Hands & Hearts in Praise to God

Lamentations 3:41

Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven.

Hebrews 4:16

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

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Several years ago I learned that especially for the Hebrew nation worship is not only a matter of voice and song, but a whole body experience. Joy is expressed not only in smiles but also in clapping, dancing, and raising of hands. Hebrew believers were expressive in their whole bodies. Sometimes we staid and reserved types are hesitant to become too expressive. Remember how Micah expressed her disdain over David’s exuberant dancing when the ark of the covenant was returned to Jerusalem.

While I am not a “holy roller,” I have more recently given in to the urge to raise my hands, or clap when moved with joy or thankfulness to God in times of worship. Some times are more appropriate than others to be sure. But just as tears of contrition or grief are appropriate when we experience loss or are made aware of the depth of our sin, so are raised hands and applause for God when we recognize the greatness of his gifts. There is something to be said for actually acting on good impulses, rather than stifling them.

There is yet another issue even more important than whether we dance, raise our hands, or clap our hands in worship. That is the attitude of our hearts before God. God looks not (only) on the outward appearance, but looks upon the heart. When we approach with boldness and faith, we will find grace and help in our time of need. That is a great promise. Perhaps that will lead us to give praise to God with uplifted hands, but more important, with our whole heart.

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