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Should we raise our hands/clap our hands during worship?

If you were to sit near my friend and me during a worship service at church, you’d see a beautiful blonde woman raising her hands to the sky and singing. Next to her, you’d see me, a woman with dark, curly hair and my hands on the pew in front of me, tapping quietly to the song. A row behind would be two elderly sisters, standing relatively still but with eager smiles. While we all have different postures, we have one thing in common: we’re all worshipping God.

One of the beautiful aspects of worship is that there isn't a specific commanded "way" of worshipping. Of all those people I mentioned, not one person's worship is better than the other. We are all fulfilling the commandant to worship the Lord and exalt His name.

What does the Bible say about how to worship?

Does Scripture say anything about what our hands should be doing during worship? There is actually a biblical precedent for clapping or lifting your hands. Psalm 47:1 says, “O clap your hands, all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy.” What an encouragement to have this outward expression of joy in our worship!

Then we have 1 Timothy 2:8, which says, “Therefore I want to men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or dissension.” Yes, this passage speaks specifically to prayer, but it’s still affirming the actions of physically expressing yourself during the times we come before the Lord.

Is clapping, lifting hands, or any specific posture or action required during worship?

If we stopped there, we would conclude that clapping or raising your hands in worship is required . But let's keep checking Scripture because there are multiple expressions of worship mentioned in the Bible.

Instruments and singing are mentioned in 2 Chronicles 5:13: “In unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and glorify the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the Lord saying, ‘He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting,’ then the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud...”

The New Testament also talks about singing as a form of worship. “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord...” (Ephesians 5:19). Not all biblical examples of worship have similar actions or postures, so we can conclude that any and all forms of worship are welcome and acceptable to God.

Worship is about the heart, and if your heartfelt worship means you stand there quietly with your eyes closed or if you raise your hands and sing until you lose your voice, God hears your worship and values it. Yet another reason why worshipping God is so beautiful—He is a creative God and doesn’t limit us to one way to show Him our worship.

TL;DR

While there is a biblical precedent for raising hands or clapping during worship, it is not required or deemed better or worse than other postures, such as standing, singing, kneeling, eyes cast down, etc. Worship is about the heart, so no matter how you choose to worship God, He hears you and sees you.

By: Heidi Joelle

Heidi Joelle spends her days staring at paperwork and making sure it is where it is supposed to be, how it is supposed to be, when it is supposed to be. And then she comes home and makes sure the porky little dog isn't eating a trashcan. Between these two events she tries to learn and see as much of the world around her as possible. 


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