Summary: God wants us to have clean hands, and just like Mama used to inspect our hands before dinner, let us lift our hands for God to inspect while we pray.
Lifting Holy Hands
1TI 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle--I am telling the truth, I am not lying--and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.
1TI 2:8 I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.
What Paul wants young Timothy is that the church needs to be a praying place. Prayer is a strategic element of the life of the church. A church that does not pray is a social group, it is cut off from the one for whom the Church exists. Lifting up holy hands is a sign of praise, in the OT people lifted up their hands. It was a sign of purity and devotion. Much like we teach our children to fold their hands when we pray, or the joining of hands. The position of the hands was symbolic of purity. Psalm 24:3-4 says:
PS 24:3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
PS 24:4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.
The position of the hands is symbolic of the position of the heart. So why is it we do not lift hands in prayer? Some will say because of a certain group of people that do that on a regular basis and since we do not agree with them doctrinally we don’t want to be like them, we don’t do that here. Well, we know certain groups that evangelize going door to door, so do we stop evangelizing? NO! Lifting up holy hands is symbolic of the pure heart and worship during prayer.
The first priority of the church: is that it is a place of prayer. When Jesus confronted the moneychangers, he said; “My house is a house of prayer.” Any place dedicated to the Lord is a place of prayer. This building we call a “church” is a dedicated place. It is dedicated to the Lord, therefore it should be a place of prayer. It is not the only place we can go to pray, but it should be identified as a place of prayer. When Paul writes his first letter to Timothy he lists priorities of the church, and at the top of that list is PRAYER.
1TI 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior
Paul wants Timothy and us to know that Prayer should be first and foremost in the life of the Christian and the Church. Prayer should be for everyone. Such a request brings God down into the lives of people everywhere and in an active role in the lives of His people. The prominent metaphor about prayer is that it is a conversation. In a conversational manner we should talk to God about everyone. Not just for the church but for the nation. One of the characteristics of the early church, why they enjoyed the favor of God and man is that they were a praying church. Acts 2:42ff says;
AC 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Do you think it is coincidence that they enjoyed the favor of all around them, and that they were a praying group? NO! the reason they enjoyed the favor of God and of men is because they were a praying group. Not just for the church, but for the people around them. The people were praying daily, and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Daily they prayed, had fellowship, and enjoyed the Apostle’s teaching, witnessing, sharing and caring. That is why the church grew.
Whenever a decision needed to be made, the church prayed. When deciding who would take the place of Judas, first they prayed. When Peter was in prison, the church prayed. They went to the Temple during the time of prayer, to pray and teach. Their prayer had engaged God in their conversation. They made known their need with thanksgiving. Paul tells us in Phil 4:4