The scriptures contain many places where it says “lift holy hands” or “lift up your hands.” Why does God encourage us to do this?
We all know that body language is an important part of communication. Without it, it’s easy to misunderstand a person’s meaning sometimes. We rely heavily on the signals people send with their bodies while they are speaking. If you do a study in body language you will find the consensus is that lifting our hands, raising them palm side up, has several possible meanings.
One thing that can be communicated by raising upturned palms is surrender. The police will tell a suspect to raise their hands so that they can see them and know they aren’t going to do anything that will catch the officer off guard. But it also puts that person in a position of surrender, of submission. It changes the dynamics of the moment immediately.
Another thing that can be communicated with this gesture is that the person is asking to receive something. If someone is about to hand you something, you instinctively reach out, palms up to receive what they give you. At the same time, the person giving something often reaches out in the same manner. So both giving and receiving involve this hand gesture.
Finally, consider a young child. A baby who is sitting for the first time may throw her hands in the air in great joy over her accomplishment. And when she learns to toddle, she will approach her daddy with arms stretched high, wanting him to pick her up and comfort her.
Now back to the original question. Why does God encourage us to lift our hands? I believe all the reasons just stated are also God’s motivation. Lift your hands to surrender, to give yourself to Him, to receive all He has for you, to express joy and to be comforted. The Lord designed us to include our bodies in our communication. It isn’t a mandate that we must raise our hands in church during worship or prayer or else we are doing it wrong. It’s simply a means God designed for us to draw closer to Him whether it is in a corporate worship setting or in the privacy of our own prayer closet.
God is our Father and we are his children. He loves nothing more than to have his children reach out their hands to Him.
“Lift up your hands in the holy place and praise the LORD!”
– Psalm 134:2