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Let’s read 1 Timothy 2:8 – “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”  First of all, we see from this verse that the Lord desires our prayers.  He longs to hear from His children.  His desire is that we realize our dependence on Him and commit all our needs to him as we read in 1 Peter 5:7 – “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”  We also see that we can pray anywhere and everywhere.  We don’t have to be in a special place to talk to the Lord.  The one who “neither slumbers nor sleeps”, according to Psalm 121:4, will always hear us no matter where we are.

There are many types of prayer, such as worship, praise, confession of sins, asking the Lord for our needs.  The list goes on.  The phrase you asked about is next in this verse.  What does is mean by “lifting up holy hands?”  Does this mean the Lord wants us to literally hold up our hands when we pray?

We read of this custom in the Old Testament.  Let’s look at a couple of them.  Genesis 14:22 says, “And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth.”  We also read in 1 Kings 8:22 – “And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven.”  Concerning many of the events and customs of the Jewish people in the Old Testament, we read in 1 Corinthians 10:11 – “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”  What example do we learn from reading that people would raise their hands when praying?  The uplifted, outstretched hands indicated dependence, even as a young child would raise his hands to receive something from his parents.  When we commit our cares to the Lord, we, in effect, are raising our hands in dependence upon Him.  Perhaps more important than the raising of the hands, we need to realize the importance of the ‘holy hands’.  What does that mean?

To have holy hands is to have hands that are not defiled with sin. We can contrast this to what the Lord said to the Israelites in Isaiah 1:15 – “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”   Psalms 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”  This shows us that if we, as believers on the Lord Jesus, are living in sin, this will greatly hinder the effectiveness of our prayer life.  How can we ask the Lord to take care of our needs when we are living lives that dishonor Him?  He wants us to depend on Him and live our lives to honor Him.  Even as the Lord Jesus said to the woman that was caught in adultery, “…go, and sin no more” in John 8:11.  In the event that we do sin, it is so important that we confess our sins, as we read in 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

In addition to lifting up holy hands, we are also told that our prayers should be without wrath and doubting.  We know from James 1:20 that, “…the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”  We can’t expect the Lord to answers our prayers when we have refused to forgive others, and we come to Him with anger towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.  While we should not come before the Lord with wrath, neither should we come before Him in doubt.  James 1:6-7 says, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”  Oftentimes I’m not sure how the Lord will answer my prayers, but I am sure that He will hear me, and that He will answer according to His perfect timing and response.  Of that, we should not doubt at all.  (5.4)