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We know God answers “knee-mail”… but where did the term “knee-mail” come from?

definition of knee-mailThe short answer is, we don’t know for sure who coined this popular term, though we can guess with confidence that the term arose in the late 1990s. The earliest citation of the term in print is 2000, and presumably the term was circulating orally for a year or two it finally made it into print. If you recall,  in the late 1990s e-mail was becoming more commonplace in people’s homes and workplaces, so it seems like the right time period for someone to realize the hilarious pun of knee-mail and e-mail.

Knee-mail has all the makings of a Christian catchphrase: It rhymes, it references modern technology in a funny way, and it promotes the Biblical idea that God hears our prayers the instant we make them. What’s not to like?

In fact, the term caught on so quickly and was so widely used on church sign boards and on kitschy Christian merchandise that it almost immediately acquired the stink of cheesiness and cornball humor. Now it’s almost impossible to use the term without someone groaning or rolling their eyes. Be that as it may, it’s still a hilarious term and it’s still widely understood within Christian culture. There are moments when you want to mention prayer but you want to keep the atmosphere light and maybe humorous, and for those situations, the expression knee-mail might strike just the right tone.

The definition is below, and I’ll leave you with these words of timeless wisdom: when you send God your knee-mail, it never goes to his spam folder!


knee-mail n. [Pun on e-mail; from the common practice of kneeling while one prays] Prayer; a prayer.
See also *fight on your knees; *wage war on your knees.
2000 The Christian Science Monitor (3 Oct.) : There was a sign by a church. It said, “God Answers Knee Mail.” That’s because some people kneel when they pray. 2002 Cabrera What’s in Your Backpack? 75 : Send plenty of knee-mail to God. Knee-mail is prayer. Spending time on my knees is one of the best antidotes I know to solve any human dilemma. 2004 Thomas Becoming a World-Changing Family 145 : I just heard the term “knee” mail. Praying for my grandkids now has a new name. 2005 Spears Dict. of Am. Sl. and Colloq. Expressions : Prayer: “You’d better be sending some knee-mail on this problem.” 2006 Boa The Gospel According to the Da Vinci Code 117 : We put catchy slogans up on our church signs that say really trite things that we (somehow) think are clever: “God answers knee-mail.” 2010 Akin The Marriage Maze: Christian Couples 78 : Whatever the crisis, pray, pray, pray. Stay on your knees, God answers knee-mail. 2011 Woodsmall, Flaud Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home 99 : One type of communication is and always has been better than all the others. I call it “knee mail.” We can just think a prayer, and God receives it. No cell phone or computer is needed.
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