Raising Hands to the Lord
“I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.”- Psalm 63:4
I remember one Sunday evening service when I was a child; I looked up in the balcony of our church sanctuary and saw two military soldiers attending service. Growing up in Memphis, it was quite common in those days to see military personnel from the Millington, Tennessee Naval base come and attend worship services at our church. One of the two soldiers lifted his hands up in the air as the congregation sang a hymn. I had never seen anything like it before. I remember whispering to my step-mother and asking, “What is that man doing?” She told me that some people worship God by raising their hands.
In many churches, if you raise your hands during the service, you better be asking a question. Some people want to raise hands during a worship service, but they are afraid that they will be labeled as Charismatic! Christians should never be uncomfortable with raising their hands. But unfortunately many believers get wrapped up with and concerned about what others may say or think. They are afraid that by lifting up their hands to God, they would be drawing attention to themselves. Things such as tradition, fear, and pride can all play a pivotal role in hindering someone from lifting up their hands to God in worship a worship setting. But what must be remembered is the fact that lifting up your hands in worship to almighty God is all throughout the Word of God. So what does the Bible say about raising hands to the Lord?
To begin with, raising hands to the Lord is a sign of total dependency upon God. I am reminded of Psalm 28:2, where David wrote, “Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.” David makes it clear that lifting your hands to God is symbolic in nature; that it serves as a sign of your complete dependence upon God. We are but frail and fickle creatures, solely dependent upon creator God for everything. He is our source of everything, thus we are solely dependent upon Him. Secondly, raising hands to the Lord acts as an offering to the Lord. This is clearly depicted in Psalm 141:2 where it says, “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.” When you lift your hands to the Lord, it is an expression of faith in God that you are giving to Him your all. Furthermore, the apostle Paul wrote to young protégé Timothy in 1Timothy 2:8 and explained that raising hands to the Lord must be done having the right relationship with others. He says, “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” These passages are glorious truths that every Christian should ponder upon. It would be good for us to remember that the only way that you can “vertically” lift your hands in right relationship to God is if your “horizontal” relationships with others are in right order as well.
The various postures of worship recorded within the pages of scripture include prostrating ourselves, kneeling, eyes lifted up, eyes cast down, and hands raised. So raising hands to the Lord is most certainly an appropriate posture for worship to almighty God, and it is even encouraged within the scriptures.
There is one last thing that would be good for us to consider. Raising your hands up to the Lord cannot be done properly until you have given Him your heart. The Bible makes this clear in Lamentations 3:41 when it says, “We lift up our heart and hands toward God in heaven.” The order of things within this text cannot be ignored. Notice that God wants your heart before He wants your hands. Perhaps one reason you can never imagine yourself lifting your hands in worship is because you haven’t even given God your heart yet! Know this; you can’t worship God correctly until you know Him personally.