Should We Raise Our Hands When We Worship?
I don’t know about you, but raising my hands in church has always been a struggle for me. Last Sunday, we were singing and part of me really wanted to just raise my hands, shut my eyes, and sing loudly. But, I stopped myself I looked around and saw that others had no trouble throwing their hands right up to God. So, why couldn’t I? I asked myself if we should raise our hands when we worship in church.
I do wonder if I’m alone in this confusion or if others around me feel the same way. Do they want to release their inhibitions and praise God or do they hold it in? When I’m home, I have no trouble with it. I still loudly, off-key, raising my hands to the sky. But at church, the most I can muster is one hand, partially raised or two palms up at my waist.
What on earth?
I guess there is a part of me that thinks it’s out of place in God’s house. But, to think of it, my house is God’s house. My body is His temple.
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)
If I’m at a sporting event, I don’t hold back when my team scores. I throw my hands up and shout.
When my daughter was on a gymnastics team, I shouted and threw my hands when they announced her name (to her great embarrassment).
When we attend musicals or plays, I have no problems raising my hands when the music sounds amazing.
So, why is it that I can do this for others but not for God?
I grew up without a church home. We would visit different churches from time to time but we never belonged to any and mostly stayed home. Some of the churches were very stoic. Some seemed downright out of control. Neither type made any sense to me. It was either overdone or underdone and I felt out of place in both.
When I was an adult, I started attending a Southern Baptist church. It’s where I was baptized. But everyone sang quietly, from hymnals, with no zeal. It was if it would be an offense to God or something to show some emotion. I’m not knocking that church, that’s just how it was.
But I think all of that is the reason why I struggle to raise my hands now. I feel that emotion when I worship, but struggle to raise my hands. And, even though I see others allowing their love to pour out, I still feel shy about it. I still wonder, is that acceptable?
The best place to find out is the Word itself.
Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
Psalm 47:1 (ESV)
Clapping my hands I can do. I have no problems, but shouting? Oh my!
People threw their hands in the air (like they just didn’t care) when they praised and prayed in the Bible.
8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
1 Timothy 2:8 (ESV)
Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.
Psalm 28:2 ESV (ESV)
So clearly, God is not offended that we raise our hands. He’s probably offended that I would throw up my hands at a gymnastics meet but not at church. Especially since I do feel led to do so, I just feel too sheepish to do it. And, I have no trouble doing it at home.
But this is my Father. Our Father. We should never be afraid of the Spirit when it moves us. If we’re too afraid to throw up our hands when we’re worshiping, what else are we holding back?
Next Sunday, if I feel led to toss up my hands to praise God, I will choose to do more than toss up a half-hearted hand wave. I will get my full arm up. Maybe that will lead to me getting both of my arms up. It may even encourage somewhat else to throw caution to the wind and toss her hands up as well.
Let the Spirit move you in the small things and it will turn into letting the Spirit move you with the big things.
Have a blessed day.