Taken from "Mastering Jujitsu" by Renzo Gracie and John Danaher
The adoption of the prayer stance is an effective way of simultaneously handling the many factors involved in the tricky prelude to physical violence. This stance would be of no use in an MMA fight, but it is useful during the verbal precursor to real fighting that so often erupts in bars, clubs, the street, the highway, and so on. The chief advantage of this stance is that it is nonthreatening and safe. In other words, it does not lead to escalation, and it protects you if your antagonist judges you a weakling and decides to physically bully you. It also gives potential witnesses the impression that you were on the passive side of the dispute while giving you the time and confidence to determine if this person is serious about fighting or merely bluffing. To help you get the best out of a potentially hazardous situation, the prayer stance uses a combination of body language and sound positioning: The former helps defuse the situation and give the impression of passivity; the latter keeps you protected and able to move into the attack at a moment's notice.
The prayer stance involves your standing in front of your opponent with one leg slightly forward between your opponent's legs. This position helps protect your groin from any cheap shots. Keep your legs flexed, rear heel off the ground-this is an important detail. If you are flat footed, you are vulnerable to be being shoved backward. When your rear heel is raised and your weight is carried on the balls of your feet, it acts as a shock absorber and thus allows you to absorb a hard shove much more easily. In addition, it helps if you need to move quickly in any direction, should the situation get physical. Your two hands are pressed together as a person does in prayer. The tips of your fingers are around chin height.
The advantage of this stance is that it appears submissive. Your antagonist does not feel threatened by someone with his palms pressed together as though in prayer. This impression of peace is a real advantage. It prevents him from feeling the need to match and exceed your physical movements with his own. Most people make the mistake of either aggressively pointing their fingers, placing their hands on the other person, adopting a belligerent pose, or acting out some other physical action that escalates the dispute to another level.