Should Christians raise their hands during worship services? The motivations behind the act are key to answering the question, two pastors have argued.
Lifting hands in worship makes some people uncomfortable and it should not be required of them in churches, but it does bring a particular spiritual freedom, John Piper says.
The Reformed theologian and former lead pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota explained in an AskPastorJohn podcast episode earlier this week that during the 1970’s he sat in a chapel service beside a faculty member who during a prayer simply laid his hands, palms up, on his lap. Piper felt disgust seeing him do that at the time.
“I don’t remember what was going on in my soul at that time, but what I feel now is nothing but shame and remorse at such an arrogant and judgmental attitude.”
Approximately five years later while pastoring he had encouraged Bethlehem Baptist to do an all-night prayer meeting once or twice a year to pursue God intentionally as a church. At 2 a.m. in the morning, twenty to thirty people were praying together and their worship leader was leading simple choruses of praise.
“[A]nd suddenly I found my hands lifted in the air, and it was as though I was watching myself rather than doing it. I had never, in 36 years of my life, lifted my hands in song until that moment,” Piper said.
“To this day, I cannot explain what happened, except that it bore fruit in what felt and feels to me now like a release from a very significant bondage.”
He recounted these events as part of an answer to a question a listener to his podcast asked him about passages of Scripture like 1 Chronicles 16:23-31 and Psalm 95:1-2 which speak of bold praise, which made him wonder why everyone did not raise their hands.
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Source: Christian Post