Years ago I came across many Scriptures that had people raising their hands to God in prayer, like Solomon dedicating the temple and David crying out to God in praise in the Psalms. Over and over again, I saw people raising hands in the Bible.
I have always attended churches where it is considered a distraction for people to raise hands, even when a song said, “I will raise my hands.” I always thought that was silly, like singing the song, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” while remaining seated. (This actually happened at my friend’s church!) Sometimes one or two people would raise hands at my church, but by and large, it felt uncomfortable to do it. I didn’t want people to stumble by being distracted, so I didn’t do it. Besides, it was weird.
One day I decided to open my hands, facing upwards, but with my hands at the level of my stomach so it wouldn’t distract anyone. This position made me feel vulnerable before God, and I realized that my worship was much more intense as a result of it. It was almost as if the Holy Spirit filled me up in a fresh way. I felt a wonderful sense of freedom. I felt clean and peaceful.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband was in charge of the sound system, and I sat alone with my children a few rows back. As I was praising God, I decided to open my hands to God, but with my body blocking my hands. I knew the song, so I closed my eyes and sang with everything in me. As the song ended, I opened my eyes to see my five-year-old daughter with her hands raised straight up in the air. So much for being incognito! I smiled at her as I quietly lowered her hands. I didn’t look around – I didn’t want to know if someone had been distracted.
Then I realized something. Who cares? In fact, if my raising my hands makes me feel closer to God, then it might encourage someone else to raise their hands to praise God, too. And maybe that other person would feel the presence of the Holy Spirit just like me. Maybe it was a sin for me not to raise my hands, if the reason I did so was fear of what other people would think of me.
So today I did something bold. I actually raised my hands for real for the first time. I sang with all my heart, and I felt so much joy that tears streamed down my face. I felt the words of the song deep in my soul. This time I didn’t care that my daughter was copying me. I noticed that the worship leader’s wife was smiling at me as she raised her hand, too.