Written by James Paek, worship leader at Willow Creek.
I remember lifting up my hands for the first time in worship.
It wasn’t easy. I was worried what others might think of me. I didn’t know how to do it “right.” And, to be honest, I didn’t know if I was holy enough to partake in such a practice.
But, I knew I wanted to take a step forward in my expression of worship towards God for all He has done for me. So I did it. And it was liberating.
It was not so much the act of raising my hands, but the understanding behind the practice that has me raising my hands in almost every corporate worship experience from then until now. Here are some of the freeing thoughts behind this physical act of worship.
- Lifting hands as an act of worship is biblical. From Moses raising his staff in battle (Exodus 17) to the mentioning of this act in the Psalms (28, 63, 119 & more) to Paul’s direction (1 Timothy 2:8), lifting hands has been a practice of admission of the need of God and a worship of His greatness from days of old. Lifting my hands today helps me to connect to my spiritual heritage, just as the act of communion does.
- Physical acts have spiritual ramifications. We are made up of body, spirit and mind. They are all interconnected. Physical acts inform our spirit, spiritual acts inform our mind, etc. As such, the physical act of lifting up my hands helps me to focus my mental and spiritual person on Jesus as I sing in corporate worship.
- I want to give to God what costs me something. There is a beautiful story about King David deciding to pay for a plot of land that he wanted to utilize to build an altar for the Lord. The man who owned the land, Araunah, was willing to give it to the King for free, but David, in his commitment and heart for God states, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24) Lifting my hands no matter what someone might think of me costs me my ego. Lifting my hands even when I don’t feel like it costs me my comfort. Lifting my hands when I don’t feel like I’m worthy costs me my thoughts in return for God’s truth. It’s a small and simple act, but one that helps me to consider this heart of sacrifice towards God and informs my whole life.
True worship does not require the lifting of hands, but our love to God, mind, strength and soul. For me, lifting my hands helps me to get to this heart of worship.
That’s why I lift my hands in worship, and if you think partaking in this practice would help you in your worship, I invite you to join me.