“Fruitful and acceptable worship begins before it begins.”
When something is important to me, I prepare. I love to fish. I don’t seem to get enough opportunities but I love to fish. There’s just something exciting about seeing your bobber go down or feeling a tug, and then to fight to reel him in. I hate it when I know that I have to finally leave. I’ll think and talk about that fishing trip for days, even weeks to come.
But when I feel like something is an obligation, I procrastinate. I’m nearly listless. I shuffle around and get ready at the last minute. I often plan an exit strategy on how to leave as soon as politely possible. I go through the motions, but I really don’t want to be there.
Periodically, I’ll be invited to some social event where I don’t really know anyone and may not be particularly close to the person who invited me. But I feel obligated, so I go. I try to not complain to Jane, who often is dragged along with me. Checking my phone is gauche. Reading a book is just rude. So I try to appear interested, while in the back of my mind I’m wondering how long before I can politely escape.
When it comes to Sunday worship, most of us fall into one of those two categories. For some, it’s important and something they anticipate. It’s a highlight of their week. For others, it’s an obligation. The sooner, it’s over, the better. They look for a reason to either not go or to escape quickly.
Often you can look at someone’s face and know which category they fall into, particularly if you’re part of the worship team or preaching. If someone is an unbeliever or an easily bored young person, it’s not surprising to notice that worship isn’t something they particularly enjoy. What’s disconcerting is to see a believer with a look of boredom or worse, disdain. One wonders what’s going on in their heart when worshiping God or being with His people is something to endure, not enjoy.
The Christian life, in many ways, is lived from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day. Corporate worship and being with our spiritual family is a high point of our week and the constant rhythm of our lives. We dare not “neglect meeting together, as is the habit of some” (Heb. 10:25). There’s nothing as meaningful, rich, and glorious on earth as a church family gathering together to worship the Lord. Most Christians believe this. But does it translate into our practice? Or, is the moment we’re sitting in the service the first time we’ve thought about corporate worship in our week?
If corporate worship is as significant as the Bible tells us it is, then shouldn’t we prepare for it? Can you imagine the worship team just showing up and it’s obvious they haven’t practiced? Or, the pastor stands up to preach and says something like, “I’m not sure what I’m going to talk about today. I think I’ll talk about _______.” If preparation is essential for the leaders in worship, isn’t it essential for the participants? How can we prepare for worship?
Prepare your heart. Remember, when you were growing up and your Mom told you not to eat junk food or it would ruin your dinner? Come to worship hungry. Feed your own soul during the week with private worship and even family worship, knowing it will help get your juices flowing for more spiritual food. Ask the Lord to lay His hand on the leaders as they prepare, and then to feed your soul and the souls of those around you. Don’t let Satan distract you with a petty, critical spirit over an off key note or an error in the bulletin or a song that perhaps you’re not familiar with.
Practice quietness beforehand. After you sit down, take a moment to pray and quiet your soul. Our world is loud and busy. To spiritually dine takes contemplation. It’s why quiet and the call to worship is important.
Be a little boring. Go to bed at a reasonable time on Saturday night. Sleepy heads make for foggy minds and drowsy worshipers.
Plan Ahead. Lay out your Sunday clothes and those of your family on Saturday night. Know where your Bible and other materials you might need are. Gas the car and clear the seats for the family. Get up at a decent time so you don’t have to rush, or worse, come in late. Leave home with plenty of time to spare. What does it say about our values when we’re early for a movie or ball game, yet late for worship?
Anticipate it with joy. Cultivate a kind and joyful spirit on Sunday mornings. If it’s the highlight of our week, let’s act like it. Talk about how wonderful the day will be, wake the kids up with excitement. Turn on Christian music for the whole family to listen to. Put a smile on your face. Refrain from turning on the TV or catching up on Facebook on Sunday mornings. We’re so easily distracted. Safeguard your soul.
Whet your own spiritual appetite. Read and prayerfully think through the Sunday morning text earlier in the week. We should seldom be surprised at the passage we hear preached. Working our way through a passage before the worship service provides a more fertile soil for the Spirit to work.
Converse on the ride. On the way to church talk about the passage being be preached. Talk about the things of God. On the way home, use the discussion questions on the insert to more deeply interact with the message.
At the worship service, we’re meeting with our Heavenly Father and our brothers and sisters. Shouldn’t the worship be a highlight of the week? It’s a time to re-charge our souls for the coming week. It’s an opportunity to glorify God and minister to others. Yet, because it’s a weekly activity, it’s tempting to let it become routine. One of the ways to ensure that it’s not is to prepare our own hearts and minds for corporate worship each week.
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address.