Thursday, March 31, 2011

Raised Hands?

This past weekend, my family, as well as a few other families from my church, attended a Chris Tomlin concert. This is the third time we've seen him in concert and it was amazing! I've been to a few concerts by different artists, but Chris Tomlin concerts always beat them all. Additionally, he had Louie Giglio as a guest speaker which made things even more amazing. He gave a talk very similar to his Indescribable and How Great is Our God talks. It was a tremendous experience! In this post, I wanted to focus on a little piece of what he talked about and that was hands raised in worship. When the thought of raising hands in worship comes to mind, lots of people think that's a custom of the pentecostal. That's not true though. In Psalm 134:1-2, God commands us to raise our hands to praise Him:

Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD.

Hands raised is a sign of surrender, victory, joy and sometimes even desperation. Think of these examples:

1. police arresting a person telling them to put their hands in the air

2. children in a third world country going to school

3. sports games

4. desperation

Each of them have a different meaning, but all the reactions are the same: hands in the air. The first is a sign of surrender, the second a sign of joy and happiness, the third a sign of victory and the third hopelessness. There's one problem that Louie Giglio addressed and that's the fact that many people feel uncomfortable raising their hands during worship. They feel ashamed or embarrassed. He made a very valid argument saying that when in a sports game and your favorite team scores, or when your favorite team wins, what do you do? You raise your hands out of joy and victory! You raise your hands as a visible sign that you're happy and victorious. All of that is done out of admiration and worship towards the thing or team or whatever you're happy about. Well, if you do that in a sports game, how could you not do it towards God? It would be unthinkable to believe that a team of people would receive hands in the air, but you wouldn't do it to the Lord. He said it's sad to think that people wouldn't think twice about putting their hands up during a game, but they'd over analyze doing it in church.

Louie Giglio also showed a photo similar to the one above saying that men normally have a harder time than woman raising their hands in worship (even though the Bible specifically addresses men raising hands in the church). He pointed out that clenched fists is such a guy thing and that he encourages men to do that if they feel uncomfortable doing anything else. It shows surrender, and if it bothers you to be the same as girls, it's different than what girls do. :P Something else that I thought would be important to share is this: many times, when we're going through something difficult, we don't want to raise our hands to the Lord. We don't have joy, we have no victory and we don't want to surrender because we think everything that's happened was God's fault. In reality, that's when we need to raise our hands the highest--out of desperation. By fully surrendering ourselves a visible way, it's an even bigger step to freedom and victory than by just surrendering in our heads.

Is raising hands in church hard for you? Why or why not?

After seeing the analogy Louie gave about raising out hands in sports games and not in church make you want to raise your hands or not?

Any other comments on this topic?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!



  1. Wow! Great subject!

    I honestly struggle with that a bit. I am kind of afraid about what people will think of me. I know it's silly. I am also afraid of raising my hands in vain. Like when we use God's name in vain, or when we ask God to "Change us," but don't really mean so. I would hate to raise my hands without the proper somberness. But then again, worship is not about us being worth-it, but about Christ being worth-it. What is raising our hands for Christ when he nailed His hands for us?

    Yes! It is way harder for men to raise hands than women. I really don't know why, but it is. I guess we over analyze it, and seem to get stiff when everyone ells is doing it except us. Just know that when you see a man with raised hands, know that he went through a lot to do so. God made men to be spiritual leaders, and worship is a huge aspect of the Christian life. Get those hands in the air guys! Not for show, but out of obedience!

    One word of caution. Please never ever judge someone because they are lifting hands or not. NEVER! Don't feel bad if you don't raise hands during worship, and don't feel pressured to do so. Like Sophie said, it's a sign of repentance toward God. Paul commands it, and it benefits us. Someone can worship with hands down, and people and fake worship with hands up. The hands are not the issue, the issue is your heart; our hands only reflect our attitude toward God.

    Great post!

  2. I just became a follower of this blog, and I'm so glad I have! Sophie and Jerry, you both do an awesome job, my brother and sister in Christ!

    About this post: it took me a looong time to feel like raising my hands in church was okay. Then I realized the only reason why I wasn't raising my hands in church was because of my fear of man's opinions. Matt. 10:33 immediately came to my mind with this blog post. "But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven." If I raised my hands simply to receive men's attention and praise, I would be like the Pharisees, looking for praise from men---but since I raise my hands for the praise of God and no one else, I conquer my fear of men and become courageous in that praise.

    I worship God like this in private as well so I don't want to receive man's praise simply for it. Of course, I would never judge someone who didn't raise their hands, because I know there are plenty of Christians with worshipful hearts much greater than me, even with their hands at their sides!

  3. Thanks for posting this! I loved his concert message but Passion City Church says they are not yet planning to release it. I just got assigned to write an article on Lifting Hands in Worship and was trying to remember all the examples he gave to structure the article. In lieu of being able to review his actual message again, this is very helpful!