The following is an exploratory study emphasizing select worship practices common in Bible times, yet uncommon in our fellowship.
We hope that by expanding our awareness of the heart worship practices in Bible times we will increase the desire to deepen our worship experience today.
HOLY HANDS? Paul (in 1 Timothy 2:8) says, "I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing." Interestingly, Paul apparently assumes that Christians “everywhere” are familiar with the practice of lifting up one’s hands in worship—even among ‘next generation’ Gentile disciples, in Ephesus, 30 years after the cross.
The expression “holy hands” is unique to this passage; Paul appears to be using it to figuratively suggest the ideal holiness of the entire person (not just his hands!). In other words, men should be holy when they lift up their hands to God in prayer, which for Paul’s audience means 1) hearts free from internalized anger, and 2) relationships free from disputes—hinting at problems within the Ephesian congregation. Therefore, while affirming the common practice of lifting hands in prayer, Paul’s emphasis here is on the proper heart behind the practice, that expressing your love for God is intimately connected with “loving your neighbor.”
This appears to be the only New Testament mention of lifting ones’ hands in worship. Even so, it’s meaningful to keep in mind Paul’s assumption that everyone everywhere was acquainted with it. Lifting one’s hands in prayer enjoys a very ancient heritage...
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