“In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.” – 1 Timothy 2:8.

Perhaps you have experienced it. You are in church. The band is rocking. The place seems to pulse with excitement. Some hands come up. The music swells and the hands reach higher. You are caught up in a moment of worship. You want to raise your hands. In fact, you want to dance. Maybe even shout out your gratitude to God. But you aren’t sure about the whole thing so you are content to sway a little bit and to soak it all in, hoping to grab more of the experience.

The Bible gives us reasons why we can lift our hands during worship, but never says we must express our faith in this way. God loves me in spite of my sin, and lifting hands during worship or prayer is just one way to show this. It is one way to make a connection with a supernatural God. 

People worship in a variety of ways in our group. Some raise their hands. Many do not. Some sit. Some kneel. Some stand. With that in mind, here are several reasons the Bible encourages us to lift our hands.

 Lifting our hands can be a desperate plea to our heavenly Father. “Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children for in every street they are faint with hunger.” (Lamentations 2: 19) Lifting your hands is an expression of gratitude. Lamentations 3:41 says, “Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven…” 

Just lifting your hands doesn’t glorify God. But if your heart is overflowing with gratitude, thanksgiving, or desperation to see God move, then we are lifting up our hands as an extension of our hearts. 

OK, I get all that. But do I have to lift my hands? The Bible gives us reasons why we can lift our hands during worship, but never says we must express our faith in this way. 

Raising your hands is not a sign that you are super spiritual or have an extra strong relationship with God. Reaching for God can’t bring Him closer to you, He already bridged that gap through the cross. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is what made a way for us to have a relationship with God, not whether or not we raise our hands during worship.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you like to raise your hands, or does that make you feel uncomfortable?
  2. What are some physical ways you can express your love and gratitude toward God?
  3. Does your view of worship change during Christmas?
  4. What can you do this week to improve your worship?