It was one of those early morning moments, you know the kind when you just wake up abruptly in the wee hours of the morning and discover that you are "singing" praises to God. Without waking my husband, I "sang" and simply worshiped God for a bit. Then I slipped out of bed and headed off to CB.
Hm... a very old blog written by Joyce Bethy Ferguson (@Bethy) three years ago called Learning To Raise My Hands popped up. I smiled as I read it thinking about all the times since then that Bethy and I have been in chat together praying and singing our praises to God. As I read the comments, I thought about how worship "styles" may differ but what is important is that we are worshiping God.
I was raised Pentecostal which means I was raised in an environment where it was common for people to lift up their hands and their voices as they worshiped God. I also learned that just because someone was making a lot of noise about it and waving their arms about did not mean they were actually worshiping God but that is another blog.
I started thinking about what raising our hands signifies. What does it really mean?
Lifting up our hands is more than simply praise. When we physically raise our hands, we are vulnerable. In the natural, we are exposing all of our vital organs so to speak and removing our "weapons" (hands) away from our body. We are in a position where we are at the mercy of another. In the natural, hands raised with the palms out is the universal sign of surrender. When we lift our hands in worship it signifies that we are surrendering ourselves to God. We are in essence saying, "I am at your mercy, I surrender."
Do you see what happens if you are just doing this because everyone else around you is or you want everyone to see how "holy" you are? You are acting a lie. This is a serious matter! Does that mean you shouldn't ever raise your hands in worship? Absolutely not! However, when we do so, we need to understand what we are doing, what we are saying with our body and then we need to do it with our whole heart.
When we lift up our hands, we are laying down our pride and demonstrating our helplessness. We are recognizing that without God we are nothing. We are helpless to save ourselves. In ourselves, we are helpless against sin. We need a Savior!
When we lift up our hands we are crying out, Abba Father. Have you ever seen a child with their hands outstretched toward their father? What happens? I remember lifting up my hands to my father and when I did so, he would catch me up in his arms, hold me tightly and carry me. I remember how loved, safe and secure I felt, captured in the embrace of my father.
At the moment, I am remembering an incident which happened a couple of years ago. I was in a store when I suddenly heard a little girl cry out, "Abba, Abba!" I turned and saw a little Muslim girl joyfully crying out these words as she ran to her father with her arms outstretched. The father instantly knelt down with his arms opened wide to receive her. As the father caught up his little girl in his arms, tears filled my eyes as I thought of these words in Romans 8:15
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
This is what it means when we lift up our hands.