Sure, this person was doing it in church but that didn’t mean that it was right.
Reference: v.4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. (NIV Bible)
Explore: The church I grew up in as a child was very conservative. So it was a fairly significant experience for me when I first went to a charismatic service. To begin with I was excited that they had a band and that there were more young people in this church than we had in our whole congregation. But little did I now that a time of fear and trepidation was just around the corner for me. I had come with a friend who played flute in the band and so when the music was being played I was sitting up the front on my own. During one of the sung worship sets the leader started the song off by saying, ‘While we sing this song of praise, let us raise our hands to God.’ I totally froze. I had never raised my hand in praise before, I’d never seen anyone do it before and I didn’t know if I was really allowed to do it. Sure, this person was doing it in church but that didn’t mean that it was right. I was so afraid of doing the wrong thing before God that I stood up the front, my arms firmly pinned to my sides and prayed to God that I was not offending the people by not joining in on what they thought was worship. When I look back on that situation now I have to chuckle as I realise how ridiculous it is to think that raising your hands in worship is a sin against God. However, on the other hand I am also impressed that I was more worried about what God would think of me than what a large crowd of people would think of me.
Application: Raising our hands when we worship does not mean that we are more heartfelt in our praise than someone who does not raise their hands in worship. Doing something physical like that is just an outward expression of what we are saying. It’s like churches that use incense in their worship. As the smell filters throughout the building and as the smoke rises, this too is a sensual expression of our worship to God. Often we limit our worship to just music and singing but there are so many other ways we can bring praise to God. He created all the senses and so it seems natural to use all those senses to return the praise to God. The angels of heaven in John’s vision of Revelation had incense to offer God in worship. Whether you do that in your worship or not is not sinful but it is worth considering how we can use many of our senses to express our praise and adoration to our Creator.
Prayer: Lord, You created all things and yet we are inclined to only offer a small amount back to You in our worship. May you break down the barriers we hold to feel safe and comfortable so that we can worship You without inhibitions. Amen.
What are some ways we can use all our senses to praise God?
This article was written by Linda Bailey
Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.