Raising Holy Hands to God

1 Timothy 2:8

NLT

 In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.

The first time I noticed this passage was a while back while reading it from the NLT version. What really stood out to me was that men should raise their hands during times of worship to pray to God. For what? I had supposed it was to pray for the people and that their hearts may be opened to God’s greatness and that all would worship Him as one body.

It stood out to me mostly because, well I am not a hand raiser. Why? I’ve never seen how raising my hands make me any closer to God as to not raising my hands. I’ve always thought it was a personal thing. Some people raise hands, some people dance, some people sing, some people run around, some people digest it all inside. Everyone is different. Everyone has their own way of worship and I am personally not one to conform to what everyone is doing just because. I need a reason.

Shortly after I read this passage I heard a sermon by Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch (or ChurchOnline). His message was about worship and he made an interesting point about raising hands in worship. It basically went like this: If you’re surrounding yourself, wether to the police or in a game, don’t we surrender with our arms in the air? Or how about when we receive victory, let’s say a touchdown, goal, etc. Don’t we also celebrate by placing our arms in the air in celebration?

Now, what is the point of worship? Isn’t it to surrender our lives to Christ while also proclaiming victory in His presence?  It makes me think a little, but the idea of it just seems silly. But then I think of 2 Samuel 6:21-22

.. will celebrate before the Lord.  I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes..

David knows his dancing is silly before the Lord, but He doesn’t care, in fact he says he will get even more silly. Why? Because his love for God is greater than his own pride/ego. That’s interesting to think about.

But there’s more. I looked at several other versions of 1 Timothy 2:8, and the NLT was the only version to use the word, “worship.”

1 Timothy 2:8

NLT

 In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.

ESV

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;

NIV

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

NKJV

 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;

MSG (8-10)

Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.

All these other versions say “everywhere.” Paul is telling us to raise our hands in prayer everywhere, it’s not just in the place of worship, it’s everywhere(well actually worship can be any and everywhere). I think that is pretty radical. For me, it’s a challenging idea.

Pray with your hands lifted to the Father.

That’s what I want to leave this post to be challenged by. Just once, try it. I know I will.

Why? Well cause I can’t imagine any other idea what Paul would have meant in raising holy hands to God. Maybe it was just a figure of speech, but maybe there is also some kind of power of lifting your hands, free from angry, free from pride and embracing in the silliness.

I don’t now, but I am willing to try.