If we’re honest, many of us show up to weekend worship services distracted, unprepared, and often times, more than a little late. This is sad when we consider the nature of what we’re invited into when we gather for corporate worship.
Each week we gather to ascribe ultimate worth to Jesus, to hear God speak to us through the preaching of His Word, and to connect with the community of Christians Christ has saved us to. What an amazing gift! In many ways, our worship services should be a sacred moment on which the rest of our weeks hinge. But, for this to be the case we have to be far more mindful of how to best prepare ourselves for this gift of grace.
1. Begin the night before
Each week when I stand up to preach, I look out on more than a few bleary eyes who were up far too late the night before. If you want to be alert and prepared, then get to bed at a time that makes these goals possible.
2. Wake up on time
Leaping out of bed, into last nights clothes, speeding to church, and sprinting to your seat, hardly provides you time to prepare for the task at hand. If you get to bed the night before, you should be able to forfeit a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning. This provides you the time necessary to prepare your entire self for worship.
3. Warm your heart with God’s Word
Each Sunday (each day, really) I open my Bible and pray the same prayer: “Lord, please warm my heart with your Word.” Understand, I don’t mean, “Give me warm fuzzies like a Halmark card.” I mean, “Remind me of who you are and what you’ve done. Convict me of my sin and call me to repentance. Assure my heart and mind of your love and grace displayed, provided, and poured out through Christ’s death and resurrection.” This is how God’s Word warms out hearts.
4. Pray for preparation
As God’s Word reveals your sin, confess it and repent. As it reveals His grace, thank Him. As it commands your obedience, beg Him to empower it. This is the process that prepares us to proclaim the goodness of God with the people of God. Imagine what would happen if every Sunday morning you simply asked the Spirit of God to prepare your head and heart to hear from Him. That’s a prayer God always say, “Yes” to.
5. Arrive with eager expectation
We should head to church with a quiet excitement. “I’m getting ready to worship Jesus! I’m about to hear the Spirit of God speak to me! I’m getting ready to gather with my Christian brothers and sisters to do what we were made to do!” If we’ve prepared, if our church is centered on Christ, if the Word of God is proclaimed, we should EXPECT a life-changing encounter with God EVERY week!
No more “church as usual.” No more treating corporate worship like a religious obligation. No more stumbling in late and rushing out early. This week, when you gather with the people of God go prepared to encounter the presence of God.