06 Feb Preparing For Worship – Caleb Dille
The alarm goes off and you wake up to start yet another day. However, today is special. Today is Sunday.
Your routine is slightly different. Time to pick out a killer outfit for church. Not too traditional but not overly hipster. You want to make a subtle statement with your threads today.
The kids are acting crazy this morning. Probably shouldn’t have let them stay up until eleven last night watching The Lego Movie. You wonder if it is even worth it to get them ready and make the drive in.
Speaking of the drive, you wonder what the traffic will be on the commute in. Would it be faster to go the interstate or should you take a separate route?
Oh great. You took a new route to church this morning and now you’re rolling into service ten minutes late. Thanks, Google Maps.
As you walk into the service you catch the tail end of some Bethel or Hillsong anthem. As you settle into your seat, the next song is starting and suddenly you’re mesmerized by the flashing lights.
Your mind starts to be flooded with thoughts that take you completely out of the moment. Before you know it, the worship band has already walked off stage and the preacher is starting into his sermon.
Oh well, maybe next week you’ll be able to worship a little more.
Does this experience sound anything like a Sunday morning for you? Often times, how we prepare for worship looks much different than how we should prepare for worship. Worship is intended to give God the glory he so rightfully deserves. He desires us to ready our hearts for him. In Exodus, God commanded the Israelites to be ready to encounter him.
Exodus 19:10-11 “And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.”
He doesn’t tell the Israelites to just show up, but he tells them to be prepared. There is a huge difference between the two. Before God ever makes an appearance, he wants their hearts pointed towards and focused on him. He calls us to the same standard. He wants us to engage him. Sometimes we show up expecting God to move, but don’t do anything to engage with him, and when we don’t walk out of church feeling like we had a “moment” with God, we become disappointed.
Isaiah 29:13 “The Lord says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
God yearns, not for the melodies and harmonies that we sing, but rather for our hearts. He wants the hurting, the fearful, the confused, the lonely, and the broken to meet him during worship. And when we meet him in that moment he has the power to heal, to give hope, to give clarity, to draw near, and he gives us strength to pick up the pieces. An encounter with the living God is more than just an emotion or a feeling. It is life changing.
Graham Kendrick writes: “Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises from a feeling which “comes upon you,” but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted in a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.” True, Spirit-filled worship requires action and obedience. So it’s time to get practical. What steps can you take to prepare your heart for worship throughout the week?
First off, spend time in the Bible. I’ve found personally that the more time I devote to God’s Word, the more anxious and excited I am to enter into a time of worship. Psalms is a great book to begin to prepare your heart for worship. So many modern worship songs were inspired by David’s cries of praise. God will reveal himself to us through scripture, which postures our hearts toward him. So dig into the Word and be expectant that God will move.
Another practical way to prepare your heart for worship is through prayer. It is so easy to just ask God for need after need in prayer. The next time you pray, I challenge you to begin by thanking and praising him for ten things. Thank him for his grace, love, mercy, peace, strength, patience, understanding, power, forgiveness, and faithfulness. See how easy that was? This points your heart towards him and removes any chance for selfishness. Obviously, God wants us to ask him for his help and guidance, but he longs for our praise. By structuring prayer this way, praise becomes more than just something we sing on a Sunday morning. It becomes a part of our everyday language, which is how God intended it to be.
The final practical way to prepare for worship is so simple. Listen to worship music throughout your week! I have played guitar for FCC for the past three and half years, and ever since I started I have been drawn to listening almost exclusively to worship music. I am in no way stating that you have to do this. I obviously still listen to other tunes on the radio, but let me tell you why this made a difference for me. It prepares my heart for Sunday. It constantly points my focus towards Jesus. I can’t tell you how many times I have been driving to and from work listening to a worship album, and God has revealed himself to me. Even in the small moments, God is there.
Here is a small list of artists that I listen to throughout the week:
- Elevation Worship
- Hillsong United, Hillsong Young & Free, Hillsong Worship
- Bethel Music
- Kari Jobe
- Vertical Church Band
- Phil Wickham
Here’s the bonus, we play many of these artists’ songs on Sunday mornings! So you can become familiar with the music and focus less on learning lyrics and melodies and more on worshipping God.
In the morning, before you head to church spend time in prayer with God. Ask him to prepare your heart for worship. Ask him to calm your mind from distractions. Ask him to meet with you in that moment.
If you want to grow in God, and grow in worship, it’s not complicated. But it is costly. It takes time. It takes effort. You have to spend your time actively pursuing him. I can promise you that it is so worth it. Try this simple approach to preparing your heart for worship and watch how God will move.