Doctrine or Experience? A Theological Assessment of Persistent Hand-Clapping in Contemporary Ghanaian Christian Prayer

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Department for the Study of Religions, University of Ghana


The phenomenon of hand-clapping at prayer meetings seems to have become so common across denominational groupings and congregations in contemporary times. Much as gestures are known and acceptable as a means of communication, this practice seems to have assumed a twist which suggests that it is a theologically appro-priate gesture that has a catalytic power to ensure that expected re-sults are obtained. The phrase; “sɛ mebɔ mensam bɔ mpae a …” lit-erally “if I pray clapping my hands …” is suggestive of this notion. The research therefore employed a mixed design in ascertaining the extent and the basis and reasons people assign to the practice of hand-clapping serving as a catalyst to receiving prompt responses to prayer. The paper concludes that the contemporary practice seems to lack theological credence as a biblical practice. It can, therefore, be best described as an experiential practice and not a normative biblical practice.


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Prayer, Clapping hands, Ghana, African Christianity