Lifting Hands – Joyless, Bored, or Afraid?

man lifts hands in worship

Lifting Hands During Worship Is For Everyone

As a baby boomer who did not grow up in church, I rarely understand all the denominational nonsense that exists in the church. I have specific feelings towards Catholicism and Mormonism…but that’s another conversation. I’ve been to Baptist Churches, Assembly of God, Church of Christ, and Methodist. Some as a regular church member, others as a one-time guest. Across all of these “brands” of churches, lifting hands in worship seems to be universally accepted, however with mixed and often limited participation.

I’ve seen worshipers of all ages raise their hands, and to me it’s one of the most natural and wonderful expressions of worship there is. However, I realize that it can be uncomfortable for some at first. Of the 600 people in the worship service I attend, let’s say that at any given point in the worship time, 10% are lifting their hands in worship. That seems like a fair number. Sad…but fair. Yes, I am one of those 10%, when the feeling and the Spirit compel me to do so.

Is Lifting Hands A Measure of Your Faith, or Love for God?

Assuming we are comfortable with that 10% number, let’s take these same 600 people to a hockey game, a football game, or a concert where their favorite band is playing. Now how many do you suppose will throw their hands in the air when a goal or touchdown is scored, or when YYZ begins? (RIP Neal Peart) I assure you it will be significantly more than 10%.

One might assume these folks simply don’t love God as much as the Dallas Cowboys or those three boys from Canada, eh? No…it’s more complicated than that.

Going Through the Motions

For some, going to church on Sunday is just going through the motions. Sing a few songs, hear a nice message, grab lunch, and go home and watch football. Going back to our concert analogy, it’s like watching an orchestra. It’s fine…it’s entertaining, but it doesn’t move their soul.

Until you love going to church, and in particular love worshipping the Lord, you’ll never be a hand raiser. It’s not just a matter of the song moving you. The message must move you as well, and more importantly…you must connect with the Spirit of God to move you even more.

Lifting hands should be something you want to do, almost as if God himself is grabbing your hands and pulling them up towards Him. You should feel incomplete without the fullness of this physical expression to connect with your Creator.

So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.

Psalm 63:4

Don’t Force It, but Don’t Resist It Either

Raising your hands in worship should not be forced. There are a lot of distractions in a worship service. Folks arriving late, people chattering, babies crying…whatever. It may take a song or two to really dig in (Praise and worship never seems long enough to me). But at some point, you should feel God’s love towards you, and be attempting to express that love back to Him. Not only in singing the song, but praise, and if necessary…lifting hands in worship.

I think of raising hands in worship as a weekly baptism. Where water baptism is the one-time, physical, outward manifestation of faith you have confessed publicly with your mouth…lifting hands in praise is a weekly symbol of the same.


If the people around you or the mood of the church is keeping you from lifting your hands, find a new one. Better yet, damn the torpedoes and raise them up right there and start a new trend. Perhaps there are dozens of closet hand raisers lurking in your pews waiting for someone with faith and joy in their heart to go first.

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