Why Won’t You Raise Your Hands? Not a Directive, Just a Challenge


When Moses stood before the burning bush he took off his sandals and hid his face, for he knew that he stood upon holy ground – in God’s presence. But now, even after Jesus has promised us that He will be there amongst us when “two or three are gathered together” in His name (Matthew 18:20), you stand idly by, your hands in your pocket, reciting words you don’t believe.

Why won’t you raise your hands?

“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” — John 4:23-24

Why won’t you worship Him?

You will leap to your feet in exultation when your sports’ team succeeds, and scream out the lyrics to your favourite song, but when it comes to glorifying the Creator of the universe, the Lord God Almighty, you stand still.

You jump up and hug someone you saw three days earlier, but you refuse to see the words you sing as anything more than a delay.

Why won’t you raise your hands?

When King Solomon prayed at the dedication of the Lord’s temple, when the ark of the Lord’s covenant was brought from Zion to its new home, “Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire congregation of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven” and prayed (1 Kings 8:22).

Why won’t you raise your hands?

Is today hard? Has the week left you bereft of energy? Are you heartsick or mourning?

We have all been there, and if you keep your hands and head down today, then He understands.

But has God been good to you this week? Has God brought you through hard times, or easy times? Are you alive and able to glorify God? Has God done anything worthy of worship?

Why won’t you rejoice and shout?

“Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.” — Psalm 63:3-4

Why won’t you lift up your hands?

You say you are His, and honour Him with your lips, but your hearts are far from Him. Your worship of Him is man-made apathy, learned by rote. (Isaiah 29:13)

Why won’t you worship Him?

Are you not an expressive person? Are you the one who normally keeps their emotions in check?

God doesn’t want you to worship Him simply to please others. He wants you to worship Him with all of you – not all of someone else.

But doesn’t the saving work God has done in your life warrant breaking through your comfort-zone? Hasn’t Jesus saved you from eternal damnation, and brought you into a loving relationship with the author of that salvation?

Don’t you see the rivers and the mountains striving to praise God? (Psalm 98) If you keep quiet, the stones will cry out in praise to God. (Luke 19:40)

Why won’t you raise your hands?

“Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” — Romans 12:1-2

Why won’t you raise your hands?

When you sing “All the good You’ve done for me/I lift up my hands for all to see”, do you imagine your actions need not match the words you say?

Would you ever shout to the Lord, proclaiming Him from the rooftops?

When you sing “I lift my eyes/I lift my eyes up/Maker of the heavens/I lift my hands/I lift my hands up/Standing in Your presence/You are never far”, do you really think that standing in God’s presence does not require you to act as you sing?

Why won’t you raise your hands?

Moses’ raised arms were the only thing that won the day for the Israelites when the Amalekites attacked – a sign of his surrender to the only One who could really win the battle (Exodus 17). King David raised his hands to God in supplication (Psalm 28) and in blessings to the Lord (Psalm 134).

Why won’t you surrender?

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous” says the Psalmist (Psalm 33). We are to “rejoice”, “praise”, “make music”, “sing”, “play skilfully”, and “shout” to the Lord in praise. Paul tells us we should be “singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father” (Ephesians 4:19-20).

Why won’t you praise Him?

Are you infirmed and incapable of raising your hands? Then let your face show-off the joy within your heart.

It is God alone who will see what your heart truly sings – whether your hands are raised or not. But let God see hands raised in your heart’s joyful outpouring to Him for all He has done for you.

Why won’t you lift up your heart?

Do you honestly feel as if you don’t need to raise your hands to praise God? If so, I would challenge you to ask why – why do you feel you don’t need to express yourself physically when worshipping God?

Or maybe you’re a dancer – a two-step shuffler or an out-in-the-aisle mover. Maybe you’re a smiler, a sway-er, or an eyes-closed worshipper.

But if all you do is stand, hands by your sides or crossed across your chest, staring blankly ahead, does all you believe really not tempt you to respond?

Why won’t you raise your hands?

Maybe you don’t want to raise your hands when you sing in church – and maybe that’s OK.

But maybe you should.

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