Where does putting your hands together to pray come from?
The present custom of closing the eyes while putting the hands together is of disputed origin. Though unrecorded in Scripture and unknown to the early church, the custom is a good one. It helps the worshipper to shut out harmful distractions and to enter the sphere where none but God is near. It is better than some body postures that prevail among modern Christians when prayer is being offered.
There are many prayer postures found in the Bible: standing with outstretched hands (1 Kings 8:22); kneeling (Dan. 6:10); standing (Luke 18:11); sitting (2 Sam. 7:18); bowing the head (Gen. 24:26); lifting the eyes (John 17:1); falling on the ground (Gen. 17:3). The important thing is not the posture of the body but the posture of the heart.
So What is the origin of praying hands put together?
Some people believed that when the christians were prosecuted by the romans in the early days of christianity they implored God to be merciful and sorry for the Romans and for themselves. There was no other way to do that if not by holding their hands together as they were handcuffed as prisoners.
Others believed that during Jesus Christ’s time in Egypt, he was in contact with the community of Buddhist monks living in Alexandria. Buddhists put their hands together (palm to palm) to pray, and Christ learned the habit there.
But Religious historians has now traced the origin of the gesture back to the act of shackling a prisoner’s hands with vine or rope: joined hands came to symbolize submission. In ancient Rome, a captured soldier could avoid immediate death by joining the hands together. Just as waving a white flag today, the message was clear, ‘I surrender.’
Centuries later, subjects demonstrated their loyalty and paid homage to their rulers by joining their hands. In time, clasping the hands together communicated both an acknowledgement of another’s authority and one’s own submission to that authority.
Christianity adopted the gesture representing shackled hands as a sign of man's total obedience to divine power.
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