Raising Hands (Continued)

Last time I wrote, it was about raising hands in worship (Link here). At the very end of the post I said I would challenge myself to raising my hands.

I started off in just my living room, all alone. Turned on the worship music and I raised my hands. It may have been one of the most awkward things I’ve ever done. I kept thinking to myself, this is so silly! But quickly I was reminded of that verse about King David after he was caught dancing before the Lord. David says this in 2 Samuel 6:22

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

Something about that encouraged me. It brought me peace and joy. In that moment raising hands didn’t even seem like it was enough anymore, I wanted to do more! I began to embrace the silliness of it, because some how it brought me so much joy that I could worship God in that manner. I could fell God’s joy taking control of me.

I was excited to do it again, but next time not alone, but with others my age in the church.

When that time came, I was perfectly content keeping my hands in my pockets. I didn’t see the point again. I thought, maybe I will in the second half of worship. When the second half of worship came, again I was perfectly content with keeping my hands in my pocket.

I thought about worship. It bothered me that I knew exactly when a large group of people could raise their hands. I could predict on the beat when it would happen. There are certain worship cues that makes it happen. Sometimes it’s the progression of the drums beating faster, sometimes it’s the progression of the band playing louder. Sometimes it is triggered through certain words, such as “fire,” “heart,” “raised hands,” and etc.

It discouraged me.

I felt like worship time almost because a performance from the bands perspective. If we just do “this,” “this,” and “that,” than we will have people raising their hands and that will make our performance successful.

I honestly don’t think that’s the case, but in the moment, that is what I was being fed. I didn’t want to be a part of that system. I didn’t want to be manipulated to raise my hands. I didn’t want others to think I was raising my hands because of the progression of the drums, the loudness of the band, or even the stillness of the band. I didn’t want to be a part of the created experience.

Pride had set up a wall to keep me from worshipping God. A wall so high I couldn’t see what worship was really about, about praising God for who He is. To be honest, I believe we most let go of control. After all, isn’t it the worship leaders job to get us to praise God? What I learned is that I need to let go of my pride, and my control, and hand it over, in this case, hand it over to the worship leader.

Let go.

It took me to the last couple songs to be reminded why I had even wanted to raise my hands in the first place, just to pray over the people. It took me a while. I kept thinking, “I don’t want to raise my hands now because I know everyone else will be.” or, “I don’t want to raise my hands now because there’s no reason to in this point of the song and I don’t want people to think I’m dumb.” Just back and forth, back and forth. The thing is, if I were to listen to those two statements, than I would never raise my hands, I would never do anything but sit back and watch everyone else.

Something promptly, and I finally took my head out of worship and I just started praying with raised hands. At first, again it was so incredibly weird. Not to mention, it takes a lot of strength to keep holding your arms up. But I did. I embraced the silliness of it. It didn’t take long before I couldn’t imagine praying any other way. As I finished my prayer, I kept my hands raised and enjoyed the rest of worship like so.

Embrace it. God is so great, the more you can let go and just let the ‘silliness’ take over, the better. Don’t hold back, let it go.

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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.

Worship isn’t about Us

I’ve known for a long while that worship isn’t about me, but rather about God. I always thought I believed that. However I was still caught up in finding a worship style that fitted for me. While I was attending basic training, we had two different guys that would lead worship. Sometimes it was a guy on a guitar playing modern contemporary worship music, other times it was a man on a piano playing 4 lines over and over again. I always always preferred the man on the guitar. I would get so upset when we would show up and it was the man on the piano, it would ruin my whole Sunday morning church experience. 
I am now at AIT (Advanced Individual Training) and am currently attending a baptist church. This morning I was really missing my worship team from back home, I really miss that contemporary worship music. At the current church I am at, we usually sing what I consider a children’s song, listen to someone sing a song, attempt to listen to the choir sing a song (from where I am sitting it is super hard to hear them), we sing a verse to some hymn, and then just listen to a bunch of people sing solos. It’s completely not the worship style from back home that I love and so greatly miss. BUT, it is still every bit just as powerful. Every week I come with a group of about 10-20 soldiers, every week a handful of new soldiers give their life to Christ because of the worship style there, every week tears are shed through worship. The Holy Spirit is completely present there! 
What I have learned is that it doesn’t matter what you sing, it doesn’t matter if you can understand what you are singing, it doesn’t matter if you are simply trying to enjoy listening to a choir sing that you can barely hear, what matters is that you are simply trying to give some praise to God. The Holy Spirit doesn’t need a certain set of words to open peoples heart, it doesn’t need you to sing the most recent Hillsong United song, it doesn’t even need you to understand. The Holy Spirit is more powerful than we can ever give it credit for. Look at Jonah, he preached a 5 word message to Ninavah and it saved thousands of lives. It’s not about us. It’s all about Him.
What I learned this morning is, it’s not about me, it’s about Him. It’s simply letting Him do the work and you just listening to what He has to say. It’s not about what you want to hear, but what He has to say.