Question: "Should we raise our hands/clap our hands during worship?"

Answer: Scripture commands that we worship God, that we exalt His name and offer Him our praise. There is biblical precedent for both the lifting of hands and the clapping of hands as an act of worship. Psalms 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” In this instance, both clapping and shouting out joyful worship to God are urged. In 1 Timothy 2:8, we read, “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.” The emphasis of this verse is the attitude of the heart; however, we see that lifting hands is an appropriate posture for prayer and worship. Having these biblical precedents, we can safely conclude that both of those expressions can be an act of worship.

What we need to ascertain is if those expressions, or indeed if any specified expression, is an actual requirement for worship. In examining specific acts of worship in the Scriptures, we see there are a variety of expressions and postures. We’ve already seen the command to clap our hands and shout to the Lord. “The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: ‘He is good; his love endures forever.’ Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud” (2 Chronicles 5:13). So we see that singing praises and playing instruments were also appropriate expressions of worship. Singing as worship is also found in Ephesians 5:19, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.”

The postures of worship include standing, kneeling, prostrating ourselves, eyes lifted up, eyes cast down, and hands raised. We do not see one specific posture universally required in worship, and neither do we see one specific “authorized” expression of worship. We can conclude, therefore, that the raising of hands and/or the clapping of hands during worship is an appropriate expression of worship, although neither is required for worship. John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." Worship is a spiritual event, and true worship comes from the heart. If our worship is not heartfelt, it doesn’t matter what posture or expression of worship we use. If our worship is from the heart, God accepts our worship.