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And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. Luke 13:13, ESV

Mudra means “seal ”, “closure”, or “gesture” in Sanskrit. We use these gestures mostly in meditation or in pranayama practice to direct the flow of energy within the body by using the hands. If you or your students feel uncomfortable with this term, you can simply refer to them as hand positions or postures of prayer. We will also explore the hand positions found throughout biblical scripture.


The universe is made of five elements, and each of the five fingers is represented by one of these elements:

  • THUMB: represents fire, also universal consciousness
  • INDEX FINGER: represents air, also individual consciousness
  • MIDDLE FINGER: represents ether, space, stillness, that which contains and holds; the element that connects us to spirit, intuition, other realms and planes.
  • RING FINGER: represents earth
  • LITTLE FINGER: represents water


When these five elements are not in balance – when our bodies, souls and spirits are not in balance, we certainly will experience dis-ease within. How intrinsically connected we are with all the rest of God’s creation…. we are so fearfully and wonderfully made!


As we place our hands in yoga mudras, we stimulate different areas of the brain and create a specific energy circuit in the body. By doing this, along with meditation and/or breathwork, we can actually help generate a specific state of mind – particularly one towards healing, rejuvenation, and wholeness.

Although there are hundreds of mudras within various cultural and spiritual practices, we will take a closer look at some of the most common (image credits: Omsica/Mind Valley and leben-ohne-limit).

1. Gyana Mudra       

This is perhaps the most used mudra in yoga and is also known as the chin mudra. To do this, bring the tips of the thumb and index finger together, and keep the other three fingers together, lightly stretched. This symbolizes the unity of fire and air as well as the unity of universal and individual consciousness.


The Gyana mudra increases concentration, creativity, and is a gesture of knowledge. Keep your palms facing upwards when feeling receptive or rest your palm on your leg when you wish to feel more grounded.


2. Shuni Mudra

Bring the tip of the middle finger and thumb together, uniting the elements of fire and connection. This mudra symbolizes patience and discipline and helps us generate a feeling of stability. Use this mudra when you feel you need additional strength to follow through with tasks.



3. Surya Ravi Mudra

Unite the tip of the ring finger and the thumb, and you bring together the elements of fire and earth. This mudra represents energy and health, and it provides us with a feeling of balance. It can also help with bringing positive changes into our lives.


4. Buddhi Mudra

By touching the tips of the little finger and thumb together, you are enhancing intuitive communication. The elements of fire and water are brought together, and this symbolizes communication and openness. It can also help strengthen your intuitive knowledge.


5. Prana Mudra

The Prana mudra activates the dormant energy within the body. To do this, place the tips of your thumb, ring finger, and little finger together. This mudra symbolizes the vital energy of prana, and will encourage the flow of this energy, making you feel energized and strong.




6. Dhyana Mudra

This mudra provides calming energy for meditation and is used for deep contemplation and reflection. To do this, place your hands on your lap, left palm under, palms facing up, and the tips of the thumbs touching.



7. Anjali Mudra

Bringing the palms together in front of the heart space symbolizes honor and respect toward yourself and toward the universe. This mudra expresses love and gratitude. With this mudra, we sometimes use the phrase “palms at prayer of the heart” or “hands to heart center”.





8. Trinity Mudra   

The Trinity Mudra came directly from a Holy Spirit download during Michelle Thielen’s Sozo and Somatics Teacher Training. When one is attempting to connect with God, often the triune relationship isn’t thought of as a whole. God is made up of 3 parts (and we are made in this image mind, body, and spirit), Himself, His Son and His Holy Spirit. The Trinity Mudra can help one focus on each part of the Trinity and dive deep into communion with each part. 

When practicing the individual mudra for each part, or all 3 at once communing with the entire Trinity, students have found a profound intimacy with Christ as well as ‘taming the monkey mind.’



  1. Father God: Thumb and Center Finger

{Body} Ask Him if there is anything blocking this relationship and if there is anything He’s like to speak to you.

2. Jesus Christ: Thumb and Index Finger 

{Soul} Ask Him if there is anything blocking this relationship and if there is anything He’s like to speak to you.

3. Holy Spirit: Thumb and Ring Finger 

{Spirit} Ask Him if there is anything blocking this relationship and if there is anything He’s like to speak to you.

Connect to the Trinity and Practice all 3:  

Triplicate Unity (Plato)

  1. Soul: (Psyche) 
  2. Spirit 
  3. Mind 

Plato also identifies Soma as Embodied Conscious Awareness including: 

  1. Body perceived by self 
  2. The experience of the body, self and others 
  3. The body as nature in lived experience 


  • Try with palms only, or with other mudras:
    • Inhale, lifting, upward motion = receiving
    • Exhale, pushing, downward motion = releasing
  • While using Anjali Mudra, share a triune doxology (formula of praise) or benediction (bestowing of blessing):
    • Hands to forehead = “Peace in our thoughts” or “May our thoughts remain pure”
    • Hands to lips = “Peace in our words” or “May our words remain kind and gentle”
    • Hands to heart = “Peace in our hearts” or May our hearts remain soft and open”
  • The traditional hand gesture of making the sign of the cross can be considered a mudra of it’s own giving acknowledgement, glory and praise to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • What mudra(s) might you create to use as healing energy channels in a therapeutic setting?


Lifting hands to the Lord in the Bible expresses two distinct ideas: supplication and blessing.

Hear the voice of my supplication as I cry to thee for help, as I lift up my hands toward thy most holy sanctuary. Psalm 28:2; 134:2






Mudra Musings



Image: Orante with hands lifted in prayer from the Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome.

Lifting Hands in Worship 

 Orante figure from the Catacomb of Priscilla, Cubicle of the Velata, Rome (second half of the third century). This pose of arms lifted in prayer is found in thousands of figures in the catacombs, representing a soul at peace in paradise.


To classic Pentecostals lifting the hands in praise and prayer is second nature, flowing from a tradition decades old. But to the new convert or non-Pentecostal just entering the charismatic movement, the custom may be new and awkward. Most traditional Protestants have only seen the minister lift his hands to give the benediction or blessing upon the people. Questions follow: Why lift hands to worship and pray? What does this practice mean? As we explore the twenty-eight verses in the Bible on this subject, we will find answers to these questions.

Lifting hands to the Lord in the Bible expresses two distinct ideas: supplication and blessing.



Lifting Hands in Supplication


A gesture common to many cultures is stretching forth the hands to implore another person to help, to give something, or to come. An example is found in Isaiah 65:1-2: “I said , ‘Here am I, here am I,’ to a nation that did not call on my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people” (cf. Proverbs 1:24; Job 30:24; Jeremiah 4:31; Lamentations 1:17).


In a similar way, hands are extended for prayer in the direction of God’s dwelling. Dedicating the temple, Solomon “stood before the altar of the Lord … and spread forth his hands toward heaven ….” (1 Kings 8:22; cf. vs. 54; 2 Chronicles 6:12, 13). He also asks God to honor prayers made toward the temple: “… Whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by any man or by all thy people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house … hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and act …” (1 Kings 8:38- 39; cf. 2 Chronicles 6:29-30). David calls out, “Hear the voice of my supplication as I cry to thee for help, as I lift up my hands toward thy most holy sanctuary” (Psalm 28:2; cf. also 134:2). Most often, however, hands are lifted up to God in heaven.


Hands express the inner man. Desperate for some response from God, David says, “I stretch out my hands to thee; my soul thirsts for thee like a parched land” (Psalm 143:6; cf. vs. 8). 


Hands mirror the soul stretched out to touch God, “… for to thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul” (vs. 8; cf. 25:1; 86:4).

Lifted hands must not mask sin. Worship offered to God while still practicing iniquity is an abomination (cf. Ps 40:6-8; 50:7-23; 51:16-19; Is 1:11-18). Defiled lives must be cleansed by repentance: “When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean ….” (Isaiah 1:15-16; cf. 59:1-3). Rather we are to lift up “holy hands without anger or quarreling” (1 Timothy 2:8). The prophet Jeremiah admonishes the Israelites mourning the destruction of Jerusalem, “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord! Let us lift up our hearts with our hands to God in the heavens” (Lamentations 3:40-41, KJV).


The lifting of the hands so characterizes prayer in the Bible that it becomes a metonymy, a symbol for supplication without the need to identify it as prayer. For example, Jeremiah urges, “Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children …” (Lamentations 2:19; Psalm 44:20; and Lamentations 1:17). To lift the hand to God means invoking His help.


Lifting Hands in Blessing

Yet hands are not only lifted in supplication. They are also lifted to offer a blessing to God.

The custom of the laying on of hands underlies the use of hands in blessing. The laying on of hands was understood to confer or impart something. One’s sins, for instance, were transferred to the sacrifice through laying on of hands (Leviticus 1:4; 16:21-22). More often, however, the hands conveyed a gift or blessing. Ordination bestowed authority, consecration, or special gifts (Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 34:9; Acts 6:6; 13:3; 14:23; 1 Timothy 4:14; 1:18; 2 Timothy 1:6). 

The Holy Spirit Himself was sometimes conveyed by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:17-18; 19:6). Jesus commonly imparted the blessing of healing through His hands (Matthew 8:1-3, 14-15; 9:20, 25, 29; Luke 4:40; etc.). Jacob pronounced a blessing on Ephraim and Manasseh by laying on his hands (Genesis 48:14-15) and so Jesus blessed the little children (Mark 10:16). To bless an individual, the person laid his hands on him. To bless a group, hands were lifted and extended over them, as in the priestly blessing (Leviticus 9:22) and Jesus’ blessing of the disciples at His ascension (Luke 24:50).

Lifting of hands in praise to God derives from this understanding of imparting a blessing. David lovingly calls to his faithful God: “So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on thy name” (Psalm 63:4). Temple worshipers are exhorted, “Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!” (Psalm 134:1-2). 

David sees such heart worship as the kernel of more formal worship: “Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice!” (Psalm 141:2). Lifting the hands to honor and bless God expresses love for Him (Job 11:13; Psalm 68:31) and His commandments (119:48). When the covenant is renewed in Jerusalem after the Exile, the whole congregation participates: “Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God; and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen,’ lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6). Even nature blesses the Lord: “… The deep gave forth its voice, it lifted its hands on high” (Habakkuk 3:10). [Here we see a combination of lifting the hands in blessing and the hand (singular) lifted up to God to solemnly swear before Him. Cf. Genesis 14:22; Exodus 6:8; Numbers 14:30; Deuteronomy 32:40; Ezekiel 20:5; 36:7; 47:14; etc. Lifting the right hand to swear in court survives in our culture].


In a series of complex passages, we see the concept of hands uplifted in prayer merged with lifting hands to impart. In Egypt, Moses stretches out his hands to God to end the plague of thunder and hail (Exodus 9:29, 33).  In the wilderness battle with Amalek, as Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands the Israelites were victorious, but when Moses’ hands grew weary the Amalekites gained the advantage (Exodus 17:11-12). [Jewish and Christian commentators have traditionally interpreted Moses’ uplifted hands as an act of prayer (Mishnah, Rosh Hashanah 3:8; Calvin, etc.). So C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976, reprint), in loc. Brevard S. Childs (The Book of Exodus, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1974, p. 310-317) and others deny that prayer is involved, but suggestions of magic or the hands as instruments of mediating amoral power are unconvincing.]

Yet in each of these passages “the rod of God” seems to be in Moses’ hand (9:22-23; 17:9). While prayer seems to be indicated, we also see hands imparting God’s deliverance. Moses’ hand becomes the hand of God to bless and set free His people much the same way Jesus’ hand loosed those Satan had bound (Luke 13:10-16).



Lifting Hands Then and Now

From the Old Testament scriptures, it is obvious that believers commonly prayed and praised while lifting their hands. The First Letter to Timothy assumes the practice among males in Christian assemblies as late as 60 A.D.: “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling” (2:8). A Christian sarcophagus carving depicts a person with hands lifted in prayer, attesting that the practice was characteristic of Christian prayer in the Third Century A.D. [A photograph is found in C. K. Barrett, The Pastoral Epistles (New Clarendon Bible series; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), p. 53. Figures called oranti were found in catacomb frescos, usually in a standing position with arms extended. See the article on “Oranti” in William Smith and Samuel Cheetham, A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities (New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1968; reprint of 1880 edition), II, 1463f. See more at “Orante,” Early Christian Symbols,, 2006.]


Yet it is strange to find no references to lay lifting of hands in prayer in Rabbinic writings. [So Dr. Elieser Slomovic, Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature, University of Judaism, Los Angeles, California. Private communication, April 30, 1985.] Jewish writers explain the cessation of this prayer form in the synagogue as a reaction against the prevalence of the custom among Christians. 

The practice of lifting the hands survives today in Western Christian and Jewish traditions primarily in the priestly or pastoral blessing of the people. [The lifting of hands continued in the church beyond the Third Century primarily in the monastic movement. There are remnants of the practice in liturgical churches. In the present Roman Catholic mass the priest lifts his hands, shoulder high, palms out, during the Eucharistic prayer. In the Greek Orthodox mass the priest lifts his hands above his head while saying, “Let us lift up our hearts to the Lord.” In more liturgical churches the minister lifts up the bread and cup in offering much as a pastor might lift collection plates in dedication.]


Pentecostals, however, have revived the ancient practice of lifting the hands in worship because they have sought to emulate the Biblical models. In contrast, childhood instruction to fold little hands in prayer (probably to keep them out of mischief) finds no antecedent in Scripture.

Our hands are reflective of our being.

Many of us, like the proverbial Italians, cannot talk without our hands. As people begin to yield their hands in expression to God, there often is a corresponding release in their worship.

Our own culture suggests meaningful gestures which communicate these various expressions. Palms lifted up might express openness, invitation, surrender. Reaching out signifies entreaty, supplication, and dependence. Hands extended palms out may symbolize extending a blessing to God much as a minister’s benediction with hands stretched over the congregation imparts a blessing to them.


We must never allow lifting our hands to become an empty form; they are to express the inner being to God. As we use our hands to bless God, may there be a fresh release of expression from our hearts in prayer, worship, and love to God. 


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






  • Genesis 14:22 Leviticus 1:4, 16:21-22
  • Numbers 14:30 Deuteronomy 32:40, 34:9
  • Job 11:13 Psalms 25:1, 27:4-5, 28:2, 8, 86:4, 141:2
  • Isaiah 59:53 Lamentations 1:17, 2:19
  • Habakkuk 3:10 Matthew 8:1-15, 9:25, 29
  • Luke 4:40 Acts 6:6, 13:13, 14:23
  • 1 Timothy 1:18, 4:14 2 Timothy 1:6


Reflexology, also known as zone therapy, is an alternative medical practice involving the application of pressure to specific points on the feet and hands. Mudras can be thought of as self-acupressure.

See many of the hand points in this image, as well as on page 74 of Stretching Your Faith by Michelle Thielen.

You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb. I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart. Your works are wonderful—I know that very well. My bones weren’t hidden from you when I was being put together in a secret place, when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my embryo, and on your scroll every day was written that was being formed for me, before any one of them had yet happened God, your plans are incomprehensible to me! Their total number is countless! Psalm 139:13-17, Common English Bible

As seen on your reflexology charts, the hands are loaded with sensory and motor nerve endings that communicate to the brain creating the potential for powerful shifts in physical, psychological, and spiritual awakenings.

If mudras are described as self-acupressure, based on the chart above and/or in Stretching Your Faith, draw or circle the points and fingers you would need to start healing your personal ailment (or preventative). 

Notes and Resources:

  • Authors: Monette Benjamin, MaryAnn Sander, Michelle Thielen and Dr. Ralph F. Wilson for YogaFaith, used with permission for Christian Yoga Association.
  • Unless otherwise noted, all quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.
  • There are 28 verses which clearly refer to lifting the hands in blessing or supplication. If lifting of Moses’ hands (or rod in his hand) is included as prayer, then another 11 verses may be added. In light of the multitude of references to lifting hands in worship, the lack of in-depth treatment in the scholarly literature is surprising.
  • Two main Hebrew verbs are used to describe the lifting of hands: nasa — “to lift up” (Psalm 28:2; 63:4; 119:48; 134:2; Habakkuk 3:10; Lamentations 2:19; 3:41; a related noun is used in Psalm 141:2) and paras — “to spread out,” sometimes translated “to stretch out” (Exodus 9:29, 33; 1 Kings 8:22, 38, 54; 2 Chronicles 6:12, 13, 29; Job 11:13; Psalms 44:20; 143:6; Ezra 9:5; Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 4:31). Other verbs are rus — “to run, quickly stretch out” (Psalm 68:31), rum — “to raise, lift” (Exodus 17:11), shatah–“to spread out” (Psalm 88:9); shalah — “to send, stretch out” (Job 30:24), and nata — “to extend, stretch out” (Exodus 9:22). The noun mo`al — “lifting” (Nehemiah 8:6) derives from the root `ala — “to go up.”
  • There is considerable literature on the laying on of hands. Some of the more helpful references are: Eduard Lohse, “cheir,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, G. Kittel and G. Friedrich, eds., G. W. Bromiley, tr. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ET 1964-1974, 1933-1972), 9:424-437; David Daube, The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism (London: University of London, 1956), pp. 224- 246; G. W. H. Lampe, The Seal of the Spirit (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1951), pp. 223-231; and J. K. Parratt, “The Laying on of Hands in the New Testament: A Re-examination in the Light of Hebrew Terminology,” Expository Times 80 (1969), pp. 210-214.

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