Thoughts on prayer in the Bible
To the best of my knowledge and limited research, the bible says nothing about how to place your hands when you pray. The bible tells us to pray without ceasing, to pray to God and to listen when God answers our prayers. There are many people in the bible who offer prayers, and many more who misunderstand the power of prayer. Jesus heals people, cares for people, and teaches us the Lord’s Prayer. All of this helps us to understand some of the importance of prayer, but none really helps us to understand how we should place our body, or more specifically our hands when we offer a prayer to God. There are people who say you need to raise them up to God, or that everyone knows you put them palms together, fingers out… but why? I have come up with several suggestions, and like many questions with religion, there is not just one answer, I hope one of these helps, or at least leads you into the right direction of the answer you seek.
Hands together forms a circle of prayer
The closing of the hands creates a circle, it allows us to become one unit, able to feel the power of Jesus in our lives and in our prayer. One of the uses I see with creating a circle is when you pray for another person or with a group of people. When everyone joins hands they create a community, a unit of one that shows how many people while different can be united in an action for God. We can all come together and show that we are one in the Spirit, accepting God and showing that unity by joining our palms with another person. When I pray for someone who is sick or upset, I hold their hands. This creates a smaller circle, but it helps both people feel the presence of another. The knowledge of knowing we are not alone in times of sickness and pain is a great comfort for some. I think that same thought can be brought into when we pray by ourselves. It allows us to feel the presence of someone else, that when our own palms are together we can know that we are not alone in our prayer, that we are being listened to and our concerns with truly be heard in a loving manner.
It helps us be at peace, if only for a moment
It helps to focus our thoughts. Too many times I wonder what I am supposed to do with my hands when I offer prayers to people. When I put my hands together to pray it is one less concern while I am thinking about what to pray about. I am easily distracted by nature, so to have something I can silence helps focus me from some of the other thoughts I cannot silence as easily. It offers me the option of quieting a part of my body and allowing me to be more at peace. In our busy world, finding a moment of peace is a wonderful gift. Also being the father of a five year old son, it allows me the knowledge that he is going to have his hands in one place for at least a little while. It helps with children to keep them from hitting each other, poking their sister or generally being disrespectful during the time of prayer. It helps children understand there is more to praying than just saying words; the body is involved as well. My son knows to put his hands together and put his head on his hands, which allows him to pray focused. We all need a little reminder to simply quiet ourselves during time spent talking with God.
One answer is simply tradition! My grandmother always folded her hands so I do too. There are many times we don’t really understand the reason why we do something because it is so ingrained in who we are and how we were brought up. By bringing our hands together in prayer we are connecting with those we love, those who went before us and taught us so much. The simple action helps us to remember all the good of the person, all the stories and lessons they have given us, opening us up to more thoughtful and reflective prayer. While not understanding why we put our hands together, understanding that others before us have always done it this way may be enough to help us in our own time of need or prayer.
Signs of forgiveness and submission
Having the hands together is also a sign of asking for forgiveness. Allowing us to be in the right posture to pray to God for forgiveness and mercy, for hope and peace. Some cultures also consider it a sign of submission and respect. We take the time and action to show God we are respectful to all God has done for us. We also submit to the life God has called us to live, to show others mercy and love, to be kind and not repay hurt with hurt. Putting our hands together allows us to understand the power of God’s grace and involvement in our own lives. We offer ourselves in submission, accepting the life God has given us to live out, in happiness and challenge, in joy and struggle, every aspect of our life helping us to become a better person in the eyes of God.
Pray, just... Pray
However people pray, it is a chance to be closer to God. I was asked why we put our hands together and realized I did not have an answer right then. After some thought and surfing on the web I realized no one had a great answer. While I admit I still don’t have the perfect answer, I can offer this… as long as you pray with the full knowledge that God hears you and loves you, you are doing it perfectly. If you place your hands in the air, on your heart, hold someone else’s, or simply offer your hands in offering to God, allow God to work in and through you. Take time to pray every day, it is time well spent with the Lord.
- Praying shouldn't be hard.
There are some people who can say the most eloquent, flowery prayers that seem to express everything the situation needs. Some people feel that if they pray long enough or say the same thing enough times...
Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on May 03, 2020:
Great article. I truly enjoyed your work. I was thinking about the subtle power of symbols as they have crept into Christianity as other religions: by forming a circle by closing our hands, we are indicating we recognize, worship, and respect He is Alpha and Omega. Only a circle truly can represent that - God is the beginning and end of all knowledge and the source of life and light in our existence. I agree, prayers needn't be particularly "flowery," just sincere and honest in respect to Our God. everyone doesn't the way anyone else does because God gave us all unique abilities and skills. Raising the hands or holding hands are definitely traditional ways to pray. Thanks for your enlightening and uplifting work.
Walt Moreno on February 20, 2020:
I've searched high and low for a satisfying answer to this question but unfortunately haven't found it online. All I get is unsatisfying history and no mystery. So I'm going to take a shot at providing a satisfying answer. By holding one's hands together one is best able to feel the tingling sensation of blood in the hands and fingertips. That's the key. To increase and cultivate this sensation so that the hands can be warmed through the power of the mind alone. There are meditations that are structured entirely around focusing only on this sensation and alternating attention between that blood-in-the-hand tingling sensation and the middle of the forehead where the pituitary gland is located although practitioners (notably FHU) teach students to focus on the tingling in one hand as it's hanging by one's side. Not joined together as in prayer. It's the only non-hypnotic meditation of which I'm aware as its success depends entirely on physiological bodily responses within the body over which you have little control. Except with practice. Do it correctly and your hands will get warm. Do it incorrectly and they'll be cold. And some monks who practice this warming the body through the power of the mind alone are reputed to possess almost miraculous powers. Except as we get older it's much easier to feel this blood tingling sensation by joining the hands together. Jesus taught us to pray by giving us the Lord's prayer, "Our Father who art in heaven, gimme, gimme, gimme..." Oops that's not right. Rather it continues, "...Thy will be done...". And by focusing (or meditating) on that tingling sensation of the blood in joined hands we are best able to know and discern what His will is. I've heard somewhere that ancient Jews were aware of this and joined the hand which represent the furthermost extension of the body (and works) with the mind or the forehead together with a leather thong to facilitate his practice.
Rev. Akins (author) from Tucson, AZ on October 11, 2013:
I appreciate the thoughts pq, there are several passages in both the Old Testament and the New Testament to help us understand the power of praying. This Hub was mainly about why some people use their hands to help them pray.
pq on October 10, 2013:
there no bible verse,
Rev. Akins (author) from Tucson, AZ on September 14, 2012:
Exactly ElleBee! I think we communicate just as much with how we do something as what we say. Thanks for the comment, I appreciate the kind words and thoughts. :)
ElleBee on September 13, 2012:
Interesting. It is always interesting to me the connection between our body language and our prayer. Sometimes taking on a "prayerful stance" (however exactly we define that) can really help us enter into that moment of peace which you mentioned.
Rev. Akins (author) from Tucson, AZ on July 11, 2012:
janddplus4- Wow! That is interesting! I am going to have to try and find a chance to watch for this. I am a minister of a Presbyterian church and we don't raise hands much, although I have several opportunities to participate in different denominations. I am definitely going to watch for this from now on! Thanks again!
janddplus4 on July 10, 2012:
You can tell by the positioning of a person's hands while upraised during prayer whether they are praising or petitioning. It's not something we are taught, it just comes naturally....at least to those who lift their hands at all! If their hands are facing outward, it's praise. If their hands are facing inward, they are asking for something. I'm not one to uplift hands at all, I'm too introverted and reserved. But this is something that was pointed out to me once, and I have observed it in others. Next time you pray with your hands uplifted, take notice of the position of your hands and test it out!
Rev. Akins (author) from Tucson, AZ on May 02, 2012:
Thanks for the insight Vegas Elias! I didn't think about the fact that too often we do not just sit and be with God. I have started using Celtic Prayers from Iona- it is six sets of prayers, but this primer helps me quiet all the other things in my life and actually be in an attitude of prayer. Thanks for the comment, and I look forward to other discussions throughout Hubpages!
Vegas Elias from Mumbai on April 30, 2012:
I too feel joining hands while praying has come from Oriental traditions. The Bible does not say anything about hands or any posture during prayer.
When Jesus was asked as to how one should pray He answered saying we should enter the closet, close the doors and windows and pray to Our Father in secret; And our Father will listen to our prayers.
There is symbolism here. The closet is our body. Doors and window are our mouth, ears and eyes. Jesus is asking us to close our mouth, ears and eyes and pray silently to God within our heart. One more important thing which Jesus discloses to us is that we can find God within ourselves as soon as we close the doors and windows of our body and look for Him within us.
I had been born a Roman Catholic but I am no more one. I do believe in Christ and try to figure our for myself what He taught by reading The Holy Bible whenever I can.
Rev. Akins (author) from Tucson, AZ on January 19, 2012:
MsDora- thanks for the comment! I am trying to write more hubs of this nature, to help people be closer to God in whatever way they can.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 19, 2012:
I agree: "Pray, just pray." In the most meaningful communion with God we are not even aware of our bodies. Thanks for your honest opinion.
Rev. Akins (author) from Tucson, AZ on April 23, 2011:
That is a great way to look at prayer. The more comfortable we are with doing something the more regularly we will engage in the activity. Thank you very much for the comment.
onegoodwoman from A small southern town on April 22, 2011:
.........just talk to God, as you would your father.....I treat My Dad with great respect, yet, I am
comfortable in his presence and in his home.
Rev. Akins (author) from Tucson, AZ on April 19, 2011:
LL - I agree. I think tradition is a great way to learn, and being able to quiet oneself and simply listen to your prayer and God's answer is a great spiritual practice. I hope your prayer life is rewarding, and thanks for the comment.
L.L. Woodard from Oklahoma City on April 15, 2011:
I fold my hands and close my eyes both from tradition and for the need to focus and be still. Prayer is a type of meditation--at least for me--and these actions help me to achieve the right frame of mind.
Rev. Akins (author) from Tucson, AZ on March 23, 2011:
Thank you so much for the comment. I agree that when we pray we can feel closer to God, and become more humble when we realize how powerful God is and yet still loves each of us as an individual.
Sucharitha on March 23, 2011:
I feel by holding hands togeather in Prayer we are also submissive to God and we pray asking God to keep us Humble...I really enjoyed reading this..
Rev. Akins (author) from Tucson, AZ on March 22, 2011:
That is a good point, I am still working on the importance of different parts of the body during prayer. Thanks for the thought, I will see what I can figure out.
suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on March 22, 2011:
Interesting Hub. I don't think I ever put my hands together when I pray. I don't know why. Enjoyable read - thanks.