Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Is It Okay To Raise Hands During Worship?

The various Christian denominations worship quite differently. Some choose to worship very solemnly, others choose to worship very dramatically, and the remaining worship somewhere in between. Without getting into denominational tradition, let's look at how God's Holy Bible addresses worship.

We are cautioned about ritualistic worship that is almost done out of habit, rather than heart-felt.

Worship Must Be From the Heart
"The Lord says: 'These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.'"
Isaiah 29:13-14

We see that God sends the Prophet Jeremiah to the temple gates to confront the false belief that God will not let harm come to the temple and those who live near it. Jeremiah rebukes the people for their false and worthless religion, their idolatry, and the shameless behavior of the people and their leaders. The people followed a worship ritual but maintained a sinful lifestyle. It was religion without personal commitment to God. Attending church, taking communion, teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir, etc., are all empty exercises unless we are truly doing them for God (not because we ought to do them for the church).
Reference Reading: Jeremiah 7:1 - 10:25

So then, how are we to worship?

Worship the LORD With Gladness
"Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs, know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name."
Psalm 100:2-4

Lift Up Your Hands
"Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands."
Psalm 63:3-4

"Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD."
Psalm 134:2

"I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer . . . ."
1 Timothy 2:8

So clearly, raising hands during worship service is not only okay but expected because we should be filled with the Holy Spirit. I like to think of this as similar to getting news that you just won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes or a Lottery. You just won $50 million. Are you going to just mumble something mundane, such as "Ah, cool" and go on about your business? Or are you going to be jumping up and down with excitement? God has given us a free gift of mercy. This gift of eternal life is far greater than any possession or amount of money you can ever receive on this earth. When you recognize this awesome gift, you will be beside yourself and unable to contain the joy and happiness. However, each person's level of expression is different as God made us unique. So while I might be more or less dramatic in worship than you, I should not judge you nor should you judge me.

Don't Judge How Others Worship
"Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day."
Colossians 2:16

If you do not feel anything when you attend church, please search your heart. Are you really a Christian?

If you've not accepted God's free gift of salvation, please do so now. God's free gift is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son. He was the perfect blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. Repent of your sins and accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. When you do that, you will become a child of God. I pray for your salvation. Praise God!


Paige B. said...

What an awesome post! I have realized that people worship in different ways, but I never really looked in the Bible to see what "ways" God wanted us to worship. Thanks for taking the time to post this topic along with the supporting verses.
Paige B.

PolarShark said...

Good post. You made a good point in our conversation yesterday about when your young son lifts his hands to you, his father. In those situations he wants to be near you or to be comforted by you. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father can be the same. Kids are great because they genuinely live in the moment. We can learn from them in that respect.

Nangula said...

I had to come on the net to see why people worshing with hands up. I'm so happy you gave an example that some comes to church and worship traditionally and not from the heart. I'm so glad to read your post. you can only imagine how mch I gained from it. God Bless

just renn said...

I know that this is an old post but I'd really like to drop a comment or rather a "question."

Knowing that some traditional churches do not worship with their hands raised, I've also come across churches that require all worshippers to have their hand raised during worship. Do you think that having a requirement like this is also a ritual? I mean, people can raise their hands at worship because they were told to do that but the action is merely a ritual.

I'm not to be against this post or something because I do agree with you that every person has different levels of expression and we should not judge how people worship.

Nice one anyway :)

Tony B said...

Hi just renn - rituals can take many forms, whether we even know what we are doing is ritualistic or not. However, if a "church" mandates the raising of hands, then that is no different than a "church" that disallows the raising of hands. Both would be a concern for me. How we worship from the heart should not be judged by anyone. Clearly, in both the extremes above, someone has made a judgment as to what s/he thinks is proper and has penned a "rule." I'd be interested to see what the "punishment" would be if a person chose not to raise his/her hands during a service, or what would be said about someone who was handicapped. I wonder if the rule would be more important than the message of the Gospel.

just renn said...

Thank you for your prompt reply. :)

I don't think there will be any "punishment" for not raising our hands. Just that the person might get lectures on how we should worship (I just got one).

I do raise my hands in worship but I also think that sometimes it is okay to not raise our hands and it is also okay to quiet down and just enjoy the presence of God.

Yes, it is biblical to raise our hands in worship but I also believe that God looks at the heart rather than our physical actions. I was "lectured" because I'm also a church leader and I am supposed to show a good example of worship which I think it is too pretentious to do so.

And your point about handicapped worshipper is definitely a good one but I'm sure the leader would have said, "well, but you're not handicapped." haha :)

Tony B said...

Hi just renn - but you are handicapped... you are being handicapped by the one giving you a lecture. I understand your situation of being a leader, but may I suggest that as a leader you might want to find another church that allows freedom in worship as the Bible describes. We should always be governed by the Holy Spirit.

Check out this post: What Should I Look For in a Church?

Tony B said...