by Konrad La Prade
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. (1 Timothy 2:8)
A little over a year ago, a group of guys was sitting around a campfire in my backyard. One of the conversations that came up was our posture as we worship Jesus in song. On Sunday morning, my arms are almost continually raised as I ponder the glory of Christ. Since that conversation, I’ve thought about my own story and how my posture in worship is connected to it as well as what the Bible has to say about raising holy hands in worship.
At the age of 9, my family converted to Mormonism, and I discovered “church music” for the first time. While the Mormon hymnal has many familiar Christian hymns in it, my particular experience was that we sang the same 5-20 songs over and over again. These songs had to do with the prophet, putting my shoulder to the wheel, and being faithful to the doctrines of the church.
At age 18, the Lord led me to a Bible teaching church. I remember going into that church and hearing about Jesus and then surrendering control of my life to him. As I knelt on the floor that day and begged Jesus to be the lord of my life, the band came up and began to play “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
It was the first time I’d ever heard anything like it. Here was a song about the holy resurrected savior and we were invited to praise his name. It was astounding. I remember raising my hands in surrender and praise to him. Despite all that I had done, and all that I had tried to do, Jesus had found me, had saved me, and was allowing me to sing praises to his perfect name.
The Psalms, the songbook of the Old Testament, not only give us examples of worship songs, but also examples of how we can use our hands while worshipping Jesus.
- “I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.” (Psalm 63:4)
- “Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD!” (Psalm 134:2)
- “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.” (Psalm 141:2)
Fast forward 15 or so years after my salvation and I was standing next to my best friend who had recently accepted Christ and been baptized. As we worshiped in a church in Minnesota, I watched him raise his fists in the air both to pump them vigorously in excitement, and also to hold his open hands out in surrender. Christ had triumphed in Ivan’s life and his posture reflected that triumph and surrender.
On Sunday morning, Jesus approaches his bride triumphantly. He has paid the price of our sin and redeemed us. When I think about this, I can’t keep my hands or heart still. The almighty God loves me! Me! If I don’t raise my arms and bow my heart in surrender, triumph and reflection, then the very rocks will cry out in my stead.