Home > Uncategorized > Origins of the Praying Hands

Origins of the Praying Hands

The act of one clasping their hands while praying is not at all exclusive to Christianity, in fact, nearly all major religions, including pagans, clasp their hands, in like fashion, while praying to their God(s). In this article we learn to pray as our Father intended.


The Jewish Talmud states that “Raba removed his cloak, clasped his hands and prayed,”, so we know at one time, even the Jewish people may have occasionally prayed with clasped hands; however, the written Torah does not command them to do so. Today, Jewish people do not pray with their hands clasped, in fact, they are unlike the entire world.

As you will see in subsequent sections within this article, nearly every major religion prays with their hands clasped, except for one -the Jewish people. In this article we will explore the pagan origins of the Praying Hands, starting in ancient Sumeria (ca. 888-885 BC) and ending in the Holy Bible where we discover how our Father intended us to pray.

Sumeria (ca. 888-885 BC)

In 8th century BC, the people of Sumeria (i.e. Modern Day Iraq) were worshiping the sun god Shamash. Here in the image below we have a stone relief, discovered in Iraq (ca. 1881 AD), of pagan priests performing religious worship of the sun god, Shamash.


Notice the man clasping his hands. Here we have possibly one of the earliest known records of hand clasping for religious purposes, roughly 800 years before the birth of Christ being used in the pagan worship of elemental deities, such as the sun and moon.

Therefore, if the Jews had ever learned to clasp their hands in prayer, then they are likely to have learned this from the Babylonians while they were in captivity during the time of Daniel, toward the end of the 5th century BC (i.e. 500 years before Christ). They likely stopped folding their hands as a result of Roman persecution in 1st century AD when they noticed that they too also clasped their hands in prayer to their elemental deities.

World Religions

Today, there are literally hundreds of religious groupings, but our focus is on the foundational groups. Browse through the images below to see how Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists pray and notice how all of them clasp their hands, except for one group.

Interestingly, as we drift further away from the major groups of religion into paganism, we find a different kind of hand gesture -one that is all too familiar to the modern Christian, which is the arms out, palms up or out position -apparently a classic pagan stance.

So, our question is, out of all these groups, which one has got it right? Which one of these groups are praying the way the Father, the true creator of this world intended?


In Exodus 4:31, it reads, “and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.” The Jewish bow is one of complete submission, where the hands are out, palms down, and the whole body is folded upon itself. Jacob made this pose to Esau in Genesis 33:3.

Jehu bowing to Assyrian king, Shalmanesar. (2 Kings 17:3)

Jehu bowing to Assyrian king, Shalmanesar. (2 Kings 17:3)

In 2 Chronicles 20:18, we read how all of Israel made this same pose, as we see above, in worship of God, “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord.”

In Matthew 26:39, we read where Jesus made this same pose the night of his arrest, “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

In Philippians 2:9-11, it states, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

In Revelation 5:14, it states, “And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.”


In summation, nowhere in the entire Holy Bible does it ever mention anyone clasping their hands to pray, so where did we get the idea that we as Christians should clasp our hands to pray? The obvious answer is from paganism, so just as Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are all rooted in paganism we find that we have also incorporated paganism into our fellowship with God.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. JE
    February 6, 2018 at 7:00 am

    Thanks for the insight !
    Great job!

  2. Jim
    May 22, 2017 at 4:32 pm


    I found this article quite interesting. The contemporary expression among Christians of traditional persuasion, with the hands clasped together in prayer, like the famous wood carving of Albrecht Durer’s “hands,” or “praying hands,” as it is also known, is based, as far as I understand, on the medieval act of fealty. This is when a vassal of a king or lord places both hands together, kneeling in front of them. The king, or lord, then places their hands over the vassal’s as an acknowledgment of their submission. In a similar way the person praying with clasped hands demonstrates an an “act of fealty” (act of faith) towards God, hoping that God accepts their submission and will in some way cover their own hands, as a medieval king would do, and, as it were, enter into covenant with them, since this is part of the act of fealty also. It is not that much different than the Biblical covenants expressed in the Bible, though some of these, such as circumcision, are less appealing for sure.

    Here endeth my penny’s worth to the discussion. 🙂

    Jim McGregor.

  3. April 27, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Will not celebrate pagan holidays anymore now that knowing the truth….Have to always go back to the FIRST COMMANDMENT!!!!!!!!

  4. Stephen
    September 2, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    I’d like to give another word here. Look guys, know this. Anytime you get confused or afraid of being mislead lean on the bible. The word god has ordained and set apart from all else (holy) has all answers in it. It’s all inclusive. I know some of you must dis agree with that. There was a time when I would have too. But that’s because I did not read the bible. And I mean really read, study, research and question. Now that I have it has truly been……..not even a word to describe it. Perhaps it takes experience along with it. But just know that our father has prepared a place for his word in your hearts. It is not about religious tradition, a best selling book, How great the music is at church, the balls of light you saw in the sky at night, deep thoughts in a meditative trance, the amazing feeling of an experience, FOX or CNN or anything else other than his unchanging and powerful word. One only has to stop for a moment, shut off the outside world and influences for a few days and with no preconception of mans wisdom, dive into his word. All of us are accountable for ourselves regardless. Romans 1:20;For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. There are many other examples in the bible. Men take hold to their own wisdom, perceptions, guesses and fabrications and stake their own claims on an eternal destiny. Listen to no one but Elohim himself. The GREAT DECEPTION is upon us. lead yourself not into Satans claim but set your self upon the reliable word of our living God. This is why he put it there. For our guidance. So let no more excuses befall you saying, ” Why has anyone not given us an instruction book on life.” It is right in front of you. The modern form of christianity is not what it professes. Roman Catholicism was the seed of much toil. Greater yet were so many religions and denominations claiming Christianity as their home. Jesus (Yahushua) warned of these things. It is nothing new. Ever since the beginning of time traditions have been the main cast for leading many astray. These days especially many will claim of there relationship to the great Elohim. Matthew 12:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
    Do not take this lightly. When you debate or argue a point, let it be for truth only. Nothing more. I see a lot of opinion battering going on here. Some of which is shut down with some solid scripture. But before you launch out make certain you know what your talking about rather than simply regurgitating lines from a best seller or your own opinion. Search the scripture and you will find that we have to separate our selves from the ways of the followers of those doctrines of demons. It is strategically put there by Satan to lead you away. This is and always will be his agenda. Peace to you all and soldier on!

  5. April 12, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Your logic allows for cathedrals, church buildings, suits & ties, offering plates–anything not mentioned or prescribed in the Bible–all to be examples of paganism seeping in to the Church. You’ve drawn your circle a bit small…and you’ve deftly neglected all of the examples of praying while standing–the presumption that Jesus makes when he speaks of prayer (Mark 11:20-26; Luke 18:9-14, etc…)

    Even in Scripture, we find that the Jews adopted customs and practices from other cultures…but that does not mean they denied their faith or rejected their faith. There are no synagogues in the Old Testament…but they’re all over the New Testament. And, As Christianity spread from Judea into the Greco-Roman world, I’m sure there were practices they adopted–without rejecting the faith or buying into paganism–that simply came along as folks crossed cultural lines…things like suits and ties, and church buildings, etc….

    While Christmas, Easter and Halloween may have pagan roots (actually, only Christmas and Easter have truly pagan roots), Christianity has simply redeemed those days and made them Christian holy days. I love Christmas and Easter…and I don’t see any real reason to “give them up” just because they started out pagan. I started out pagan, and now I’m redeemed by Christ. Why do so many people want to give up and give back what has been redeemed?

    But, I got way off topic. Prayer–prostrate and kneeling in O.T.; standing in the N.T. And God will be happy any way we pray…. Cheers

    • April 12, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      Hi Jon,

      Here is the issue, let’s take a look at Matthew 6:7:

      But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

      The keyword here is heathen. What is a “heathen” exactly, well according to the Greek manuscripts, it is ethnikos meaning ones-of-the-nations or in other words, ones belonging to the nations, ones like the nations, and so on. The word pagan simply doesn’t exist in the Holy Bible, at least not in the KJV, but where many of the new modern bibles translate the word pagan, behind it we find the Greek transliteration ethnikos, so we call this pagan.

      Therefore, if it is “pagan” to belong to the nations, to be like the nations, and if Matthew condemns/warns us to not be like the nations, then clearly it must be wrong! But, what does Jesus Christ have to say about the world and our love of it (1 John 2:15):

      Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

      So, shall we pray and worship as the heathens/pagans? We think not.

      In the end, it is up to you to worship and pray as you see fit, but it is also up to the one you worship and pray to accept and hear you. Do you really want to take the risk of offending Him? For us, as servants of Jesus Christ; our only hope for salvation, it simply doesn’t seem very wise to take that risk, especially in these last days.


      • April 12, 2016 at 5:57 pm

        Quite right. I was simply using the term you had used in your article.

        Offend God? Ha. I offend Him daily…and you do to. It’s by grace we come before him at all. The posture of our hearts is way more important than the posture of our bodies.

      • Stephen
        September 2, 2016 at 7:38 am

        Jon Herrin…….I have to say, as a one time initiate of Ancient Mystery Religions ,Sorcery-Majik and Occult Practices (ceremonial magician) I should say that over the time of my transformation I have gleamed a lot. I grew up a protestant and later pentecostal. But later through much hardship sought answers outside of christianity. One thing in particular that concerns me is this. The Occult community as a whole, more specifically theosophy and Luciferian-Satanism, has a mission in these last days. And I will tell you first hand, ridding this world of true Christian thought is foremost. Removing Christians from this planet is also on the bucket list. During my time with in the occult community it was very common to send in men or women with in churches around the community (nation wide) and divide, corrupt and subjugate as much as possible. One of the many ways they do this either on a church level or national media level is to disinform and misinform. Anything we do as christians, and I mean anything, we should separate our selves from pagan practices. In Majik and ceremonial practice we were taught through ancient tradition that is rooted prior to babylon to fold our hands with fingers pointed upwards or to put palms on our knees. Why is this? For the direction of power or chi. It unifies the body to stimulate the chakras. Once that is perfected than communion with elemental spirits is more effective (Obviously I do not hold that belief anymore). Where did such a belief come from. Mans own wisdom is preface. But the doctrine of demons is more accurate. Read your bible. And study occult traditions or new age wisdom currently. It’s all the same. In Majik we’d communicate with Ascended masters, who in all practicality are merely demonic entities masquerading as friendly hosts. Do you not know the days of Babylon the great harlot. One which they wish to bring back and are at the present moment. Not only is this biblical but purely reasonable given the circumstances. One, what you do is seen by others. It sent an example. Should no you be a reason to allow others to stumble? Do not take Elohim’s grace for granted. Is your intention to offend him daily? I think not. So why should your words advocate such? IT is true the posture of your heart is important. But where is scripture to back up your claim? Not the wisdom of men I presume. Jon perhaps your intentions are not one of deceit. But you must know the truth. Pray about it please! Consider your self warned and instructed. Peace brother!

    • Archie Moore
      November 15, 2016 at 11:51 pm

      Are you saying that the witches, goblins, vampires, etc., obviously among the hallmarks of the rituals, is not pagan in origin?

  6. Nd1992
    February 21, 2016 at 4:36 am


    Interesting article however to say that all faiths pray with hands together except modern Jews isn’t correct- research how Muslims pray and you won’t find anything about putting hands together, I’m not sure if this picture was the first to come across when searching for pictures of Muslims praying.. But thanks for the article 🙂

    • February 21, 2016 at 9:34 am

      Hi Nd1992,

      Muslim prayer is very hand-centric. A quick search for “Muslims praying clasped hands” shows us many types of Muslim prayer styles. We have the common pagan hands up and to the side of the head, like we see in the Sumerian picture above. We have the hands cupped in front of the body, most times holding prayer beads which is extremely pagan and no different than the Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Catholic, Bahá’í (New Age) and more. And, finally we have hands clasped as we showed in the images above, although the primary pose is the cupping of hands.

      Nevertheless, none of these poses are the correct pose to be in while praying according to the Old and New Testament (i.e. Holy Bible).


  7. Diane Yaghoobian
    October 28, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    In Jesus’ story of the Pharisee and sinner praying, He showed the humility of the sinner by saying that he did not even lift up his head to heaven. So much for bowing your head as representing humility. It is recorded in the apocryphal gospel of Thomas that the early church prayed with their arms outstretched (imitating crucifixion), which makes some sense. The bottom line is that positions don’t matter and claiming something is pagan, Satanic, Sumerian, Jewish or Christian only impresses us; God says we look on the outer man, He looks on the heart.

    • October 29, 2015 at 7:07 pm

      Hi Diane,

      If you are referring to Luke 18:13, then you clearly have not read the next verse, here it is in context:

      13″But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14″I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

      Therefore, the fact that the man would NOT lift his eyes to heaven made him more justified!

      Arms outstretched is pagan, hands clasped is pagan; there is no way around it. If you want to pray like Jesus, then you will do so on your hands and knees with your face pointed to the ground with a sense of contrition. Don’t be fooled to think that you are not judged by your WORKS, because you most certainly will be, see Revelation 20:12:

      And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

      Quite possibly another part of the Holy Bible that you disagree with, yet there it is staring right at you, telling you that you’ve been wrong this entire time. Shouldn’t we point this out, the stumbling blocks? Apparently no one sees them, so we are helping you to see.

      We say, cast away the world, go to Christ and do it properly.


  8. Shalom
    August 10, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Great article,though not completely accurate. Lifting the hands is for praise and bowing is for worship.

    Nehemiah 8:6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

    Psalms 63:4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

    Psalms 134:2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.

    Luke 24:50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.

    1 Timothy 2:7-8 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
    I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

    • August 10, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      Hi Shalom,

      Great article,though not completely accurate. Lifting the hands is for praise and bowing is for worship.

      This article is about praying which is the vehicle for both worship and praising. The point of the article is to inform our audience that the clasping of hands is non-biblical and in fact has its origins in paganism, which we don’t feel anyone is debating; however it is interesting to see how some have struggled with the information.

      On a side note, we’d like to turn your attention back to the Sumerian image where we see a man clasping his hands. Notice also the man behind him with hands raised in the same manner as the pagans in the images below it. Does this not concern you also? Does it not make you question if you are indeed praising as the pagans do? And, how do you plan to justify it?


  9. April 30, 2015 at 3:39 am

    Insightful article on habits and traditions we blindly assume are from the Bible.
    I’m aware of Christmas and Easter having its origin in paganism, but can’t let go celebrating Christmas yet.

    • April 30, 2015 at 5:09 am

      Hi Tirzah,

      Thanks for the comment. Indeed, it is difficult to dislike Christmas.


  10. August 14, 2014 at 12:41 am
    Hi Readers,

    This video demonstrates the proper way to position one’s body while praying to God. As you can see, this is an expression of contrition for the sins we have committed against both God and ourselves.

    Watch Video: http://www.tubechop.com/watch/3446752

    However, the technique is not exactly correct and the setting is all wrong. One should pray in secret, not in a group setting, nor should one rest upon their forearms. The correct position is with palms down with the entire body folded upon itself, which makes for quite an uncomfortable position to be in. A lot less is said, for one’s body will fatigue quite rapidly in this position, thus prayer becomes a thing of endurance and discipline.

    Furthermore, prayer is not meditation or an exploration of subconsciousness, leave that nonsense alone. Servants of the one true God, Jehovah or Jesus Christ (the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) are to pray with conviction whilst remaining fully conscious and aware of where you are and what you are doing -being sober, as they say.


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