Praying with Raised Hands, Part 1

“Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.” – Psalm 28:2

One of my goals for 2012 is to read through the entire Bible, making this year the third year in a row I’ve studied God’s from cover to cover*.  Studying God’s Word in this way has been extremely beneficial to my life as I’ve learned more about the Lord and His ways.

My Bible reading today was Exodus 16-18. Several truths jumped out at me in these three chapters. However, the one I want to share with you occurs in Exodus 17:8-16, when the Israelites were in the desert, shortly after leaving Egypt.

While the Israelites were camped at Rephidim, no doubt resting from their long journey, they were attacked by the Amalekites. As leader, Moses formed a plan and ordered Joshua to choose men to engage in the battle.

Joshua did as Moses commanded, and while the men fought valiantly against their enemies, Moses was doing war on a different front. He stood on top of a hill, holding the staff of God in his hands, and arms extended toward Heaven. The Bible says, “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning.” When Moses dropped his hands, though, the Amalekites were winning (Exodus 17:11.”

It’s easy to read past these verses and think, That’s really neat. What a great story. However, we must not miss the significance of Moses’ physical position:  

1.      His lifted hands were an acknowledgement of the Israelites’ complete dependence upon the Lord. They needed God’s help to overcome their enemies.

2.      By extending his arms upward, Moses put himself in a posture of praise. He was worshipping the Lord and trusting Him for deliverance, even before the victory had come.

3.      Moses called out to God while standing on top of a hill. He didn’t stay down in the valley to pray privately. Instead, he gave glory to God in the sight of all the people.

Moses’ first response to the enemy’s attack was to pray. He cried out to God, not just with his mouth but also with his whole being. He threw his hands high in the air, almost as if he was trying to reach the very throne room of God, not caring who saw him or what they thought about his actions.

When you talk to God, let your whole body enter into the time of prayer. It doesn’t matter if you are “charismatic” or not! Praise the Lord with uplifted arms. Don’t let fear keep you from worshipping the Lord in this way. The Bible speaks much about the outward this physical demonstration of praise and how powerful it is (as we will see in part 2 of this devotion next week).

If you’re not sure about this whole “raised hands” issue, I challenge you to do a search in the Bible and see what God says about it. I’ve leave you with a few to get you started:
Psalm 63:4
I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
Psalm 77:2
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring handsand my soul refused to be comforted.
Psalm 119:48
I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.
Psalm 134:2
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD.

Next Week: Part 2


*Join me in reading through the Bible this year. There are many helpful calendars online that will keep you on track. Following is the one I use: