I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. (1 Tim. 2:8)

“What is that cup with two handles?” I wondered. My husband and I were window-shopping in Jerusalem when we saw these perfectly shaped cups with a handle on both sides. These cups are used to pour water two or three times over one’s hands when preparing to eat a meal with bread. The washing is not for cleansing, but for symbolically purifying the hands.

On her blog, Lori Palatnik explains the Jewish custom of washing hands before eating bread. Water represents the Torah or wisdom, hands represent our interactions or dealings with others in daily life, and bread is the sustenance of life. The pouring of water over the hands symbolizes interacting with others in a wise, kindly manner.

Paul states men and women everywhere are to pray with hands that are holy, lifted in praise to and reliance on God. When one prays, he or she should not have any anger that is on a slow boil toward another person, especially someone in the same congregation as they commune with God together in prayer. If a believer resents or is at odds with another believer, it interferes with his conversation with God and may disrupt the unity of worship.

Perhaps we too should pause and wash our hands with a two-handled cup before praying, so that we can reflect whether our hands are holy.

When you wash, reflect on whether your hands are holy.

Gena Duncan lives with her husband in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the summer and Naples, Florida, in the winter. She authored They Walked with God (WestBow Press).

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.