November 18, 2019
“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God.” The opening of Psalm 100 cannot be clearer to believers that worship is a command from the Lord. But what is worship and is there a correct way to do it? Does the Lord prefer one way to all others? If you are like me, I have been exposed to many different “worship traditions” in my life. Worship traditions can include a myriad of things, but the two that are most differing in style is the choice of raising hands or not during worship, and for the sake of this article I will be focusing solely on these. Personally, I do not raise hands when I worship and unfortunately have dealt with uncomfortable situations where I have been called out in my worship style because according to that person it was “not the right way.” I hope that this article will encourage all believers that worship is not how you do it, but Who you are doing it for, regardless of personal choice of style.
The idea of raising hands during worship has been reflected in both in Scripture and through the lives of Christian writers. In Psalm 134:2 it says, “Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord.” Multiple other passages affirm this form of worship throughout Scripture. Additionally, John Piper wrote an article on this very idea of raising hands during worship. Piper states, “Either it comes from the heart and is valuable as an expression of the heart, or it is a performance and has no worship value at all.” Authenticity is the core of hand-raising worship because without having the intent to worship God through it, all the person is doing is simply raising hands for attention. The focus should never be on yourself, or what people’s opinions are on your worship style, but Who you are worshipping. God created worship to bring praise and thanksgiving for the wonderful things He does in everyone’s lives. It is not a time to show off yourself, but to show off God. Raising hands in worship is an awesome way to express praise and worship to the Lord, but Christians should make sure that their heart intent is right.
What if you worship without raising hands? Worshipping involves joy. If you’re not worshipping with joy, you’re not worshipping at all. In Psalm 84 it says, “Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Happy are those whose strength is in you.” God commands us to be happy when coming before Him to worship. The problem that arises with people who do not raise hands is that they can come across as not joyful. That since there is no physical expression, that they are simply just singing the words but not meaning it. According to Christian journalist Chuck Abernathy, “We are encouraged in Galatians 5:25 that if we live in the Spirit that we should also walk in the Spirit… To keep step with Him is to be inconsistent fellowship with Him, and there is no better way to accomplish this than through daily personal worship, whereby we experience the beauty of His holiness and presence.” Personal worship is key in the life of a believer. When one does not show physical expression in worship, the focus should be on personal and internal praise with of course being joyful through and through.
No matter if you worship with arms lifted high, or by your sides, the focus should always be on God. Christians can become used to a certain way to worship, but I would like the key takeaway to be blind to how people worship and just enjoy the presence of God. You are not the focus, and neither are the people around you. Utilizing this idea will be freeing in the sense that you can worship with believers around you in harmony and show the true admiration that God deserves.
Written by: Mike Tammaro
Mike is a Junior double majoring in Finance and Economics and writes for the blog in order to expand my skills as a student. As a business major, the curriculum does not allow for a lot of creative writing, so being able to publish written work is freeing from my normal educational routine.