There are many ways by which we can express our praise to God. We can use our mouths to speak, sing, or even shout our praise. We can use musical instruments to play songs of praise. We can use our feet to dance before the Lord. We can clap our hands as we sing our praise. And, we can lift our hands in praise.
The lifting of hands does not come naturally to everyone. Having been raised in a denomination where people did not lift their hands in church, it was foreign to me when I started to worship in a church where it was quite natural to do so. But, I have found that, not only is the lifting of hands Biblical, but it is also a gesture that expresses so much.
In the Bible, there are many references to the lifting of hands. In the Psalms, David mentions lifting his hands quite often. He lifts his hands to the Holy Place as he calls on the Lord for help (Psalm 28:2). Praising the Lord, he lifts his hands in the Lord’s name (Psalm 63:4). In Psalm 134:2, we are told to praise the Lord and to lift our hands in the sanctuary.
One of the Hebrew words for praise that appears in the Old Testament is yadah. This word means to throw the extended hand, to throw out the hand. Basically, to worship with extended hand. Another way to look at it is that we are casting are praise up to the Lord through the lifting up of our hands.
Beyond expressing praise, lifting our hands to the Lord can also express a number of other things. It can be a sign of joy, it can show surrender or submission to Him, and it can be our way of reaching out to our Father in heaven. What father can resist his child reaching out to him, looking for him to hold him?
When I lift my hands in praise to my heavenly Father, I am sometimes reminded of a memory from when I was a toddler. When I wanted my dad to pick me up and hold me in his arms, I would look up at him, lift up my hands to him, and say, “Come me!” I know that it touched his heart because he would talk about that, even when I was a grown man and a father myself. Imagine how our heavenly Father must feel when we lift up our hands to Him to praise Him and seek His face.