Time for a Raise!!…What does raise mean? Raise used as a verb…To help to rise or awaken, to stir up, to lift up, to place higher in rank or dignity, to elevate, heighten, invigorate, raise the spirits, to get together for a purpose to grow, cultivate, to bring to maturity, to increase the strength, intensity, to cause to rise in level or amount, to take to a higher place, to cause to ascend, or cause to multiply. I like it also when used as a noun, my favorite application for this article; A vertical or inclined opening or passageway connecting with another at a higher level.
There is a story in Exodus 17 that tells of a battle in which Israel was fighting. There were doubters in the congregation (isn’t there always) So Moses declared… Is God here with us, or not?” So Moses took it upon himself and told his people tomorrow as we will fight I will worship and praise God by raising my hands during the battle. It is important to note here that God did not command Moses to do this; he did it of his own accord. He said, “I will lift my hands to God”. The next day, as the battle went on, it turned out that when Moses would raise his hands, Israel would win, but when he lowered his hands they would lose. As the day wore on Moses’ arms and hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on the stone and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one of them on each side, they remained raised that way until the sun went down, and as a result Israel won the battle.
I tell this story because I believe there is great significance in raising our hands to God. I have fellow believers, some pastors that are good friends in other denominations, ask me “Why do you raise your hands”? I tell them it is something I do privately and also publicly in church with the body of Christ.
I was visiting a church recently and during the service, while singing a hymn, I raised my arms in praise. I could feel hundreds of eyes focused on me, and as I slowly looked around surveying the crowd, I realized I was the only one there with my hands in the air. I could tell from their glare, that it was not a practice of this particular church. So I slowly lower my hands, not that I was ashamed or thought I was wrong, but I did not want to be disruptive during worship. And that’s ok. I am not saying they were wrong. What I am saying is I believe it is a glorious honor and privilege to raise my hands to my God. There are scriptures I believe that I stand on to support my belief…..
1Timothy 2:8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands,
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands” (Psalm 63:4).
“I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land” (Psalm 143:6
“Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven” (Lamentations 3:41).
With our hands raised we are telling God “I am here in your presence; reach out to me, as I reach out to you. I receive you, as you speak to me, I will listen”. Raising our hands is an act of submission to receive from the Lord.
Sometimes when we worship with our hands raised we are exalting God We stand in his presence in awe of who He is, who He has been and always will be. Many times when I pray I will lift my hand to Lord when seeking Him and his direction in a prayer of surrender. I am saying, Lord I don’t know what to do or how to do it. It is beyond my human capabilities, I surrender it to you. I could just say it with my mouth, but when I raise my hands in surrender to His will, it stirs something deep in my soul.
In 1 Chronicles David prays a prayer showing complete surrender and honor to God. And David the king went before the Lord and said, who am I, O Lord God, that you recognize my presence, my house and family? I am but small thing in Your eyes O God, but you treat me with high esteem, O Lord God! What more I say for you honoring me in this way? You know the inner most part of my being, my heart and my thoughts. O Lord, as for me I am but your servant, I live only for you, I live my life in accord with Your own heart, for You alone bring forth greatness and make known all great things. Lord, all I see, all I hear, all my senses declare there is none like You, there is not any God besides You…..Now that’s a prayer of surrender.
Raising my hand to God is important to me and it is something I feel all believers should realize the opportunity and experience and do. We lift and orchestrate the instruments of our arms and hands in all kinds of venues, such as sporting events and concerts. The difference being when we do it in praise and prayer, God is the audience…..He blesses and loves us in our lives as we do with to Him with our arms raised and palms held high in worship.
If I raise my arm with my hand clenched in a fist, the expression it gives off is instantly recognizable as one of defiance or anger. So it is if I raise my arm with my hands open toward God, it is easily recognizable as both giving praise and honor and an invitation to receive from the Most High.
So sometime today, whether it be at home, in your office, in your car (preferably sitting at a stop light), in a closet, or on a streetcorner….it really doesn’t matter. Take the opportunity to raise your hands to God. Maybe you are like Moses and are in the heat of battle and need a miracle in your life to overcome some enemy. Maybe you feel overwhelmed, or broken. Maybe your children need the Lord or you need a job. Maybe you are like David who raised his hands for his soul was thirsty for God’s presence as the dry desert is thirsty for rain, or maybe as the Psalmist said” As long as I live I will bless you and in Your name I will lift up my hands”. Don’t let Sunday be the only time you raise your hands to God, take time today, and bless God and be blessed in return.