I suppose we are all products of our culture and upbringing, and I am no exception. One of the results of this is that when I see someone raising one hand whilst I am preaching I am inclined to think they are wanting to ask a question or indicating that they wish to leave the room!
How wrong can you be? Yesterday I was preaching to a group of staff and students from over 20 different nationalities, in a chapel which was set up for worship in a cafe style with people seated round tables. Part way through the sermon somebody right in my eye line raised one hand and kept it there for several minutes. Momentarily confused about what to do, I decided to carry on regardless.
It turns out it’s just as well that I did. Later on, the owner of the hand came up to speak to me. Apparently she felt so convinced that God was at work during the preaching that this dear soul raised her hand in prayer to ask that God should pour out further anointing on the preacher. I felt humbled, honoured and mightily relieved that I hadn’t made some culturally foolish response to the raised hand.
Watch out for hand signals, preachers – and thank God for listeners who participate in the preaching just as much as the speaker.