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A young child in a crowd who wishes to see what is going would instinctively stretch his/her arms upward to his parents begging to be raised above the crowd. Using this analogy, raising one's hands to God in praise is a way of asking God to raise us from the complexities of life (so we may see things clearly) and for us to also realize who we are and recognize who God really is.
Raising of hands is personal between the individual and God; so it wouldn't be right to question those who raise their hands and those who don't. We are in worship to show reverence and adoration for Jesus, by having our heart and mind on the Savior. I spent the first 17 years of my Christian walk in congregations where raising of hands in worship was considered "being out of order with the congregation during worship." In 1983 I had the priviledge of being exposed to an open praise & worship type service, which brought a new understanding for me concerning worship, which has intensified my hunger for my Savior Jesus Christ. Multiple biblical scriptures emphasize raising of hands in prayer & worship.
There are some Hebrew words in the Bible that are translated as "praise" or "bless" or "worship". Naturally this does not fully describe the act praising, or blessing or even worshipping. Here's an example: Psalm 61:8 says "So I will sing praise to your name forever, that I may daily perform my vows." The Hebrew word for praise used here is "Yadah" which means "to use, hold out the hand, to throw (a stone or arrow) at or away, to revere or worship (with extended hands, praise thankful, thanksgiving)" When you visualize the act it is possible to see the lifting of hands or praise with some kind of motion of hands. The different expressions found in Hebrew words are highlighted at this link: http://www.justworship.com/hebrewwords/hebrewwords.pdf
Ecclesiastes 3 says, 'There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens'. The time to clap or raise our hands in church is when the Holy Spirit, and not the flesh, puts the desire in our hearts. There is a difference between praise and worship. Praise can be loud and vocal but worship is when we come humbly and reverently into the Lord's presence and is usually a time of quiet adoration. Clapping when others are quietly worshiping in the Lord's presence is very unlikely to be from the Holy Spirit.
Just concern about women raising their hands. Within a certain context, the raising of hands is addressed to men but not to women. 1Ti 2:8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. 1Ti 2:9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, God bless.
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