Why Do We Raise Hands During Worship?

Over these previous Sundays, I find myself being amused once again over the way people raise their hands and lift their voice to worship. Growing up in a Pentecostal church where free worship is encouraged, I am privileged to see different people with different personalities expressing their adoration to the Lord in different ways. This sight is no longer new to me. It brings encouragement to my spirit, knowing that in heaven there’ll be an endless praise from all nations redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb.
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But why do people raise their hands to worship? Is it because the song leader says so? Is it just sheer emotional response caused by the melody of the songs? Is it because in a Pentecostal movement, raising hands have become the norm? Maybe yes, but these actually are shallow reasons and wouldn’t bring us anywhere. I still have faith that it is a gesture of genuine worship and reverence to the Divine Recipient of our adoration that we raise our hands as we sing.

Paul Baloche, in his devotional The Same Love, writes, “our theology or image of God is undeniably formed by the songs that we sing each Sunday”. Singing is not just a part of the program that needs to happen before and after the preaching of the Word. It does not function as a spiritual stimulator to check whether a person is ready for the rebuke or encouragement of the pastor’s message. Singing is not intended to “fire up” a person to worship – it is already worship in itself.

The primary role of every music ministry is not to produce music just to enliven the church program. Our music playlist on phone can do that. Their role is to lead us to worship where the focus is not towards themselves but towards the Lord. That is why the challenge for them is “to be more pastoral in [their] music ministries, caring more about [their] congregations getting a biblical, scriptural foundation for their lives than simply singing poetic thoughts.”

Are we just singing poetic thoughts flavored with hand gestures? I hope we are not. More than our hands and our bodies, we worship with our hearts first. What we do on the outside is just an expression of what is inside. Baloche adds, “He created us to be loved by Him; it’s that simple and that complex. Our response to such overwhelming good news is to worship Him, now and forevermore.”

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