The praying mantis has all kinds of connotations in different cultures. Some believe it symbolizes good luck. However, since the praying mantis is not mentioned in the Bible, the symbolisms that can be drawn from this incredible insect are based on their unique characteristics.
What does the praying mantis symbolize in the Bible?
As the name suggests, the praying mantis is often associated with prayer. Christians believe that this insect represents piety and a commitment to personal spiritual devotion. This is based on the fact that the mantis usually has its front legs in the folded position as if they are in prayer.
Biblical symbolisms of the praying mantis
The praying mantis is often seen standing o their hind legs while folding their front legs with their head bowed. This praying position is typically influenced by two factors – the shortness of their front legs vis-a-vis their hind legs and their porosity to folder their front legs in readiness to strike prey at a moment’s notice.
The praying mantis, therefore, symbolizes the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian. Jesus modeled this by spending a lot of time in prayer either in the early mornings or sometimes late at night (Mark 1:35, Matthew 26:36; Mark 14:26). He also instructed his disciples to cultivate the discipline of prayer because it would keep them safe from temptation (Matthew 26:41).
Just like the praying mantis folds its hands in readiness to attack, the Christian must also stay alert and ready because the enemy can attack at any time. This is why Scripture teaches that Christians should pray continuously (1 Thess. 5:16-17).
The praying mantis has a remarkable vision. Not only do they have stereo vision but the placement of their eyes allows them to have a wider field of vision. Scientific research has established that the 3-D vision of the praying mantis works very differently from any previously known of 3-d vision in nature. Their eyesight is also boosted by the fact that the mantis can also turn their heads from one side to the other without moving any other part of the body. The incredible eyesight allows the mantis to easily hunt prey as well as easily see predators before they are hunted
The amazing sight of the praying mantis can be a symbol of the importance of vision. In the words of scripture:
Where there is no vision, the people perish: Proverbs 29:18
God is a visionary father who expects his children to follow suit. It takes a visionary person to walk by faith. Vision is the ability to see beyond your current situation. It is the ability to see through the lens of God.
Throughout scripture, we see how God used visionary men to fulfill his purpose. Moses had a vision of freeing the Israelites from Egypt. It pushed him to kill an Egyptian who he found mistreating a jew as recorded in the second chapter of Exodus. Abraham had a vision of a better life and he followed God without receiving too many details about the final destination. These are just two examples but the bottom line is, vision plays a significant role in our calling and God wants his children to be visionary as symbolized by the mantis.
The praying mantis is carnivorous and they have developed a test for live food. Some farmers even introduce them in their farms as a natural pest control. The Praying mantis feeds on crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, and other insects. While they have a wide palette, they have one important need – for them to catch their prey alive.
The desire to only eat fresh kill can be a symbol of the newness of life that Christians get in God. Scavenging is associated with the old man (old nature) while eating fresh kill is associated with the new nature. Also, just as the praying mantis can be used to control pests, God has planted his children on earth as his ambassadors to help influence the world and “kill” the pests that might be damaging his will on earth. The church is likened to the salt of the earth because they are meant to add flavor as well as preserve it.
The praying mantis are ferocious hunters. Apart from eating small insects, they also target larger prey – including prey they are not strong enough to go after. They go after spiders, arthropods, and even vertebrates. Some are even known to try to attack lizards, hummingbirds, and other small birds who come into their territory.
Even though they are always willing to hunt big prey, the praying mantis is also hunted by other predators like bats. However, the praying mantis does not go down without a fight. When cornered, they dive to the ground while executing loops and spirals in a bid to confuse the predator. If the predator catches them, they put a spirited fight by splashing or by using their spiky front legs to fight.
The praying mantis can therefore be seen as a symbol of boldness. As the scripture records;
The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1.
The Praying Mantis is a reminder that God has called his children into Boldness. Just like the Praying Mantis demonstrates, Christians should not be intimidated by the enemy who is always looking for a chance to steal, kill and destroy. On the contrary, they should stand firm and resist the enemy with a spirit of boldness. The Holy Spirit empowers Christians by giving them a spirit of power as opposed to a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7)
The most commonly accepted symbolism of the praying mantis is the symbolism of prayer. This is because the mantis is almost always in a praying position with its front legs folded and head bowed. However, this insect also symbolizes vision, freshness, and boldness. All these symbolisms are based on the unique traits of this insect.