Is Raising Hands in Church a Distraction?

raising-hands-in-churchYears ago I came across many Scriptures that had people raising their hands to God in prayer, like Solomon dedicating the temple and David crying out to God in praise in the Psalms. Over and over again, I saw people raising hands in the Bible.

I have always attended churches where it is considered a distraction for people to raise hands, even when a song said, “I will raise my hands.” I always thought that was silly, like singing the song, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” while remaining seated. (This actually happened at my friend’s church!) Sometimes one or two people would raise hands at my church, but by and large, it felt uncomfortable to do it. I didn’t want people to stumble by being distracted, so I didn’t do it. Besides, it was weird.

One day I decided to open my hands, facing upwards, but with my hands at the level of my stomach so it wouldn’t distract anyone. This position made me feel vulnerable before God, and I realized that my worship was much more intense as a result of it. It was almost as if the Holy Spirit filled me up in a fresh way. I felt a wonderful sense of freedom. I felt clean and peaceful.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband was in charge of the sound system, and I sat alone with my children a few rows back. As I was praising God, I decided to open my hands to God, but with my body blocking my hands. I knew the song, so I closed my eyes and sang with everything in me. As the song ended, I opened my eyes to see my five-year-old daughter with her hands raised straight up in the air. So much for being incognito! I smiled at her as I quietly lowered her hands. I didn’t look around – I didn’t want to know if someone had been distracted.

Then I realized something. Who cares? In fact, if my raising my hands makes me feel closer to God, then it might encourage someone else to raise their hands to praise God, too. And maybe that other person would feel the presence of the Holy Spirit just like me. Maybe it was a sin for me not to raise my hands, if the reason I did so was fear of what other people would think of me.

So today I did something bold. I actually raised my hands for real for the first time. I sang with all my heart, and I felt so much joy that tears streamed down my face. I felt the words of the song deep in my soul. This time I didn’t care that my daughter was copying me. I noticed that the worship leader’s wife was smiling at me as she raised her hand, too.

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6 Responses to “Is Raising Hands in Church a Distraction?”

  1. Christie says:

    Nehemiah 8:6
Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, ” Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

    Psalm 28:2 
Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.

    Psalm 28:2
 Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.

    Psalm 119:48
And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes.

    Psalm 134:2
Lift up your hands to the sanctuary And bless the LORD.

    Psalm 141:2
May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.

    You know how I feel. I specifically asked to find a Church that was correct in it’s doctrine and didn’t mind lifting hands in the Sanctuary. Here are some verses to support you. Quench not the Spirit. I am always amazed that in the Voice of the Martyrs pictures, so many of the foreign Churches have hands lifted in the Sanctuary. Not a couple people but the whole congregation.

    Lamentations 2:19
”Arise, cry aloud in the night At the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water Before the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to Him For the life of your little ones Who are faint because of hunger At the head of every street.”

    Lamentations 3:41
We lift up our heart and hands Toward God in heaven;

    1 Timothy 2:8
Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

  2. Susan Evans says:

    Wow, Christie, thanks for all the verses. I knew there were tons of verses; I just never wrote them down. And that the Voice of the Martyrs pictures have everyone raising hands — they just don’t care about anything else but worshipping God when they’re singing.

  3. Lisa V. says:

    To think, I almost didn’t read this because I thought you were against raising hands. LOL! What a great article and also a wonderful commentary by Christie. I was raised in a conservative church where never a hand was raised, so I must admit it was culture shock when we began attending a charismatic church where hands were regularly raised in surrender and worship to God. It was a couple years later, as a teen, before I was ready to lift my hands as well. And when I did, I decided it didn’t really matter what anyone thought because I was showing my surrender and love to God. Afterall, if people are just watching others, I wonder if they are really worshipping at all. Everyone must instead follow their hearts and focus on the source of our praise and worship being lead by the wonderful Holy Spirit.

    Thanks for sharing ladies.

  4. Jason says:

    Many churches are too rigid in what is required in worship… so David danced before the Lord…

    I am Pentecostal and we are open to raising our hands and even standing… There is liberty to what we do. And, when we stop exercising fear and worship as led by the Holy Ghost, He moves! Many deliverances and victories have happened. We have saw miracles and even sign gifts. The gifts of tongues and interpretation of tongues operate occasionally.
    Services have even been so Spirit-filled with the Spirit pouring out that it has lasted over an hour and we did not even have time for preaching!

    When we do not obey God, or do not do Biblical things in worship, we are hindering ourselves from a blessing and also for other people. When we lift up our hands and voices in worship and praise, mighty things happen. In Acts, when Paul was in jail, him and other prisoners began singing and shouting high praises unto God. And, the shackles, the bondages, the chains were not only loosened on them, but on everyone else!!! When we praise, we loosen our own bondages and everyone else’s.

    God Bless,
    Jason the Public School Kid who will homeschool when I grow up if in a terrible school district!

  5. Harland says:

    Raising your hands during singing is one thing. But what about interruptions during the Sermon?
    It’s pretty hard not to be distracted while someone is constantly yelling “Amen”; “Preach it!”; “Speak the Truth, now”; etc. etc. while the pastor is giving his sermon. Or when people are allowing their kids to run around, up and down the isles…screaming and shouting. I’ve been to churches where a small child would run down the isle, circle the Pastor while he was talking, and run back down the side, and nobody said anything about it. They even posted in the bulletin that you shouldn’t discipline the little children, you don’t want to discourage them from coming to church…How does one help from being distracted…isn’t all this demonic behavior? There’s a time to dance and raise hands…but isn’t there a time to be quiet and listen too?

    • Susan says:

      Parents are commanded in Scripture to train and discipline their children, so that’s one thing. But there are some churches (like Black Baptist churches) that the preachers are encouraged when people shout “Amen!” They are sad when no one is making any noise because they feel that the congregation might be sleeping or not paying attention.

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