individual and the public worship of the Christian Community. An individual is free to pray any time, in any direction and in any posture. In fact, Christ and and the Apostles encouraged the practice of “unceasing prayer”. One can pray while taking a bath, playing or eating. One can maintain the mood of prayer through out the day. This kind of continuous prayer of an individual has no fixed form or style or words. This could be done mostly in silence or with words one chooses or with the help of ancient prayers like the famous ” Jesus Prayer”. This can be practiced without engaging our conscious mind at all. This is essentially the practice of the presence of God every moment of our earthly life.

But public worship is different in its form and style. It is a community prayer in which many individuals together constitute one body, an expression of the body of Christ, the Church. They are not an ad-hoc community, but they continue the unbroken tradition of worshipping the Triune God from the time of the Apostles onwards. The best example of this kind of public worship is the Eucharistic liturgy or Holy Qurbana. In public worship we turn to East, the direction of the rising sun.

The Apostles of Christ were all Jews. The early disciples of Christ in Palestine were mostly Jews. They prayed like other Jews. Soon however, Christians developed their own prayers addressed to Christ as the saviour.

Because of a new spiritual awareness in the early Christian community, Christians developed a detachment to physical places like Jerusalem. Their absorbing concern was with the “Heavenly Jerusalem” and the way to reach that abiding spiritual city. All places on earth were the same for them. No place was particularly sacred. So the early Christian community gradually moved away from the Jewish orientation to the city of Jerusalem in Palestine. At the same time a new sense of direction emerged in Christian worship, namely the direction of the rising sun.

This eastward direction developed in Christianity has a strong biblical basis:

1. In the biblical story of creation we read: ” And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed ( Gen. 2:8). Eventually Adam and Eve, after their act of disobedience were sent out from the Garden of Eden in the East. According to Christian interpretation, since the time of this expulsion of the first parents by the eastern gate of paradise (=garden), all children of Adam and Eve look back to their lost home, the paradise in the East, with a deep sense of spiritual home sickness. So salvation is understood partly as a return to the original home.

5 replies on “Why Turn To East For Prayer?”

My dear KM George Achen,
Warm greetings to you in the name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, the one true God maker of heaven and earth now and forever and ever. Amen. No need to comment that your article on the topic ” Why Turn to East for Prayer”? is unique in every sense. It is of course par excellence. But I have some doubts which I hope you would clear off.
1) In Ezekiel 8: 16 we see of 25 men praying facing towards east which happened to be an abomination in the sight of God. How do you view this?
2) In Ezekiel 1: 4, we read of a windstorm coming out of the north. Doesn’t it imply that the divine presence comes from the North direction?.

3)The Psalms75:6 says thus: “The judgement does not come from east, or from west or from south”. Doesn’t it mean that North has some importance?
4) In Genesis 13:14 and Deuteronomy 3:27, priority is given to North when said of other directions.

Looking eagerly forward for your response.
With love and Prayers,
George Achen, Ireland.

Dear Brethren,

May the peace of the Lord be with you!

I am assistant diractor in Bible In Risht and True Hands (BIRTHs) Ministry. We serve to get the Word of God out reach to the people who are looking for the Lord’s salvation for them.We do not have any church or affiliation with any kind of ministry. I studied your site and wish to become the part of you to work in my area through your guidance and through the same beliefs.

I pray that our coordination will bring many souls around us to be saved and get into the Kingdome of the Lord. I will be waiting for your response on this.

In Christ,

Faheem Qaiser

Beloved Father in Christ, George;

In Ezekiel we find men who are facing the opposite direction from the Holy of Holies. The original orientation of the Temple and of the Mishkan, the Tent of Meeting, was that the rising sun illuminated the entrance. This means that the earthly reflection of the heavenly reality was illuminated by the Light to Come. When He came we began to face him. The men in Ezekiel were condemned for looking for some other illumination than that which had been (so far) revealed. That is always to be condemned. Nothing is greater than the Revelation.

As for the direction of the North, it is as you point out the direction of the “storm wind.” When the priest blesses or signs with the cross in the four directions the North should be sealed and the South opened. Why? Because the “storm wind” is the aspect of God’s wrath and the “sea and the South shall be your inheritence,” that is, mercy shall be our lot and not wrath.

But as for me, please pray dear father, for I am a sinner and a cripple living in pain every day.

Dear Father T.George

Please go throuh following bible verses

Genesis : 2;8
Genesis : 3.24
Ezekiel : 43: 1&2
Ezekiel : 43:4
Ezekiel : 44; 1&2
yessiah ; 46:11
Ezekiel 10:19
Ezekiel 46:12
yessiah : 24:15

in new testament

Malachi : 4:2
MATHEW : 2:2
MATHEW : 2:9
ACTS 1: 9-12

MATHEW : 24:27


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