Should I raise my hands in church?

Up until last week, I’d never addressed this issue from the front of church. I’d had a few conversations with individuals over the years. But it’s not been a massive issue. I guess that those who came to CCB who felt that we weren’t exuberant enough in singing didn’t return and found a home in another church. There are more charismatic alternatives not a million miles away from us.

It pains me when people make decisions about churches based on music. But they do. That’s one of the reasons why I want our music to be top drawer; to get people to stay long enough to give people some Bible in their Christian life. But the other, more important reason isn’t pragmatic; it’s theological. We ought to praise God with enthusiasm. Just look at Psalm 150. It’s disobedient not to praise him wholeheartedly. But the issue I’m addressing here isn’t really about music. It’s about our physical response to the music, and I trust, the words that we’re singing and the God they speak of.

The reason I addressed this in church recently is that wonderfully God has brought us a number of newcomers this Autumn, some of whom would be used to a less restrained form of praise than is commonly the state of things at CCB. I want newcomers to know that they’re not being frowned upon. I don’t wnat them to think that I’d prefer it if they were more restrained. And I don’t wnat them to think that they’re being naughty when they’re not!  I have no desire to encourage people in one direction or the other. I’ve not got a strong view. I don’t raise my hands. There are no good theological reasons for that. It’s got more to do with my temperament and my background. I don’t tend to do that in any contexts, not simply in church. I’m aware that some of us do and I’m aware that many of us don’t. We may have settled convictions on this. But I trust that we’ll exhibit godly tolerance towards those that make a different wisdom call on this one.

So let’s try and answer the question, ‘should I raise my hands in church?’

There’s a short answer and a longer one. The shorter one is ‘yes, maybe’. The longer answer is ‘yes, maybe; it all depends’.  It all depends on the answer to the following five questions

1. Is it normal?

In other words, is it ever appropriate to be expressive and demonstrative in the context of a congregational setting? Yes. The Bible and especially the Psalms are full of occasions when worshippers use their body in different ways to express their remorse, praise, thanks, and dependence and so on. There’s clapping, singing, bowing, kneeling, lifting hands, shouting, playing instruments, dancing and standing in awe (Psalms 47:1, 47:6, 95:6, 134:2, 150:3-4). And so there seems to be scope for a wide range of physical responsiveness to God. Of course as with all descriptions, we need to ask whether they’re recorded in order to be prescriptive. I’m not at all convinced that they are. In other words, we’re not required to do these things in order to be genuine worshippers. But we are permitted to do these things if we so desire.

2. Is it cultural?

Undoubtedly. It depends on what type of church that you belong to. You’d expect there to be a difference in a church made up mainly of Afro-Caribbeans and one made up of strait-laced Englishmen and women! Each church will have a flavour. Churches are often caricatured as being at one end of the spectrum or the other. We’re told that they’re either ‘happy clappy’ or ‘the frozen chosen’. I don’t like that distinction because it seems to imply that those of us with a Reformed understanding of the Bible’s teaching and therefore a big view of God are emotionally stunted. There’s no reason why believing in God’s sovereignty should prevent you from being enthusiastic in praise. In fact, it ought to be quite the opposite. Calvinists worship a very big God. And so it ought to be the Calvinists and not the non-Calvinistic Charismatics who are the most unrestrained! I’m a Calvinist. But I’m also in possession of a limited emotional range. But it’s not down to my theology. It’s done to my cultural background; public schools and the military. I’m a ‘jigger’ and a shoulder mover, I occasionally close my eyes but that’s about it! I express my exuberance in singing volume.

3. Is it helpful?

It can be. Context is everything. It’s worth spotting whether demonstrative praise is rare or commonplace in the church or event we’re attending. If it’s rare and there’s a good reason for that then we probably ought not to be the person that seeks to buck the trend and change the culture. It’s probably worth asking around and testing the waters about whether demonstrative bodily expression would be distracting or unhelpful for others. Rosslyn used to go to a church in Southampton where the teaching was brilliant but a middle-aged lady in an electric blue cat suit would dance up and down the aisle. That wasn’t distracting. It was terrifying. For the good of the gospel and her soul, I really hope that the Lord has taken her to glory. Can I suggest that we need to be considerate to others and think about the likely impact on those around us. I see no reason why someone couldn’t raise their hands at our evening church. There will always be people here who haven’t come across that before but I’m not sure it’s going to put people off the gospel. Sure they may think it’s weird, as I used to when I first came across Christians. But it wasn’t just their hands in the air that I thought was weird. It was their worship of Jesus. But it may be that in an event geared to helping non-Christians engage with the gospel that we restrain our freedom to make them feel more at home.

4. Is it real?

It should be. And so we need to make sure that what we do with our body really expresses what’s going on in our heart. Jesus quoted these chilling words to the hypocrites of his own generation, ‘these people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me’ (Matthew 15:8&9 quoting Isaiah) We need to be aware that it’s possible for there to be a ‘disconnect’ between what we do and what we think and feel. If our hearts are full to bursting with exuberant praise then having both hands in the air would be an entirely consistent expression. But raising our hands simply because everyone else is and we feel under pressure, or that we’d like to portray the image of advanced spiritual development wouldn’t be. I suspect that one way to test the authenticity of our actions is to ask whether we raise our hands, or express ourselves bodily, in choruses or whether that happens in hymns as well.

5. Is it beneficial?

It could be. I think that in general bodily expressions are valuable in cementing our convictions. They’re a way that we can preach to ourselves and commit ourselves to a course of action. But I wouldn’t want to limit that to the position of our hands during a song. Singing is a bodily expression of worship, passionate singing more so. I’d much prefer us to be an impassioned gathering of wholehearted singers. The way to that, of course, is not through my, or anyone else, berating you from the front.  As we grasp the majesty of god, the mercy of the Lord Jesus and the wonder of our salvation we’ll be more inclined to respond with enthusiastic expressions of praise.

Conclusion

Whether we raise our hands or not is not the litmus test of theological orthodoxy or charismatic credentials. It doesn’t make you a Christian or even a keen one. It just makes you one who puts their hands in the air. If you want to and you think it’s appropriate go for your life. And if you don’t, that’s fine.  Just remember the words of 1 Samuel 16:7, ‘The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks upon the heart’.

40 thoughts on “Should I raise my hands in church?

  1. Matt MacL November 23, 2010 / 11:21 am

    Great article – first time I’ve seen a rational approach to this sensitive subject!

    • theurbanpastor November 23, 2010 / 11:25 am

      Thanks Matt, that’s put a spring in my step – glad to be of use!

  2. Nils November 23, 2010 / 11:55 am

    Thanks for the great article. We’ve got a couple of die-hards who occasionally still brave the odd hand raise. Unfortunately because the overwhelming vibe is conservative, most of those more outgoing types who join us end up with their hands in their pockets within a few weeks. A real pity. I’m trying to think through how to make it a more natural part of the landscape. Problem is – I’m one of the shy, non-demonstrative types. Do I bust out my shell as I lead from the front for the sake of encouraging others to do the same? I’d probably look stupid! Or do I stick to who I am? … My feeling is that at some stage, someone up front needs to model that it’s ok to be expressive.

    • theurbanpastor November 23, 2010 / 12:03 pm

      Nils, I think you’re right. I’m not the one to model it because it’s not me. I’d freak everyone out. It’d be like your Dad dancing at the school disco. I’d simply be doing it for show, though with laudable motives. But we want to create a culture where it’s permissible and so I addressed it from the front in church. Of course, afterwards everyone was especially self conscious and people had one eye on teh projector but another on the congregation to see if theere were any new hands that went up! That’ll die down. When I’m up front I want to model singing wholeheartedly, especially when the lyrics give me cause to do so.

  3. Lauri November 23, 2010 / 7:38 pm

    Hi Perks, this is an interesting insight into what a Pastor has to think about in this day to day. Good work.

    I was hoping that given the subject matter of this blog post and because in sermons on 1 Timothy 2 our tradition tends to emphasise verse 9 onwards and gloss over v 8 (at least the front part of v 8), and give that we are quite prescriptive in relation to what v 9 means for women, should men not be lifting up our hands in prayer?

    I am quite curious about that verse, but obviously its not a biggie…

    • theurbanpastor November 23, 2010 / 8:33 pm

      Thanks Lauri
      I’m due to preach through 1 Timothy at some stage next term, I think. And so I’ll be able to offer more insight then. But, from memory, I remember coming to the conclusion there that Paul was saying that hands ought not to be used in fighting with one another but instead in praying. Holy hands are lifted up to pray, not punch! I think the gReek word implies extending upwards. Of course, this would be a description of a cultural expression of prayer. It’s not rooted in a creation pattern like the prohibition of women preaching. But that’s a subject for whole different blog post!

  4. Tom Stanbury November 25, 2010 / 10:55 am

    I personally appreciate going to a Church of England church building with kneelers. It has usually been on holiday in Devon.
    Sometimes I have knelt when it is proposed in prayer during a traditional 8:30 communion service and found my heart change. It is though I’ve suddenly remembered that I am a servant before his master. I don’t shake hands with God as my equal or do I?

    We often ask people to bow their heads in prayer, why?
    Is it so they don’t get distracted or more significant than that?
    Why do we stand to sing?
    Why stand with arms folded, or hands in pockets?
    I am not necessarily after answers but more joining in the dialogue. Surely what we do or don’t do with our bodies goes say something?

    An observation over the years of those who are vigorous proponents of arms raised, why arms and not other more significant body positions?

    I would want to ask someone, what are you saying to God when you raise your arms when singing? What does it mean? Or is it because it feels good? which I guess is fine.

    As you point out in your closing sentence it is God who sees our hearts. Can our bodies affect our hearts?

    Oh and if the day should come that a fund is required for the church kneelers, I’ll be leading the charge.

    • theurbanpastor November 26, 2010 / 11:32 am

      Thanks Tom
      Thought provoking stuff, as usual.

      I’m no great practitioner of arms usage in singining but I have observed that the way people use their arms expresses different things. This is in no sense meant to be mocking. But, for example, I wonder whether the following things mean the following things

      1 arm raised above the head is declaratory, it’s as though we’re saying what we’re singing is definitely true
      2 arms raised above the head is, perhaps, total surrender to the majestic Lord of whom we’re singing
      2 hands with palms opened up towards heaven expresses dependence and thoughtful meditation on what we’re singing

      As for eth body affecting our hearts I’d perhaps rephrase that and say that given we are complex creatures are we prepared to say that one aspect of us can be totally isolated in its effect from every other aspect. I’m not persuaded. James says that an organ; the tongue, can direct the whole course of our life.

    • Dave November 26, 2010 / 9:38 pm

      We stand to sing in church because it is better for the vocal chords and the chest than sitting down.

  5. Conrad November 26, 2010 / 11:15 am

    Catholic, especially Anglo catholic, worship is full of physical gestures. Sign of the cross, genuflection, head bowing at the name of Jesus, deep bow during the creed to acknowledge the Incarnation. Movement and posture have meaning for people in many traditions.

    • theurbanpastor November 26, 2010 / 11:23 am

      Thanks for that Conrad. I hadn’t thought of that. Being on the side of the Reformation that I am (the doctrinally Reformed side) I clearly have issues with some Anglo-Catholocism. But that’s not the issue here. I hadn’t really thought about the use of teh body in Creeds and so on,. Thanks, that’s set in motion a new train of thought!
      For myself, growing up in a Liberal Catholic Anglican Church the bodily gestures always drove me mad. Standing for the gospel reading I saw not as a mark of respect for the gospel but a denial of the authority of all the scriptures. If we were going to stand for the Gospel reading then why not the Old Testament?! Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? I felt as though lots of what we were ‘required’ to do, what was expected of us in oder to be ‘kosher’ was simply superstitious nonsence.
      I guess the issue for ACs, as for all of us, is authenticity. Are we doing whatever we’re doing because it expresses what’s going on in my heart or is it habitual. In other words is it ritual or real?

  6. Charles November 26, 2010 / 1:53 pm

    Let me preface my comments by saying that I am 56, Anglican and not very charismatic.

    I wonder what God thinks as He sees us agonise over what we should do with our arms when worshipping Him? At a football match people wear clothing proclaiming their team, some wear silly hats, or even paint their faces. They sing, chant, wave their arms in the air, lift up banners and blow horns. All in praise of their team and yet we worry about whether to take our hands out of our pockets to praise the Almighty God!

    David when accompanying the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, much to the embarrasment of his wife, danced not wearing a great deal. His focus was on praising God not what others thought. Shouldn’t we have the same attitude? Let’s not discourage those who want to be exuberant in their worship and perhaps even be a little less English and give it a go ourselves. You may find, as I did, that your body can change your heart. After all the experts tell us that only about 7% of communication is in the words, and 55% is body language.

    Surely the bottom line is that we should at the very least be as demonstrative in our worship of God as we are in other aspects of our life. If that means singing your heart out, getting on your knees, waving your arms about, doing a Cliff Richard impression, or dancing up and down the isle in the blue catsuit, go for it! And if the blue catsuit is a distraction just close your eyes.

  7. Jason Chollar November 26, 2010 / 6:00 pm

    I just love this discussion! Thanks for starting it!

    On the one hand, I completely believe in the whole idea of being expressive relative to your own personal and cultural temperament.

    Culture:
    Italians and Greeks tend wave their arms when they talk, … tends to be kind of a “towards the equator” thing. The further north you go, the more reserved (Sweeds, Anglos, …)

    Personal:
    Like Charles said above, … a good question to ask is “What would I do if I was in the stadium and my team won the superbowl.” Surely the victory Jesus won for us is way more important!

    On the other hand…. let me take issue with you to be careful on a few counts:

    1) Our physical postures affect us and our prayers. Here’s a quote from Mr. C.S. Lewis in “Screwtape letters” …

    “At the very LEAST, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls.

    And here’s the main one….

    2) You’ve got the solution to hypocrisy backwards in #4!!!!!

    Yes, “they honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me” ….. It is wrong and reprehensible when people sing and say and do all the “right” things in church and then go throughout their week and sin it up, denying mercy to the poor, dealing unfair in business, ….

    HOWEVER, …. the solution is NOT for them to quit giving God the praise he is due at public gatherings!

    The measure we should use in deciding how passionately to worship God is NOT how we might happen to feel at the moment, or what we are comfortable with, or what the culture around us dictates, or really anything to do with us at all. The question is more of “How worthy is God? What does God want?”

    Think about how David went straight into the temple to worship God right after his son died and he had just spent three days fasting and praying on his face and crying for God to spare his son. Do you think he “felt” like worshipping God?

    Hypocrisy is NOT when we do the right thing when we don’t “feel” like it. Hypocrisy is when we say one thing and do another. It’s a lack of consistency in lining up the hard thing to do (our actions) with the easy thing to do (our words). And the solution is not that to quit speaking the truth. The solution is to start LIVING the truth, with the help of God Almighty!

    3) So… lining up our actions with our words ….I do think it is rather awkward and hard to justify if you are singing songs that talk about lifting your hands and yet you aren’t doing it…

    “I’m doing it in my heart” …. kind of sounds like “we’re married in our hearts …” I don’t know…

    So you could just make sure and never sing those songs (which is hard because you have to avoid the direct references in the Psalms….

    And maybe, just maybe, sometimes God is asking us to reach beyond our own cultural and temperamental norms and values and embrace His ….

    It is not an excuse to say “My culture doesn’t value ____ (feeding the poor, marital fidelity, …)

    And while this is nowhere near the same level of moral importance perhaps as those examples, just take a look at 2 Samuel 6 to get an idea of whether or not God cares if we worship him our way or his way… Good intentions are not a replacement for right action….

    So… perhaps the Lord might be calling you to give “it” (hand lifting) a try?

    I try not to do things in public that I don’t don’t do in my own personal prayer time, … so…

    Maybe you might try putting on some worship music and lifting your arms to the Lord in the privacy of your own private worship space. Or forget the music. Experiment with all forms of bodily expression in your private time with God.

    What’s the harm? It’s uncomfortable and might be distracting for you and others?

    Well, just about any new thing you do is awkward and uncomfortable and distracting at first. Think about the first time you learn a new song. You struggle to learn the melody. You think about the words and analyse them to see if they are true and what they really mean in your life and situation, …. It takes a while of doing it before you can really use it as an effective prayer tool. Same for us an our congregation with putting colored backgrounds behind the words on the screen, introducing a new instrument, … so give it a month or so of this before you just give up because it’s uncomfortable the first time.

    I can tell you my own personal experience is that my cerebral intellectual and emotional and spiritual dimensions of worship of God is now richer and deeper than I knew it could be, because in my own private time with God I have physically prostrated myself and put my whole body and face literally physically on the ground in worship and surrender to His majesty the King. There are some forms of “knowing” that you can only have once you do them and experience them. The same is true for standing and raising my open hands towards my Abba Father. I have experienced peace and joy in new enriching ways by my obedience in this area.

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

    Saying that this isn’t “prescriptive”? …. I’m just not sure I buy it… 🙂

    And could you possibly, by your example, be encouraging others to be disobedient in this area too?

    Sorry to go on and on here…writing helps me to think … hope you don’t mind if I drag you along through it…

    Anyhow, I am fascinated by this whole discussion and would love to see how it continues to play out…

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Suem November 27, 2010 / 12:25 pm

    Interesting! I tend to go to fairly middle of the road Anglican churches where this kind of demonstrative thing is avoided. But in one particularly moving but joyous service, a normally fairly low key parishioner did raise his arms right up in the final hymn and it filled me with delight! I personally favour the surreptitious-palm-raised- while-sitting-in- the-pew gesture when I feel this way- but maybe I should branch out?:)

  9. Simon November 30, 2010 / 9:00 pm

    I must echo Charles’ sentiments.

    I find it puzzling that we we have a whole book in the bible (Psalms) littered with references to using your whole body as praise to God yet seem to be to having to think about whether or not its right or wrong to lift our hands at a worship meeting in a morning or evening service? This seems like a very english affair to me…

    James KA Smith critiques an evangelical anthropology in his book Desiring the Kingdom.

    To give a flavour an article in Christianity today ( http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/may/25.42.html?start=2 )

    “But that’s precisely why I’ve always found it a bit strange that Reformed worship so often treats human beings as if we’re brains-on-a-stick. All week long we talk about how good creation is, how good embodiment is. But then we have habits of worship that merely deposit great ideas in our heads, making us rather cerebral disciples. Despite all our talk about the goodness of creation and embodiment, in Reformed worship the body doesn’t show up that much. “

  10. Jeff Mikres September 16, 2011 / 2:09 pm

    What I find is that when scripture speaks people often try and rationalize what they think it means. When I first got saved I did not have a Bible and was 46 years old. I bought a Bible and was astonished to see that most of the traditions I had been taught were not in the Bible. Some how they were rationalized some how.
    As an example, baby baptism. Being a good boy I can get into heaven. Going in a box, telling a man my sins and he forgives me, when only God has power to forgive sins as was quoted in the NT. Then I am given some prayers to say for the forgiveness of my sins when Jesus already forgave them on the cross.
    The moral of the story is that if the scripture says to do it, do it. If U do not UR rebelling against Gods word. U can rationalize it all U want but it does not change it. If a gunman sticks a gun in your back and says stick em up, what do U do? Do U rationalize it or do it?

  11. Stephen Holland December 30, 2011 / 9:36 pm

    Just on holiday in Wales and so spending some time floating around the web and have come across your little blog somehow.

    ‘Should we raise our hands in church?’ You obviously chose the ‘long answer’ to that question. Only read through very quickly, as like most people I can’t be bothered to read long blogs by folks. I would rather reserve my energies for reading some good theological or biographical book.

    Anyhow, my pennies worth! No Biblical precedence whatsoever. Why quote OT passages that have nothing to do with raising hands in the context we are speaking? Surely such passages are reflective of OT sacrificial offerings, and not whether I should raise my hands or not. As such are now fulfilled in Christ and so passed away we have no precedence for appeal.

    Yet I feel there appears to be one vital and important danger overlooked here. And that of the reason other religions and cults raise their hands in ‘worship.’ Their is a real danger of New Age mystical influences here. In widely charismatic circles the practice of such ‘worship’ is no different from that of New Age agnostic practice. I don’t feel it is as innocent as a matter of culture, taste, or personal preference here. Some more serious refection is needed. At least from my point.

  12. KH February 26, 2012 / 2:12 am

    This discussion is all well and good but we have to consider a Biblical perspective beyond the “they did it in the OT, i.e. sang and danced.

    Jesus told us to avoid vain repetitions in our prayer. He told us that affectation of any kind has its own, earthly (and thus limited) reward. St. Paul instructs us to worship in an orderly manner.

    When people “have church” regardless of the worship tradition, they are substituting a human experience for true worship.

  13. davidwburns April 3, 2012 / 6:38 pm

    I’m a music minister in a fairly traditional United Methodist church. I was brought up Presbyterian, but I’ve come to appreciate charismatic/contemporary worship as an adult. My pastor and I were discussing worship styles and ways of improving the worship experience on Sunday morning and I happened to mention that I sometimes feel raising my arms, but that I don’t feel comfortable doing it because it’s not the norm at this church or in most Methodist churches. He encouraged me to feel free because he knew that there were a few closet hand raisers out there that maybe just needed to see a worship leader lifting it up.

    Well, on Sunday morning, he quoted our conversation and encouraged the congregation to consider being more expressive. So now I felt pressure to raise my hands at some point during the service. Arrg. I was on the spot. But when the spirit began to move, I lifted it up. I was leading a chorus that we use for a prayer response. It’s my natural impulse, but I have to admit that it felt a little staged. I worry that it makes people uncomfortable or that it is distracting. Perhaps it’s selfish of me, because I do it because of how it transforms my personal worship experience even though it may take away from someone else’s. I’m going with it, though, because I’m willing to be a tool for the pastor in transforming our worship into something more experiential and expressive.

    I don’t know exactly why it’s so hard for Reformed Liturgical folks to be more expressive emotionally and physically. Either it’s a trait that the churches foster or it’s a personality that the churches attract (or a cycle of both probably) I think some have an elitist view of charismatic worship as being less sophisticated and in some way manipulative. Like, if you get folks to open up emotionally, then they’re ripe for religious brainwashing or something. In my experience, however, it can be a fuller experience. We’re called on to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Perhaps that applies to the way we worship as well.

  14. Mark Ketchum April 25, 2012 / 2:41 am

    I am a non-denominational who likes modern contemporary worship music. I raise my hands at times when I feel the Spirit and am in awe of God. I live in Rockwall, Texas. Don’t you think the article goes a little too far when it says we should try and do what the culture of the Church we are in does? It questioned whether or not it would be a distraction. Isn’t worship something you are giving God and you should respond in the way you feel led to respond… not relying on what those around you are doing? Just curious.

    • Mark Ketchum April 25, 2012 / 2:42 am

      I also ascribe to 4 points of Calvinism but do not call myself a Calvinist… another title to separate Christians.

    • theurbanpastor April 25, 2012 / 2:16 pm

      Thanks Mark, honestly I can’t remember what I said – it’s that long ago. But I suspect that if I said this then I’d have been mindful of the horizontal aspect (towards others) of church rather than merely the vertical one (towards God). In other words, we worship God when we treat other worshippers with respect and consideration. And not simply when we sing wholeheartedly to the Lord.

      • Mark Ketchum April 25, 2012 / 2:56 pm

        Thanks for your comment brother… however, I respectfully disagree on respectful worship. I do not see disrespect in raising my hands in worship simply because none other do. I believe the disrespect falls on those who would view and say something about my raising of hands in worship.

        Along the same lines, I do not find it disrespectful to make another believer uncomfortable because I talk about God in public more than they do. i believe the disrespect falls on those who are annoyed or perturbed by another’s walk with God and how they demonstrate that outwardly, whether in worship or in activities of daily living.

        Who knows… you might have more people in conservative worship who actually are aching to raise their hands, yet they don’t because nobody else does. One hand raised may start a fire… but a good one… maybe.

        Alas, I could be wrong as i often am and may change my mind on this tomorrow. Thanks for listening.

  15. Susan Richards June 18, 2012 / 2:11 pm

    Are we being dishonest if we sing, ‘I fall on my knees and worship …’ yet remain standing? or sing ‘I lift my hands …’ and leave them down. Often wondered about this. If I don’t ‘do the actions’ should I be singing the words – or is it all in my heart?

    • Mark Ketchum June 18, 2012 / 2:22 pm

      I will admit when I sing, “I fall on my knees and worship” I do not fall on my knees as there isn’t room from the seats in front of me and because I would be embarrassed being the only one (I know… it is me and the Lord, not those watching)… but I do raise my hands in worship… especially when the lyrics call for it.

  16. Stuart July 2, 2012 / 8:38 pm

    Yet I feel there appears to be one vital and important danger overlooked here. And that of the reason other religions and cults raise their hands in ‘worship.’ Their is a real danger of New Age mystical influences here. In widely charismatic circles the practice of such ‘worship’ is no different from that of New Age agnostic practice

    ——————-
    That seems a bit simplistic – African churches drum and ululate – should they not do that because it looks like what happens in animist religions?

  17. Godsgirl July 7, 2012 / 4:45 am

    I started going to a reformed Church about 4 years ago. I joined the praise team after some time and eventually became the praise team leader. When I first started attending church there where few that raised their hands in praise. I am not even sure if I seen it more than a couple times. I have always loved worshipping the Lord. In my innocence of how others worshipped I had always thought you could worship however you felt God to move you to. Sit, Stand, Lay down, Lift your hands, etc… The deeper into to worship I get I do feel the Spirt prompting me to let go and lift my hands, and on a few occasions I even cried while leading worship. Now remember this is in a church that it was not the “norm” to do so. But as I felt led I worshipped. Contrary to what others are saying on this blog about being a distraction or changing the “Norm” in a church … well I disagree.. Others started feeling comfortable to do the same. Many have even come up to me and said that they always wanted to lift their hands but didn’t feel comfortable. The biggest thing was that they saw the purity in my worship and lifting my hands. It was not a show but an expression of love and surrender to my Lord! I do agree with by starting this it did cause a culture change within our worship in the church, but not in a bad way. On any given Sunday I look out and see 1/4-1/2 of the church raising their hands. Not every song or the whole service but whenever they feel the Lord leading them to.They are not a distraction to others and the ones who don’t feel comfortable doing it, simply don’t… Why are we restricting our worship to God? Noone is judging you for not lifting your hands so why judge one for lifting them. God made all of us special, different,and unique. So why can’t we all worship the way God and the Holy Spirit lead us? Church is is a place to grow within our walk with the Lord not a place of judgment by other Christians. The first post said that some new members came in and began worshipping a little more freely. The Lord may have placed them in your church for a reason or purpose beyond your understanding. The Lord just wants us to love HIm, serve Him, worship Him. So let’s just worship HIm!

  18. DEWSR November 19, 2013 / 10:53 pm

    I appreciate your explanation of the reasoning. I currently do not feel comfortable, but the more I go to church the more liberal I become with my emotions. I am there to praise. Maybe I will be moved maybe not. Your article should be republished so that more people like me who have been recently saved won’t be so overwhelmed or out of place 🙂

  19. Andy December 28, 2013 / 1:55 am

    After taking services for many years in all types of Trinitarian churches in the UK The local methodist church came down on me like a ton of bricks because of hand jesters NO CLAPPING AND NO RAISING OF HANDS because it makes me the centre of attention? and they wonder why people are leaving and going to the C of England who’s in bondage

  20. Scott Ezell January 23, 2014 / 12:39 am

    The raising of the hands (to me) is a two way answer, Overall I think its ok. But for theCHRISTIAN chuch No I think its wrong.My mom once said that it becomes a service in itself The first time I noticed it in a Christian church was in 98 then I had been a Chritian (babtised) for 25-26 years.

  21. Anne February 3, 2014 / 9:37 am

    I think the most important thing in any worship is to be yourself with God.
    If you want to raise hands in praise and thanksgiving – do so. If you want to sit during your worship – do so
    God wants genuine worship, from the heart, and that means be who He made you to be

    • Andy March 31, 2014 / 11:36 pm

      Amen to Anne God wants genuine worship, from the heart sadly we are to busy pointing the finger at others and taking our eyes of the Cross.
      Blessings in His Name Andy

  22. Daniel Ramos April 2, 2014 / 6:18 am

    I am always amazed at articles like these. People wondering if raising hands or even being exuberant are in excess or out of the norm for church goers. Listen, when you are in love with Christ, these silly discussions fall by the way side. Let’s not act like we haven’t been in love before. We love our sports teams. When they score or do something great within the framework of the game, we shout, we stand, we lift our hands, we paint our faces, and at times we go shirtless in cold outdoor venues. When it comes to worldly things, no one ever asks any questions about your exuberance. Yet, inside the walls of our churches, people who claim to love God sit so motionless and uninspired. For anyone in love, you never have to ask to kiss, hug, or show some emotion. Common Church, let’s get going! The world is watching your lackluster expressions of a God who we claim to be holy.

    • Christina February 9, 2015 / 5:50 pm

      I very much agree with you, Daniel. When you have an intimate relationship with the one true living God, you can’t help but to worship Him and his majesty. I am absolutely stunned and saddened by how many people attend church, but don’t know how to love on God and worship him.

  23. Christina February 9, 2015 / 5:47 pm

    God desires us to worship him in spirit and in truth. If our spirit does not engage with His spirit during worship, we are clanging symbols… just noise. We worship with our minds and mouths, but our hearts are far from him.

    Through Jesus’ death on the cross, we have access to God… to come boldly before his throne. He desires to know us, to have a close relationship with us. He desires for us to seek him, to know him intimately. When you are singing a song to the Lord, raising your hands to him is an act of surrender. Your heart is engaging and in response to that engaging, hands are raised, or maybe tears flow. God inhabits the praises of his people. Inhabit means he dwells among… he takes residency in… our praises. Worshipping God for his greatness and his gift to us, invokes a bodily response to those who are free enough to express themselves. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the 120 people in the Upper Room and the Holy Spirit is working today to draw us closer to God, to guide us, and to bring wisdom and understanding into our lives. When we worship God with our spirit, it releases the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. He moves us. We feel a stirring in our spirit. What church on the face of this earth would NOT want the Holy Spirit moving in their services, yet so many churches grieve him, but not giving people the opportunity to engage with him.

    I am of a livelier background and I love to worship God’s beauty and holiness. I visited a big, beautiful, wealthy UM Church on Sunday. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. This church hosts three different services on Sunday, each of which are very full. However, the presence of the Lord was not there. The music group vocalists were talented, the instrumentalists were talented as well, but there were few people singing and they stood there like robots. I sat in the back and watched people. People were not engaging with God. I felt very sad in my spirit that these people are attending this magnificent church yet they are not free to worship God. Very, very sad. When you become free in Christ, truly free, worship will be automatic. You won’t be able to hold in your excitement and enthusiasm for God and his love for you.

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