As a worship leader there is no greater satisfaction for me than to see hands raised in surrender and worship to the Lord. The raising of hands in worship has at times and in different churches been somewhat controversial for all sorts of reasons; and most of them wrong.
Some would say it is showy and we should not make and outward show of our inward worship. A scripture used may be this from Matthew 6:18 :
" ...so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. "
Sometimes our conservative culture is the reason we "exercise self control and show restraint in these matters"....
Jesus talked often about doing things in secret, but when it comes to corporate praise and worship, I believe it is a totally different thing. As the word suggests, Corporate is something we do together.
In my experience there are 3 main reasons why people raise their hands in church during worship (other than at the urging of the worship leader)
The first is in jubilation and celebration.
Psalms 111:1 " Praise the Lord!
I will praise the Lord with my whole heart,
In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation."
With my whole heart. That would indicate with every effort I can muster.
The Hebrew word for praise here is 'Yadah' The translation for this word praise is: literally, to use (i.e. hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands); "
In Psalm 150 we read these words:
"Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!"
The word for praise here is 'Halal ' (from which we derive the word hallelujah. Halal means praise, Yah is God. )
Halal means: to make a show, to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; causatively, to celebrate; also to stultify: — (make) boast (self), celebrate, commend, (deal, make), fool(-ish, -ly), glory, give (light), be (make, feign self) mad (against), give in marriage, (sing, be worthy of) praise, rage, renowned," ...you get the idea.
When we praise God it involves an outward manifestation of joy, celebration and great noise, and the raising of hands...
The second reason we raise our hands is in Adoration. It is when we have such absolute love for our saviour, we just want to be closer to Him.
One of my favourite memories of when I was a young father of small children, is coming home from work in the afternoon. I would drive up our driveway and beep the horn. The next thing Tambrey would open the front door and all the kids would come piling out and run to the car to see who could get there fastest for me to pick them up. Those kids adored their father!
That's what it's like: when a small child raises its hands to its parent looking to be picked up, held and cuddled. It's very relational and intimate. When I raise my hands to God in this way, it's like I want to be close to Him; to hug and love Him, to hear Him whisper in my ear: "I love you, son!"
Psalms 63:4. "Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name."
Psalms 134:2. "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,
And bless the Lord."
When you watch a war-time movie or a Wild Western, what is the term used when a surrender is forcibly demanded? "Stick 'em up! "; "Hands up". When the white flag of surrender is raised, and those that are surrendering have their hands raised as the "I give up" symbol.
The raising of hands is commonly associated with surrender. Christians who raise their hands will often do the same for the same reason, but with one difference: when I raise my hands in surrender to God, it's not because I have a gun at my head. My surrender to God in worship is out of love and total commitment. I have a mental picture of surrender in which I am down on my knees, with my hands raised before a crucified Christ. I want to be surrendered to the One who surrendered everything for me and gave up His life so I could live... I surrender.
Exultation, Adoration, Surrender.
All three motivations for the raising of hands are voluntary responses. All three responses are motivated by love. When hands are raised, I see people connecting with God in an intimate, joyful, exuberant, surrendered display of affection and Worship.
Whether you choose to raise your hands or keep them by your side, is up to you. Whether someone else chooses to or not, should be their decision. Personally, when I am in a place of intimacy with God, I can't help but raise my hands.
Do you raise your hands?
Have a great week.