Preparation for Worship

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014 in Scripture, Worship

Ecclesiastes 5:1 – Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal in missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory… Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. [John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad]

What is worship?  Most would immediately begin to define worship by the  music in a church (contemporary, traditional, blended, etc.) or style (liturgical, free, open, etc.).  Form and/or content is rarely discussed. And what is central in worship, proclamation of the Word, is often not even included and/or considered.

Worship of the living and true God is meeting with God on His terms, the way that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible.  Solomon is dealing with dead worship.  The worship of God’s people had become routine and ritualistic – formal and dead.  So when they came to the temple, the house of God, they lacked enthusiasm.  There was no sense of expectancy and certainly no urgency in their worship.

We are not to come to worship without properly preparing our heart, mind and soul to meet with the one, true and living God.  The common attitude toward worship is, “What am I going to get out of worship today?   How am I going to benefit?”  But that is to think wrongly about worship.  Worship is for God and to God.  It is not about us.  We certainly benefit, but the God Almighty, is the focus of worship. 

With this in mind, how are we to approach worship?  Solomon says, SERIOUSLY and CAREFULLY – “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.” How can we prepare for corporate worship each week? Here are a few brief pointers:

1) Week before – Be actively engaged in devotion and study. If you know the sermon text, read and meditate on it each day. Pray for the pastor, the service, for others and for self. If the music selections are made available during the week, look over them with over them with your children. As Piper correctly stated, “Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching.”

2) Night before – Read the text for sermon again. Think about the text. Avoid worldly pursuits on Saturday evening (even church stuff!). Go to bed at a decent time and pray for rest in order to rise fresh on Sunday.

3) Morning of – Our first prayers on Sunday morning should be directed to public worship, and especially the preaching of God’s Word. We know that often the greatest battles in many households take place on Sunday morning! Pray that there be no hindrances in getting ready. Also pray that anything that might distract might be bound.

4) Come expecting to meet with God! Often we don’t really worship because we don’t expect it. Our hearts are filled with “stuff” that doesn’t belong, either in our heart or in God’s house. Our minds might be cluttered so that we give little thought to God. If we have prepared throughout the week, these things can be overcome. We can’t expect to show up on Sunday and all the cares of the prior days will vanish. Or, to put it another way, we can’t live six days in the world, however faithfully, and just “show up” for worship on Sunday.

5) Having experienced true heart worship, now go and live it. A truly changed heart will be demonstrated by our actions and our passions.

Over the next weeks I will be considering some things that rob us of the passion to worship and the passion of worship. In the meantime, have a worshipful Lord’s Day on Sunday!


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