When I was seventeen years old, I finally went to a church that some of my friends had been inviting me to for a couple of years. That night I heard the story of the prodigal son. I also saw, for the first time, people worshipping God. As I looked around at people who were lifting their hands in the air (as if both hands had a question for the teacher) and heard them singing songs about love, grace, and big houses, I began to wonder, “What is going on here?” The meeting progressed to the altar call, when the Holy Spirit touched my heart, and I gave my life over to God. I was changed. Perspective was brought to my soul. This, my friends, is better than physical sight!
Most of us, I would venture to guess, are embarrassed or self-conscious about lifting our hands to God during worship singing. We try to sing along quietly so people don’t whip their heads around at us to stare. But, please, oh please, don’t look at me while I lift my hands! I promise, I’m not a weirdo! This mentality, unfortunately, is vanity. It makes worship singing about personal performance. It distracts from our direct link to the Heavenly Father, who has “inclined His ear to our cries” (Psalm 88:2). Paul told Timothy, “I will, therefore, that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands.” (1 Timothy 2:8)
Our relationship with God is most like two very common relationships: marriage, and that link which exists between a father and a child. Luckily I have both relationships in my life for reference! To me, worship more closely relates to a father/son relationship. When my son needs something, he does his best, as a two-year-old, to communicate with me and ask for my help. He will reach up his hands to me when he wants me to pick him up. Sometimes his intent is that I will put him in a place that he needs to be, at other times it’s a simple wish to be close to me. Our Heavenly Father is much quicker to understand, give, and be compassionate when we cry out to Him. To me, lifting my hands to Him during worship is a way of showing Him that I have nothing and that I need His help for everything. Sometimes it’s from a need to be close with Him, and other times it is a cry for help.
This attitude is the sacrifice we offer to Him. As we learn from the Scriptures, the law of the Old Testament was contrary to everything about us and was even beyond our ability to do. Jesus’ aim was to “Blot out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and take it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” (Colossians 2:14) None of us could offer any sacrifice that would be sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the Law. Jesus died to impute righteousness to us. We sing many songs about this love and amazing grace. The only thing we exist for, from this point on, is to freely love God. It is our humble sacrifice (for, humble it should be) and the very nature of God is to “incline His ear.”