The scriptures teach that the believers can clap and shout for joy in worship services. David the prophet says, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy” (Psalms 47:1). And the Bible also teaches that believers should lift up their hands in prayer. Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:8, writes, “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.” The lifting of hands is an appropriate form for prayer and worship. Thus, we can see that both expressions can be included in worship services.
The Lord also instructs that the believers can raise not just their hands but also their voices in song and praise to God. In the OT, we read that God’s children used “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). And in the NT, Paul also instructs that the believers should “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).
Concerning worship, Paul teaches that “everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” in the church (1 Corinthians 14:40). “Everything” would certainly include the clapping and raising of hands in worship. Anything during worship that takes away from the holiness of the church gathering should be avoided. Therefore, “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Finally, it should be remembered that the emphasis of worship should be on the spirit rather than the physical forms of it. For “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). As an infinite spirit being, God is infinite, and consequently is not so much concerned with visible forms of worship as He is with the spirit in which men worship Him (v. 22).
In His service,
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