That everyone who thirsteth for the truth may obtain it, these publications are, as a Christian service, provided without charge. They levy but one exaction: the soul's obligation to itself to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. The only strings attached to this free proffer are the golden strands of Eden and the crimson cords of Calvary - the ties that bind.
1 Tim. 2:8 – "Therefore I desire that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."
"Why not pray as if you had a conscience void of offense, and could come to the throne of grace in humility, yet with holy boldness, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting? Do not bow down and cover up your faces as if there were something that you desired to conceal; but lift up your eyes toward the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ your Mediator stands before the Father to present your prayers, mingled with His own merit, and spotless righteousness, as fragrant incense." Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p 241.
1 Kin. 8:22 – "Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven..."
1 Kin. 8:54 – "And so it was, when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the LORD, that he arose from before the altar of the LORD from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven."
1 Kin. 8:38 – "... whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all your people Israel when each one knows the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple..."
2 Chr. 6:13 – "... (for Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits broad and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it knelt down on his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread out his hands towards heaven)..."
2 Chr. 6:29 – "...whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief and spreads out his hands to this house..."
Neh. 8:6 – "And Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. Then all the people answered, 'Amen, Amen!' while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground."
Note: This was not while praying but while the law was being read.
Ezra 9:5 – "At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God..."
Job 11:13 – "If you would prepare your heart, and stretch out your hands toward Him..."
Ps. 8:2 – "Hear the voice of my supplications When I cry to you; When I lift up my hands toward your holy sanctuary."
Ps. 63:4 – "Thus I will bless you while I live: I will lift up my hands in your name."
Ps. 88:9 – "My eye wastes away because of affliction. LORD, I have called daily upon you; I have stretched out my hands to you."
Ps. 119:48 – "My hands also I will lift up to your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes."
Ps. 134:2 – "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD."
Ps. 143:6 – "I spread out my hands to you; My soul longs for you like a thirsty land. Selah."
Isa. 1:15 – "When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear..."
Ps. 141:2 – "Let my prayer be set before you as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice."
Lam. 1:17 – "Zion spreads out her hands, but there is no one to comfort her; the LORD has commanded concerning Jacob that those around him become his adversaries; Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them."
Lam. 2:19 – "Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children who faint from hunger at the head of every street."
Lam. 3:41 – "... let us lift our hearts and hands to God in Heaven."
HOW, WHEN, AND WHERE?
Now that we see that we are admonished to lift our hands in prayer, the above stated questions remain to be answered. First, we will look at
This may be understood by looking into the purpose for lifting up our hands. In Lamentations we read, "... let us lift our hearts and hands..." So along with our extending our hands, we are to extend our "hearts." While in some verses we read that we are to "spread" our hands, in others we are told to "stretch" out our hands. Both of those words are translated from the same Hebrew word, so their meaning is the same.
We are also told to "lift up" our hands. But how high? The simplest example of stretching forth and lifting up of one's hands and heart can be observed in a little child who is doing such in order to be picked up by their loving father or mother in order than they may be comforted, protected, and/or nearer to their face. In such a time, the child's arms and hands are fully extended upwards in the firm expectation of their expectation being granted, and with the accompanying emotional enthusiasm. We should express no less in our lifting our hearts and hands to our glorious Creators and Redeemers. While our hands, themselves, can be spread or stretched at any elevation, they can only truly be lifted up by the full extension of the arms. In said posture the heart is being more fully expressed through the arms and hands than in any other position.
Next we will look at
For this we will look to Solomon's example.
"For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven." 2Ch. 6:13.
Therein we find an example of one praying in a public setting – "before all the congregation." Solomon was both kneeling and lifting up his hands. But what about the rest of the people? Of this we read,
"Solomon then knelt upon the platform, and in the hearing of all the people offered the dedicatory prayer. Lifting his hands toward heaven, while the congregation were bowed with their faces to the ground." Prophets and Kings, p. 40.
Thus we see that the one praying (Solomon) was lifting up his hands while the people were not said to be lifting up their hands also, but "were bowed with their faces to the ground." This indicates that one's hands are to be lifted while he/she is praying aloud, but not when they are in the presence of someone else who is praying.
There are times when many are engaged in group prayer where one prays aloud and then another. In such a circumstance, it would be very tiring for all to lift up their hands while each individual is praying aloud. Therefore, when in such circumstances it would be appropriate for the one praying aloud to lift up his or her hands and eyes while praying, and the others bowing their heads towards the ground in reverence, until it is their time to pray aloud. Then they should lift up their hands and eyes as they add their voice in their petitions.
But there are other circumstances in which we find the whole congregation lifting their hands at the same time, to wit –
"And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: and Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground." Neh. 8:5, 6.
In that circumstance, the people were responding to the fact that "Ezra blessed the LORD," and were joining him in doing likewise with their hands lifted up and their faces towards the ground.
When one is in private prayer it is always appropriate to lift up one's hands and voice –
"Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice." Ps 55:17.
This brings us to
There are a couple of different aspects to this point. The first is the "where" to which we are to address our prayers and praise.
"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up." Ps 5:3.
There we see that the Psalmist says that he will "look up." When Solomon offered his prayer at the dedication of the temple, it is said that he "spread out his hands toward heaven..." 1 Kin 8:22 (See also 2 Chr 6:13).
Yet, in that prayer he speaks of the people spreading out their hands in prayer "toward this temple..." (1 Kin 8:38) – "to this house..." (2 Chr 6:29).
The reason why Solomon, himself, prayed "toward heaven," and then later spoke of the people directing their prayers and praise "toward this temple..." ("to this house...") was he was standing on the threshold of a change in circumstances. The Lord was about to come to tabernacle in the temple (house) they had just finished building. Thus Solomon prayed towards heaven where God's presence was until the change was made, and after that change, they prayed towards His house where His presence was come. Of this coming to the temple we read –
"Now therefore arise, O LORD God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness. ...
"Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.
"And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD's house." 2 Chr. 6:41; 7:1, 2.
As that temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, hundreds of years before Christ's first coming, and the temple that replaced it was destroyed decades after Christ's ascension, there is currently no place on earth towards which we are called to direct our prayers. And, as we know that there is a temple in heaven (of which the temple on earth was a copy), in which Christ ministers as our great High Priest, it is to there which we are to direct our prayers and praise.
The question then is, where is that most holy place? The following section from The Shepherd's Rod, Vol. 1, addresses this matter.
"The following argument was put forth to an audience in a certain metropolitan city recently by a man who was attired in Indian costume, and who claimed to be a half-breed Indian. This man said, 'This earth of ours rotates on its axis once in every twenty-four hours. During the day we stand on top of the earth with the sun over head, but at night we stand underneath the earth, hanging by our feet with moon and stars below us in space. If you meet a Christian at midday,' continued the Indian, 'and ask him where he is going, he will tell you he is going to heaven. If you ask him, Where is heaven? he points up toward the sun, and says, 'There is heaven.' But you meet him twelve hours later, at midnight, while he is under the earth, and ask him then where heaven is. This time he points up toward the stars, thinking he is pointing in the same direction as he did at midday, and says, 'There is heaven'. ...
"What this Indian has said is true, as far as his objection is concerned." The Shepherd's Rod, Vol. 1, p. 182, 183.
"Answer To The Indian's Argument On Pages 182-3
" 'Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.' 2 Tim. 2:15. 'But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: And be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.' 1 Pet. 3:15. The commandment in the Bible is that a Christian must study, and that he also must give an answer to every man. This Indian being one of the 'every man,' according to the Scriptures there must be a way, and it is the duty of a Christian to give him an answer with meekness and fear.
" 'For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.' Isa. 14:13. Lucifer wished to ascend in the sides of the north because God's throne is there. Said the Psalmist, 'Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.' Ps. 48:2.
"God's throne is in the north. One may point to the north at any time from any part of the earth, and the extreme end of each line would meet at the same point. Had the so-called Christian pointed to the north, the answer would have been proper and in harmony with the Bible; thus both the confusion and the whip would have been avoided. Pointing to the north does not mean that heaven is somewhere in the north corner of the celestial expanse of stellar bodies, for we understand that God's throne is in the center of the universe.
"The axis of the earth tilts in a slanting direction in relation to its orbit. If we point in another direction than north or south at any time it would be either east or west. In the daytime, pointing in any direction (except with the axis of the earth) we are pointing to the east (the sun), and at night to the west, with no specific direction into space. Pointing to the sun constitutes east; the opposite direction to the sun is west dealing with our solar system only, but the direction of north deals with the center of the universe.
"There is no such thing as up and down in space. The only thing that would constitute up is the center of attraction (God's throne): Down (or south) is in the opposite direction from God's throne, (the great celestial expanse). The center of attraction is surrounded by island universes. The axis in each island universe (or suns, planets, and worlds) all point to one center of attraction (God's throne). This great and most supreme sovereign center stands as the highest peak on a great mountain around which all creation revolves, each suspended by an unseen power (chain) attached to its north axis similar to the pendulum hanging from a great clock." Ibid., p. 204, 205.
Thus we see that if we face north when we pray, that we will be facing the heavenly Sanctuary where Christ stands to intercede His blood for our salvation.
The other aspect of this is in regards to where we should pray kneeling with lifted hands, and concerns prayer in public situations among unbelievers, and circumstances where it would be difficult for all of those present to kneel. If one will look at Ellen White's own example of prayer in such situations, it will be found that she sometimes prayed standing, without lifting up her hands. Selected Messages, Vol. 3, p. 266-270, contains some of these incidences.
Notwithstanding these special circumstances, we have the following counsel –
"Both in public and in private worship, it is our privilege to bow on our knees before the Lord when we offer our petitions to him." Gospel Workers, p. 178.
"Both in public and private worship it is our duty to bow down upon our knees before God when we offer our petitions to Him. this act shows our dependence upon God." 2 Selected Messages, p. 312.
"There should be an intelligent knowledge of how to come to God in reverence and godly fear with devotional love. There is a growing lack of reverence for our Maker, a growing disregard of His greatness and His majesty." Manuscript 84B, 1897. (quoted in 2 Selected Messages, p. 312.)
Therefore, let us, as little children, stretch forth our hands with our hearts seeking to be uplifted into Their comforting arms and glorious presence. Amen