Tuesday, May 17, 2005

1 Timothy 1:18-2:8

How heavy are your hands?

It seems like a simple question, yet the answer can be elusive. Often they’ll feel lighter or heavier depending on the circumstances.

For example, in the common elementary school experiment where you press both arms firmly against the door jambs for a minute and then step into the room, your arms seem to be lighter than air as they magically rise by themselves. When our favorite team scores, our hands are easily thrust upward but have you ever tried to just hold them straight up in the air? It doesn’t take long before they feel like 50 pound weights attached to the ends of your wrists (see Exodus 17:8-16).

Let me ask the question a little differently…. How heavy are your hands when it comes to praising and praying to God? Verse 8 tells us, “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.

The first time I raised my hands in prayer, they felt like dead weight. I thought the practice better suited to the charismatic denominations and I was an Episcopalian. Episcopalians are known for being rather stoic in their expression of prayer and praise (the “Frozen Chosen” doesn’t simply describe the early service on a winter morning). Needless to say, I was very self-conscious about doing it myself. Amazingly enough, though, as I lifted them higher, I could feel praise welling up inside me. It felt as if all of me, body as well as spirit, was being given over to God.

Sadly, I haven’t praised God with “all of me” for quite some time. I don’t know why that is but I’m thankful for this reading to remind me of what once was. Would you do me a favor? For one full week, would you join me in raising hands to God in prayer? It need not be conspicuous; you could do it in your private prayer time. If you’re a little unsure, start by just turning your palms face up. Surely, you could do that.

After all, how heavy could your hands be?

Mark Vereb

P.S. For a scientific attempt at answering this question, see How can I weigh my hand only?

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