Monday, January 31, 2011

Lifting Our Hands

I think most of us have become comfortable with people raising their hands in church. We know that we are indeed encouraged to do so by Paul in 1Ti 2:8, "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."

Often when something becomes the 'thing to do', what we lose is the reason WHY we do it.

Do we know what it means to raise our hands to God ? or what it SHOULD mean ?

I realize over and over again how God has made His ways and words clear to us because they relate to the physical things we understand easily. The understanding of the spiritual often lies in understanding the physical.

We have so many readily recognized meanings of raised hands in our every day life that are symbolically true of the spiritual as well.

1. A Sign of Surrender --- We all have visual images in our mind of people taken captive with their hands raised in surrender. It is a universal sign that a person is 'giving up', that he has nothing left to fight with.

Is that what we are also saying to God ? "God, my hands are raised... I surrender to you ... Not my will .. but yours, O Lord!"

2. Clean Hands -- Who has not as a child been asked... or as a mother asked... "show me your hands" ? We recognize the importance of clean hands to our overall health.

I love Psalm 24:3,4 "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart."

Do we lift up our hands to the Lord saying... "Examine my hands - my heart - O Lord... are they clean ?? May I come before your throne, into your Presence?"

3. Reaching for the Father -- I love to see how quickly and naturally the small child reaches up their hands for the parent -- wanting to be picked up !

Is that what we mean when we lift our hands to God ? "Oh Lord, pick me up! I am reaching for you and you alone. Hold me where I am safe and secure!"

4. Lifting our hands to Honour -- I watch the concerts/public rallies/gatherings/sports events where a sea of hands are in the air honoring some hero.

Are we lifting our hands high to honor the One to Whom all honor is due ? Saying "To you alone is all glory and honor forever and ever... There is none other but You !"

5. Lifting our hands to Receive -- Little ones so naturally lift up their hands in expectation to receive something from the hand of their parents.

Are we also expectant when we lift our hands to God ? Do we desire what is in His hand to give us ? Do we reach up in faith to receive it?

6. Humility.. Raising our hands is an outward act of humility... Opening our body leaves us vulnerable ... we tend to want to protect ourselves by holding our arms tight around our body. As parents we are all amazed how quickly a child shows his independence by folding his arms tight and saying .. "NO!"

Lifting our hands to God is saying that we have nothing in ourselves... we are needy and longing for more ... "More of you, Lord and less of me, I trust not in my own riches or strength or wisdom."

"I would that men/women everywhere lift holy hands ... " The next time we are in a service or in our private time of prayer ... let the act of lifting up our hands be full of meaning to us and a wordless expression of prayer to God.



Karin said...

Having been raised in a church that didn't lift hands in worship and then later attending a church that did, I can totally agree with your list. Every one of your points entered into my decision to lift my hands in prayer and worship, the most important for me being #1 - that of the picture of total surrender! Love this list!

Marg said...

You raised some very good points. I have a dear friend who has suggested that I raise my hands in total surrender also...I find it difficult as I feel I surrender my heart to God. I will continue to raise my heart to God, and however that looks..I'm not always sure..but I know God hears.

ellen b. said...

I really enjoyed this explanation. I, too, like Karin was raised in a church that never lifted hands. Since then I've been in churches that have been more demonstrative in their worship.

Lovella ♥ said...

I had not ever thought of why I do but it certainly has not been because my neighbor does. It has felt a natural response when my heart is deeply touched by worship. The list you set out makes so much sense and I appreciate knowing why my soul longs to raise my hands high.

betty r said...

Great post Julie..I grew up in a church that did not lift up their hands in worship but the one I attend now now many do. I don't think it matters to God the way we worship, whether it's lifting our hands or quietly in our long as we are obedient to the Holy Spirit's leading.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Good thoughts on the lifting of hands. It's not something that comes naturally to me...since I grew up in a non-hand-lifting church as well. But my wish is to honour Him...with my heart and soul...and hands.

Kathy said...

Our worship begins in the heart and overflows outwardly in expression to God. That can be shown in many ways. I really liked your thoughts here today. I am one who finds it natural to raise my hands, and it is for God and me...what the next person does is between them and God. It is the heart of worship. Thanks for another post that gives me something to think about.

Andrew Chapman said...

I hope this doesn't cause any offence, but it's actually incorrect to say that both men and women are addressed in 1 Timothy 2:8 - the Greek word ἀνδρας refers specifically to us men. A different word ἀνθρωπος, which is inclusive of both men and women is used in 1 Timothy 2:1,4,5.

Blessings in Christ Jesus,