Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why I Don't Raise My Hands

I'm Southern Baptist. Born and bred, and right proud of it. Baptists, as a general rule, aren't physically expressive people. You want a committee, we're there. A potluck, we're on it. We will take votes and have discussions until the end of days. Most of us can talk the hind leg off a donkey. But we aren't usually criers, and we aren't dancers, and we don't jump up and down. Hand raising ( and I'm talking worship here) has only just started to creep in- usually from the "new recruits", those reared in different denominations.

And I want to clearly state: I DO NOT have a problem with that! We serve an enormous God, and I believe worship comes in many forms. But let's get this straight: true worship comes from the heart, it's not for show, and it shouldn't be about anyone but your heart and the heart of God. If what I am doing is distracting or for display, then I have missed the point entirely. Raising your hands should only happen because you can't *not* raise your hands- if you didn't you would be so focused on it that you would cease to focus on God. And I truly believe that is the case for many of my fellow worshipers-they must lift their hands, it is an act of true worship.

But the thought of that for myself makes me uncomfortable. For me, raising my hands doesn't promote worship, it inhibits it. I feel as if people are looking at me, and I can't stand that. Worship does not make me feel like raising my hands.

And I realized today why. When I am truly worshiping -in a state where the only beings are me and my Lord, I am humbled, truly in the presence of the King. And that makes me want to fall on my face. I don't want to do anything but bow so deeply that the lowliness of my spirit is completely evidenced by my posture.

And let me tell you: that is a decidedly un-Baptist thing to do. I can't imagine the uproar that would ensue if I laid down on the floor of the sanctuary during Sunday morning service. And that would directly contradict the purpose, because causing a distraction to others would not benefit the heart of worship.

And I'm okay with that. Because I believe in a God who sees and knows our hearts. And He sees my heart, that spiritually I'm down on my face before Him. And so instead, I close my eyes and bow my head. Often tears stream down my face. And I worship: just me and my Lord.

But you better believe- when it really is just me, in the quiet of my own home, I do fall down. I can't not give in to the overwhelming gratitude and humbleness of spirit that overtakes me when I think of the amazing, awesome, completely perfect God that I served. So if you ever see me at church, I might not have "my hands held high", but that is only because I'm too busy on my knees. And I'm pretty sure, that hands raised or hearts kneeling, He finds it all very pleasing.


  1. Oh how my heart loved this post! I do so feel the need sometime to raise my hands, I almost never do though. I feel that I would be looked at, and as you point out distracting. However I often do cry. At church, in my Van, cleaning my kitchen with the stereo on! Worshiping our King is personal and I know he is pleased no matter how or where we express it:) Love your "deeper" posts. Always better than any devotional book anyday!

  2. For the longest time I, too, felt it awkward to raise my hands. It seemed "for show" or something non-true-worship-based. For whatever reason, I've recently had my moments feeling like I can't *not* yet I still hesitate because for so long I felt like it was maybe not an ok thing to do. But, like you indicated, it is about the heart. Are we trying to prove to those around us how spiritual we're being or are we truly so wrapped up and focused in praising and worshiping our Savior that we are bursting forth? Therein lies the crucial question and only the "hand-raiser" knows the answer. I, for one, am trying to be open and allow the Spirit to lead me, however that may be. It seems you, my dear, do the same :)

  3. While not a hand raiser either, I do come alive in the privacy of my own bedroom. Sometimes my best moments of worship come while I'm listening to music and worshiping in the privacy of my own home.

    I long for the day when we will bow before Him and cast our crowns at His feet. Come Lord Jesus, come!

  4. I thought I was the only one who wanted to bow in church! I never have, but I've wanted to, for the very same reason you said: it would distract.

    Thanks for being transparent, Clare. :)



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