I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. I Timothy 2:8
This familiar Jewish attitude for praise and prayer (see Ps. 63:4; 134:2 ; Lam.3:41; Neh. 8:6, etc.) naturally passed over to the Christian Church.
Clemens of Alexandria, A.d. 192, is an early witness to the continued observance of the rite.
After defining prayer to be " converse with God," he proceeds to say that therefore, as if reaching up to Him, we " raise the head and lift the hands towards heaven."
Tertullian, his contemporary, " Worshipping with modesty and humility we the more commend our prayers to God, not even lifting up our hands too high, but with self-restraint and becomingly." Again, " We, Christians, looking upwards, with hands outspread, because free from guilt; with head bare, because we -are not ashamed; lastly, without a remembrancer [of the names of the gods], because we pray from the heart."
Origen, A.D. 230, says that among the many gestures of the body, we ought without doubt in prayer to prefer " the stretching forth of the hands, and the lifting up of the eyes;" and that when the devout man prays, he "stretches forth his soul towards God, beyond his hands, as it were, and his mind farther than his eyes."
According to Eusebius, Constantine had himself represented on coins and in pictures " looking up to heaven, and stretching forth his hands like one praying."