Lift Up Your Hands in the Sanctuary

Ministry & Worship Tip of the Month | Thursday, October 8th, 2020
  • Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and bless the Lord (Psalm 134:2)
  • Growing up in the Nazarene church, my observation was that if the Holy Spirit was ‘touching’ you during worship you would politely lift one hand. Lifting two hands was looked on with suspicion as you might be an ‘emotional Pentecostal’. Later, as an adult, I joined a Pentecostal/Charismatic congregation and learned that the lifting of hands was a natural and Biblical expression for worship. One of the words for ‘praise’ in the Hebrew language literally means to lift your hands – Towdah: Psa 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise (towdah). Be thankful to Him and bless His name. I realized lifting my hands had little to do with what was culturally acceptable as much as it was Biblically natural and encouraged!
  • I became accustomed to being commanded to lift my hands by a lot of worship leaders which was scriptural. But sometimes we would be chided by well-meaning leaders for half-hearted or ‘half-mast’ lifting! ? Now, forty years later, I see a lot of variations of the lifting of hands: one hand; two hands; hands outstretched to receive; waving hands; dancing hands; palms up at waist level hands; windmill hands; stretched-out sideways hitting-your-neighbor-in-the-face hands!
  • Once, while ministering in Brazil, I taught on the sacrifice of praise. At the end of each service I challenged the Brazilians to what I called the ‘triple sacrifice’: lifting your hands, clapping and dancing all at the same time for 5 minutes without stopping! ? Ah, the good ol’ days! Of course to Brazilians this was way too easy, and they wouldn’t stop after 5 minutes, thus not much of a sacrifice. When I was in Rio de Janeiro, there was one worshiper on the front row who only had one arm. He was smiling and dancing and lifting his one hand, but he couldn’t clap! I had recently sprained my left ankle so I was literally dancing on one leg – so I hopped over to him and we did a bunch of delightful ‘high-fives’ so he could clap while we danced together! What a glorious time of praising God in unity!
  • Of course, some cultures around the world discourage certain expressions and I respect that when I minister there. I do believe it is sad and their loss to not allow some aspects of praise that are certainly very biblical – but I understand some of the reasoning behind this. Sometimes it comes from cultural practices or tradition or maybe abusive practices in the past. Unfortunately, it is rarely a reason founded on biblical understanding.
  • Now, instead of critiquing or commanding, I enjoy physically expressing my praise and worship to Jesus and I invite others to join me in their own expression. It is delightful to see congregations experiencing freedom of biblical expression around the world.

In Him, Dr. Tim

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