The other day, I began wondering why Christians pray with their hands folded. Praying is such an important part of the Christian life, I wanted to learn more about praying with folded hands.
Why do Christians put their hands together when they pray? Christians put their hands together when they pray not because they have to, but as a way to focus on God, surrender to him, and submit to his will. It is a reminder that we are not in control, but God is, and a way to rest in his work, not our own.
Praying with folded hands has been around for ages, going all the way back to the Old Testament in the Bible, and there are even different ways that Christians hold their hands when they pray.
Different Ways To Hold Your Hands In Prayer
First, let’s deeper into Christians folding their hands when they pray.
Folding Your Hands
I remember once when I was a kid, I asked in Sunday School why we had to fold our hands and close our eyes when we pray. My leader said it was so that we could focus on God, and not be distracted by anything else.
There’s some wisdom in that, especially since folding our hands forces us to stop what we’re doing.
By doing this, we remember that it is God who is doing all the work, not us. It is God who is in control, not us.
We may not think about this whenever we pray like this, but it still signals to our brain and body that we’re going to stay still in order to hear what God has to say.
Praying with folded hands is also a sign of respect. As a kid at the dinner table, I was always anxious to get the prayer over with so that I could eat my meal. Praying with your hands folded shows God you want to thank Him before you eat.
As Christians, we want to want God more than we want food, and we want to honor him before we indulge ourselves, that’s why folding our hands to pray can be a way to respect and treasure who God is.
Opening Your Hands
One thing that our physical posture does, is it expresses what our spiritual posture is. When our shoulders are tense, and our fists closed tightly, people could guess that we’re anxious or worried. On the other hand (no pun intended), when we open our hands, we are displaying a heart posture of surrender and trust in God.
Whether it’s during worship, or our own personal time in prayer, opening our hands could be a great way to approach our Father and cast all our anxieties on him.
Christians open their hands in prayer because ultimately, whatever huge things are going on in their life, they recognize God is bigger and completely worthy of it all.
He gives and takes away, and when we as Christians open our hands to him, we get to receive what he has for us and rest knowing that what he has for us is for our good and his glory.
Laying On Of Hands
Over and over again in Acts, we see the apostles and disciples lay their hands on people as they pray boldly for healing or for God’s will to be done in them. People even laid hands on believers for the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”Acts 9:17
Though there’s nothing inherently powerful about laying hands on someone while praying, in fact, it’s God’s healing power that does the work, this action is still important.
When believers are praying for someone and lay their hand on someone’s shoulder, for instance, there’s a sense of closeness, togetherness, agreement. From physical touch, people are comforted and know that others care for them, even if it’s through a simple prayer.
Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.Mark 8:25
This is why even Jesus was so personal with the people he was with. He healed a blind man by touching his eyes, and physically healed others by going up to them and touching them.
Jesus could’ve healed them all in an instant, but he chose to be friendly and personal, showing he cared, and as we pray with our hands, we can be intentional in this area too.
What The Bible Says About Hands In Prayer
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;1 Timothy 2:8
Since holding or folding our hands before God is a sign of worship, God desires that we lift pure hands up to him without anger in our hearts.
An example of this practice is from the book Love Does by Bob Goff. As a lawyer, Bob holds his hands with his palms facing up during a case as a reminder that God is in control and that he doesn’t have to get overly angry.
God knew that our physical attitude affects our spiritual attitude, which is why when we unclench our fists or lift up our palms for a time, we feel more peaceful and get to a place where we can cast all our anxieties on him in prayer because He cares for us.
Through reading certain scriptures about prayer, it may be easy to think that we have to fold our hands every time we pray to be effective, but it’s important to know that this isn’t true.
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
From 1 Thessalonians, we know that we are called to rejoice, pray, and give thanks to God all the time in our daily lives. Of course, we don’t have to go about our day with our hands folded 100% of the time, but we still get the gift of praying and praising God, no matter what’s going on.
Folding Your Hands In Prayer Matters
Though it is never necessary or required in the Christian faith to fold or hand your hands in a certain way, it is still a great practice that Christians utilize to submit and surrender to God.
Even the laying on of hands is a biblical principle and a personal way to encourage believers and invite the Holy Spirit into the person’s life.
Whether we choose to pray with our hands folded, lifted up, or not with our hands at all while we go about our day, we get to be focused on glorifying God in all the little things we do. God is worthy of our respect and attention, so honoring him with the way we posture our hearts and hands can be a beautiful way to worship him.