Wed. May 29th, 2024

I raise my hands up!

It is a gesture of petition, thanks as well as praise.

When words do not manage to express what is felt in the heart, gestures help speech.

A surprising difference in meanings: I think something different when I hear “he holds out his hand” than when I hear “he holds out his hands”. In the first example I think he is seeking agreement. Or that he’s stealing 😊. In the other he is asking for help. Three meanings from the two, only differing in the number of the noun . . . It’s a fact that the hands, after the tongue, are the most “talkative” part of the body. The gestures made with them can be ambiguous, small differences sometimes change the meaning radically. So, today let’s take a look at one of these gestures: the gesture of hands, outstretched upwards.

Well, you can also stretch out your hands in front of you. By the way, this gesture can also be ambiguous, expressing among other things, that I am asking, I want to receive. Or, that I give, I want to give. Even if not for a particular thing, then for a heartfelt embrace. As it is in relationships between people. Because earthly are for those who keep their feet well grounded. But when I extend my hands to the One who lives “on high”, I lift my hands up. Because – according to Christian symbolism – He is above, in heaven.

This gesture can mean petition. And it happens that is how it has been understood in the Bible – certainly when the Psalmist (Ps 28) exclaims:

To thee, O Lord, I call;

    my rock, be not deaf to me,

lest, if thou be silent to me,

    I become like those who go down to the Pit.

Hear the voice of my supplication,

    as I cry to thee for help,

as I lift up my hands

    towards thy most holy sanctuary.

This is also the case in the well-known scene of Israel’s battle with the Amalekites, when Aaron and Hur had to hold up the hands of Moses toward heaven in prayer (Ex 17). When Saint Paul wrote to Timothy, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling” – but not necessarily only to ask. After all, it can also indicate thanksgiving or praise of God. How is this? As a matter of fact, the contrary is apparent. After all, in every complaint or petition addressed to God is the faith that He can help, isn’t it? And this is already praise, it is already recognising His power, His might. So, in asking of God, it is also praising Him. And in this twofold, only seemingly contrary senses, the gesture of extended hands is used by the priest during the Eucharist. Which obviously does not mean that it cannot be an element of every prayer.

Raising up hands can therefore be an expression of directing prayer to God. What I am asking for, what I feel in my heart, will determine how, and also how high, I will raise my hands. Well, of course, if I am expecting a gift from God, I will hold my hands as if God will place it in my hands😉. If I ask “save me, pull me out” – from the swamp of sin or from the pit my enemies dug for me – I will hold my hands as if waiting to be pulled out.

Raised hands may also be an expression of my joy before God, my praise and worship. It’s natural. In everyday life raising hands is also a sign of joy. The “our” goal has been scored, that I’m at a great concert. And in the same way, the hands can express the joy that God hears me, that He has given to me. Or simply that He just is . . .