There's a worship song that features the line "with my hands lifted high" and, every time the congregation sings it, hands raise on cue. Pavlov would be proud. There's a part of me that feels rebellious not lifting my hands while my lips sing out. And, in this wrestling, I'm learning to worship.
Two lessons come to mind:
First, there is value in hand-raising. Actually, there's a value in any body-movement in worship. One Jewish writer reflected that the "body should pray as well as the mind." For this reason, Jewish worshippers often rock back and forth, rhythmically engaging more of themselves in the act of seeking God. Likewise, when the Christian raises his hands, or claps, or stomps her feet or dances or kneels, they make an intentional effort to engage all of themselves in worship.
Hand-raising was a common expression of worship in the Bible:
Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.--Psalm 28:2
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.--Psalm 63:4
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!--Psalm 141:2
Now as Solomon finished offering all this prayer and plea to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had knelt with hands outstretched toward heaven.--1 Kings 8:54
“Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.”--Lamentations 2:19
In each instance, the person lifting their hands into the air communicates one or more of several spiritual virtues: humility [raised hands are a sign of surrender]; trust [willing and eager to receive from the Lord]; openness [vulnerability before God]; and affection [expressing a "reaching" or longing for God]. Each of these virtues gives me a good reason to raise my hands, whether or not the songs says I should or not.
The second lesson I'm learning is that my heart/will takes a while to catch up with my mind. Sometimes, the best act of worship is to do what I know is good, though my will is not sure it wants to go the distance. To say it differently, if I wait for my heart to catch up to what I know is true, I may miss out. But, if I "just do it"--knowing the value, though not fully embracing it yet--my heart will often follow suit. This is true, not only of worship, but of many things in the spiritual life.
This is how church works.