Paul writes to Timothy: “I will therefore that men (and women, right?) pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” (1 Timothy 2:8, emphasis mine) Y’know, so much goes in to the act of lifting up your hands during a worship service. For me, it has to feel right—nothing against my church. There are times however that I don’t feel like doing it. What, are you overly concerned about what other people think? Uh. No. I refuse to do anything—especially when engaged in the most important activity of existence—from the motive of feeling pressured or…dared. God doesn’t work that way. I think that a similar thought pattern and process happens when we get in front of a crowd, either to speak or what-have-you. All of a sudden, you become extremely self-conscious and every invisible (perceived) flaw is open for the world to observe and critique. All eyes on me! Yikes. Trust me, they don’t really see all the things you think they do. The extremely sensitive individual must eventually deal with these thought structures. And while we may not have a problem dealing with one total stranger at a time, dozens or hundreds of complete strangers comprise a wall of input that the overly-sensitive person can’t take in and process while remaining circumspect, focused on themselves. Then again, there are those that are simply gifted in that area. Pray tell?
“Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight…” (Hebrews 12:1a)
How would the sea of humanity react if we flung off the mental constraints of shyness and doubt and insecurity, and just did what Paul says? “Pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands”? Well, don’t just do it because you feel the opposite! That’s never the right reason. If your heart is right before God and you don’t care what people think or, better said, the concept of another’s opinion doesn’t even enter the equation, go for it. That’s really how we’re supposed to live. So concerned about what God thinks (knowing that He loves us, of course), that another’s opinion—whether our own, or others’—isn’t even perceived. Worship God, and make everyone else uncomfortable. It’s totally doable, and I think in the right circumstances, sanctioned by God. And that’s the way to get to that state by the way: worhipping God in your heart. “Pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:7)
A question before we proceed: What do you think would be harder, to learn sign language and communicate silently? Or to speak without gesticulating one bit? That might sound a little weird, but humor me. Think about it. There’s a term in Linguistics: deictic. It’s a word that comes from the Greek and simply means “pointing out so as to prove”, one of many hand gestures that involuntarily accompany discourse and conversation. Whereas some disciplines use the word only in grammatical context, Linguistics places it in the act of conversing as a whole–more than merely words on a page.
You’re no doubt aware of the phrase “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. I think there’s an element of truth in that statement. There’s a two-verse passage in Proverbs (6:12-13) that has always intrigued me: “A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, (and here’s my emphasis) he teacheth with his fingers.” I’ve found that many of Solomon’s proverbs are inscrutable until the Lord brings me around to situations in life to which Solomon’s sayings directly apply. This is one of those phrases, one of those times.
Again, this might sound somewhat weird and highly specific, but notice what people do with their hands. It’s not like your trying to read their mind, or divine things about them through cunning. But when’s the last time you took a moment to notice people’s conversations through—not just their body language—but their gesticulations? An interesting observation.
“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:8, emphasis mine)
As an aside, there’s a story in book of 1 Samuel where “the ark of God was taken” (4:11) from the Hebrews by the Philistines after a crushing defeat. The Philistines then brought the ark to Ashdod (one of their cities) and put it “into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.” (5:2) Dagon was one of the many gods of the Philistine pantheon. The next morning, they discovered that the statue of Dagon had fallen to the ground overnight. They picked him back up and set him upright. The morning after that, “behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold…” (5:4, emphasis mine) Tsk. Tsk. I wag my finger. That’s pretty dramatic.
If you ever wonder what to do your hands, think about this passage from one of David’s psalms (63:3-4) “Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. Thus will I bless Thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in Thy name.”
Look God, hands!