Why Do People Raise Their Hands In Church?
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Why Do People Raise Their Hands In Church?

These Are Holy Hands

I came across an article on another blog called Patheos that I thought you might be interested in.

The man who writes this article is Dr. Mark D. Roberts and he comes from a Presbyterian background. It is the exact opposite background that I come from. I was and am, although modified, one of those Pentecostals that he was talking about that reveled in demonstrative worship.

Image of people worshiping

I remember those days where we did think that we somehow were more “spiritual” than other believers because we raised our hands in worship. In fact, we did a lot of things that made us believe we were somehow superior.

I believe in the raising of hands. I think it has a place and if used and viewed in its proper context can be something that produces the right type of fruit in a Christian’s life.

The raising of hands is a universal body signal or language if you will.

When a child raises their hands they are asking to be placed into a parent’s arms.

When an adult raises their hands it is a sign of surrender.

Both of those are very applicable to the believer in Jesus. We should want to be placed into our father’s hands and we should surrender to His will.

So anyway without me preaching a sermon, let me share with you part of Dr. Robert’s take on raising hands in worship.

Lifting Up Holy Hands Has Become Common In All Churches

June 3, 2012, By Mark D. Roberts

When I was a boy, verses like Psalm 134 worried me. Scripture seemed to be clearly calling me and my fellow believers to lift our hands in prayer, but we Presbyterians didn’t do it. That was for “other people,” especially those of the Pentecostal variety who made us Presbyterians very nervous. We tended to view raising your hands in worship as an inappropriate display of emotion. Never mind the fact that Scripture, in both Old and New Testaments, calls us to lift our hands in prayer ( see 1 Tim. 2:8, for example). For some reason I couldn’t understand, those passages didn’t apply to us. But, as an introverted and nondemonstrative sort of person, I was glad I didn’t have to raise my hands in church. I may have worried about it, but I certainly didn’t want to do it.

Fast-forward 40 years. Today, it’s not uncommon for worshipers in all sorts of churches to lift their hands in worship. This gesture is not just for the Pentecostals and Charismatics anymore. It has become increasingly common among Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Independents, Catholics, and, well, you name it. This is especially true for folks under 30, for whom raising hands in worship seems to be almost commonplace. Although I still lean in the direction of nondemonstrative worship, I’m glad God’s people have discovered greater freedom to worship with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. I’m even more pleased that we feel the freedom to do that which Scripture commends in our prayer and worship.

But I’m also happy that some of the “super-spiritual” pressure associated with things like raising hands in worship seems to have dissipated. For a while, as Christians in my tradition were resisting hand raising, others were insisting that such actions were necessary expressions of deep spirituality. Thus, the traditionalists were judging the hand-raisers and vice versa. Such disputes did not deepen the worship of God’s people. Rather, arguments about things like hand raising tended to create resentment and division. More worrisome, they took our focus off the Lord and put it on ourselves. Nothing gets in the way of genuine worship more than undue self-absorption.


 Bible Verses About Raising Our Hands.

Leviticus 8:27

He put all these in the hands of Aaron and his sons, and he lifted them up as a special offering to the LORD.

Ezra 9:5

At the time of the sacrifice, I stood up from where I had sat in mourning with my clothes torn. I fell to my knees and lifted my hands to the LORD my God.

Psalm 63:4

I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.

Psalm 134:2

Lift up holy hands in prayer, and praise the LORD.

1 Timothy 2:8

In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.

Final Thoughts On Hand Raising In Church

Early in my Christian life, I had a very wise pastor who is still my friend today. His name is Chuck Boman and he was the pastor of Corbett Christian Church in Corbett Oregon.

It was not a charismatic church and in fact, had its roots in the disciples of Christ movement.

He was asked one time what He thought of people who raised their hands in church. He answered in his typical down to earth and lovable manner,

“As long as they wash their armpits I don’t care.”

I loved Pastor Chuck for all the simple words of wisdom that he gave and showed me over the years.

Raising your hands in prayer or worship (which should be a form of prayer) can be a very personal and sacred experience for the believer but only as Dr. Roberts says if it is done for the right reasons and motives.

Raising hands in worship image

What do you think of raising your hands in worship? Is it something that you do? Are you comfortable with others that practice this form of worship? Is it allowed in your church? Has it become commonplace?

I would like to encourage you, even if you are not a demonstrative person, to ask your Heavenly father to pick you up and place you in His arms in the privacy of your quiet times and in your prayer closet by lifting your hands up to Him.

Surrender your will to His will by raising your hands in surrender. It could very well change your life.

Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.