WHY DO PEOPLE LIFT THEIR HANDS IN WORSHIP?

PSALM 141:1-2: “A psalm of David. ADONAI, I call to You— come quickly to me! Hear my voice when I call to You. May my prayer be set before You like incense. May the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” TLV

OBSERVATION: Have you ever wondered why people raise their hands in worship? Do you raise your hands in worship, but honestly it has just become something you do without thinking of why you are doing it? What is the significance of raising my hands as I worship the Lord?

I will never forget the first time I walked into a church where people raised their hands in worship. I grew up in a liturgical church where this expression of worship was never seen. The atmosphere was very serious, and even laughter was rarely a part of our service, even if the pastor said something humorous in his message. Searching as a young man, I wandered into a church that was filled with “Jesus People” during the Jesus Movement in the 1970’s. They not only lifted their hands, they clapped, they rejoiced, and they laughed. It was far too much for me. I left right in the middle of the service!

Yet, there was something that intrigued me about people who were truly engaged in worship. Truth be told, I knew the liturgy from front to back, and I would recite it without even thinking about it. These people seemed to actually be thinking about what they were both doing and saying. There was an authenticity that I had never seen. I was uncomfortable, but it drew me back. The next time I stayed for the entire service.

I never walked up to answer an altar call. But I did want any respectful person from my background would do. As the Lord began working in my life I began a migration from the very back pew, ever so slowly, up toward the front, one pew at a time. And then it happened. I realized that I was not only engaging in worship, I was lifting my hands, I was clapping, I was rejoicing. The Lord had slowly defrosted my life until I was on fire for the Lord. Worship and the lifting of my hands became as natural as reciting the liturgy.

And herein lies the problem. Anything we do that has meaning can lose its meaning as we do it. When I was on fire for the Lord I went back to my parents church, the church I grew up in. When I recited the liturgy I was deeply convicted. The words I recited without thinking about them were direct quotations from the Psalms and the Word of God. I had been reciting God’s Word without any thought, without any respect, without any meaning for years. Is it possible to raise my hands in the same way? Absolutely!

David gives us a powerful glimpse into the true meaning of raising our hands in worship. It is not simply something we do because others do it. It is something we are doing to express our devotion and commitment to the Lord. It is a personal expression of our spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the natural expression of a heart surrendered in love to the Lord. David cries,

  • “May the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.”

Every morning and evening the Burnt Offering was given upon the altar for the Nation of Israel. It was the offering of the covenant. It was a continually reminder that they were in covenant relationship with God through the sacrificial blood of the of offering. David looked upon his worship as a sacrifice. He lifted up his hands in surrender to the Lord as a living sacrifice. It was the most personal expression of worship and surrender that he could give. Paul echoes these words in his letter to the Romans.

  • “I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy, acceptable to God—which is your spiritual service.” Romans 12:1 TLV

Jesus Christ has become the final sacrifice for sins. His blood has sealed the covenant relationship with God and man through faith. We no longer have to offer a sacrifice in the morning and the evening as a sign of our covenant relationship with Him. However, we are called to offer our entire lives as a living sacrifice in service to Him. This is our spiritual worship. This is our high calling. The raising of our hands in worship reminds us of this important truth. It points to the only one who is worthy of our worship, and it represents our true surrender to the Lord by grace through faith.

Anything we do can lose its meaning if we are not careful. The reciting of the liturgy, praying a prayer, and even lifting our hands. We can begin to do things as a method more than a heart felt expression. Our prayers should be sincere and ignited with faith, just like the incense that was kept aflame before the Ark of the Covenant. And the raising of our hand should be with thought and purpose as we present our hearts, our souls, and our bodies to the Lord as a living sacrifice, daily surrendered to His will and His purpose.

Lord – “May my prayer be set before You like incense. May the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.”

In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is pastor of The Fellowship at Weatherford, a Foursquare Church in Weatherford, Texas. He has developed an easy to follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information please send an email to klzehnder@aol.com
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