The Hands of Prayer

The Hands of Prayer

Scripture: Psalm 63
“I will lift up my hands and call on your name.”

The Hands of Prayer

How do you use your body in prayer? Life in Turkey provides many answers.

The dominant Muslim practice incorporates various postures for the ritual of prayer: standing, bowing, and prostrating. The several Christian groups use their hands and arms.

But whatever your religious background in Turkey, there is a posture for prayer recognized by all: arms bent to front at the elbows, with palms facing upward. This is the iconic stance of petitioning, praising, or thanking God. It’s as though the hands are held out to receive God’s blessing. It’s a Biblical posture. You’ll find it not only in the Psalms but also in the early Christian church (1 Timothy 2:8).

This prayer position is as recognizable to everyone in Turkey as Albrecht Durer’s image ‘Praying Hands’ is iconic among European Christians.

Muslims in Turkey normally conclude the prayer by moving the open palms up to cover the face and then drawing them straight down, as if washing the face with the prayer. In Syrian Orthodox worship people often exit the praying stance by touching the fingertips of both hands to their lips and forehead. So if a prayer has been said, or a scripture passage read, this “Amen” movement of the hands seals the words into your mouth and mind.


O God we lift up our hands to you, the author of our lives. We spread our hands toward heaven to plead for your mercy. We hold out our arms in need of your support. All good things that you have granted we gratefully clasp within our bodies, minds, and souls. Amen.