Raising Hands in Worship

A couple of weeks ago I preached on the final Song of Ascent: Psalm 134. I can get you the sermon mp3 if you want, but, suffice it to say, we need to be raising our hands in worship. Since it affects corporate worship I thought I should send this to everyone and not just rely on everyone having heard the sermon.

At the risk of being overly brief, here are three points to support raising our hands in worship:
1. In Scripture, you raise your hands to either bless or to pray. In worship we are both blessing and praying to God.
2. The act of raising hands is mentioned over 20 times in Scripture: priests, prophets, psalmists, Jesus, and apostles all raise their hands. And 2Timothy 2:8 is a straight up command to do it. (On a side note, laying hands on someone during ordination is only mentioned a few times yet we demand it of the church. It is interesting that we follow one act with our hands and neglect another.)
3. Scripture is quite clear that posture matters. Lying prostrate, lifting our hands, bowing, even making a pilgrimage — God knows that our bodies and our minds are connected. The more we involve our bodies the more focussed we will find our experience with God.

In the weeks leading up to Psalm 134, I started raising my hands in my private prayer (hidden away in my study). It transformed my prayers. Not because God only hears people with their hands up, but because God designed us to pray with our bodies and it was a better prayer I prayed with my arms outstretched to him. Since that sermon, Adeline has insisted that we raise our hands any time we pray at the Dunn house. The effect has been the same. God mentioned it for a reason and I am just now learning that.

It is hard to change and I still feel REALLY weird raising my hands at church. I, like some of you, did not grow up in a church that did this. But I have realized that my thinking has been wrong over the years. We have let the charismatic church “have” hand raising because we have considered it to be just an emotional response. I think we have relegated it to whether or not you are feeling “into” the music or not. How subjective! The whole idea of hand raising is to NOT be subjective, it offers us an objective posture that focusses our mind and heart on God.

If the biblical warrant is not enough, I think hand raising could challenge the overly dignified culture that can be the default of any PCA church. Presbyterians have traditionally been the Michals of the Christian faith, shaking our heads at the Davids who dance with abandon before their Lord. We at Christ the King, desire worship that is appropriate and in good order, but we also want people to feel free to raise their hands in worship. Some of you that grew up raising you hands may need to help those of us that didn’t.

As much as I would love everyone to do this, I don’t want to push you before you are ready. But I want to put the seed in your brain that maybe you’ve missed out on something. (I challenge you, when you are alone, pray with your arms lifted high to God.) I also want to alert you that you may notice more people beginning to raise their hands in worship at CTK. I want you to know that they are doing so with the Session’s nod of “approval” and that their worship is directly conforming to Scripture.

I love pastoring a church that is constantly striving to know God through Scripture and is willing to entertain notions such as this. We are a good church, and I am grateful for it.