When I was growing up at First Baptist Church in Delano,
raising your hands in worship was not
considered appropriate. It's not that it was prohibited, but it just was
never done. Nevertheless, services at First Baptist were beautiful and I
often sensed the presence of the Lord during worship times.
When I went to college in Fresno, I visited various churches, and was
exposed to new styles of worship, including raising hands. While I was
(and often still am) reticent to raise my hands (because of my upbringing
which rejected hand-raising by saying "we don't want to be too showy"),
God's Word eventually
challenged me to consider whether or not I was being disobedient by my
refusal to raise my hands.
Indeed, Scripture seems to clearly command the lifting of hands as part of
a normal worship experience (see for example Psalm 134:2 and
1 Timothy 2:8).
However, I am not aware of any passage which tells us why we should
lift our hands in worship. I needed a reason!
I'm often accused of over-analyzing matters, so perhaps I did so with
this issue as well. Perhaps it would be better to just be obedient, submit
to the Spirit, and raise my hands because God wants me to. Nevertheless, in
order for me to feel right about raising my hands, I needed to write down
some of my motivations for doing so. And so, this song
came from my heart, as I asked myself, "why should I raise my hands
Perhaps you may raise your hands for different reasons. (Hopefully your
reason is not,
as my Baptist upbringing assumed,
to "show off" and make other people think you're more "spiritual"!) As
I've thought more about this, I've come to the conclusion that my reasons
for raising my hands in worship cannot be fully expressed by words (like
the Spirit's intercession of "groaning" mentioned in Romans 8:26). But
as I raise my hands in worship to God, my spirit cries "Abba, Father"
The second verse ("When we are here...") was written during a time of turmoil
at First Baptist in Delano. Although there was so much good in this congregation,
a difficult division had arisen, and this verse was my prayer that God would
purify us and "bind us as one body" in His love. Sadly, this wonderful
church I grew up in eventually was shattered in a painful split in 1990.
People I had grown up admiring went their separate ways, many refusing to
even speak to each other anymore. Terri and I felt like we had been through
If your local congregation is in the midst of a similar struggle, I pray
that these words encourage you to ask God to bind your local congregation
together in His love.