Lifting Up Hands In Prayer

Question: 

“We have been discussing the admonition about prayer in 1 Timothy 2:8. Should we lift up our hands in prayer, as so many of the prophets and kings did under the Law of Moses?

Answer:

“Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” (1 Timothy 2:8; New American Standard Bible)

The idea of “lifting up holy hands” doesn’t refer to the physical posture so much as the “spiritual posture” or the purity of life and reverent attitude toward God. The one who prays to God is expected to be “holy” (1 Peter 1:15). Thus, the lifting up of holy hands is symbolic of holiness and purity. But the posture during prayer is not to show how righteous we are.

As to the physical posture in prayer, we find a wide variety listed in Scripture. People prayed while standing, sitting, lying face down, leaning on a staff, kneeling and probably in many other positions (Luke 18:11; Acts 21:5; Matthew 26:39; Genesis 47:31; Nehemiah 1:4). The point is not what is done with the physical body, but the spiritual attitude.

It is not wrong to lift up one’s hands during prayer or to lie face-down or to assume any other position. However, in the public worship of the church, there are some things to be considered. Will my lying face down to pray help, or hinder, the other worshipers? Will holding up my hands help, or hinder, the other worshipers?

Remember, we must “consider one another” (Hebrews 10:24). In your private prayers (Matthew 6:6), use any posture that helps you express reverence for God. But with the public prayers (in the assembly of the church), you must also consider other worshipers and how what you do will affect them.

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