7 Suggestions For Preparing For Worshiping Together
Why is it so hard to worship with all of our heart when we gather for worship?
In Mark 14:12-16 , the word “prepare” is used three times as Jesus and His disciples prepared to take the Passover. In order to worship together, there were certain tasks and details that had to be taken care of so that they could remember what God had done to deliver His people. And so it is also true for the disciples of Jesus today that we must prepare to remember and respond to God’s saving news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was resurrected, overcoming sin and death.
Though we are to be worshiping with all of our lives (Romans 12:1-2), Sunday is still an important time we gather to worship. It is a time we set aside to ascribe worth and honor to God for who He is, what He has done and what He will do. Therefore, a Christian is not just someone who goes to worship, but is a perpetual worshiper who gathers with others to continue worshiping. How then do we prepare to worship to maximize our time together? Here are 7 ways to prepare to worship:
- Know WHY we gather for worship. We worship together because it is prescribed and described in the scriptures (Acts 2:42-47 and Hebrews 10:19-25). The Bible tells us to gather, and that should be good enough. But additionally when we gather together to remember what unites us, namely the gospel of Jesus, (Eph. 2:11-22) and that we are not just a saved individual with a personal relationship with God, but we each are a part of a redeemed people, we remember and see that we are the gospel on display (John 13:34-35). Gathering together for worship is important because it keeps us focused on the gospel, teaches us to value His body and keeps us from becoming self-centered.
- Plan to read the Sunday Morning Preaching Passage in advance and pray through it. We should saturate our minds and hearts with the word that will be preached so we are prepared to interact with it and receive it. We should also pray that God would open wide the eyes of our heart, that we might see wonderful things in His word (Ps. 119:18). Our prayers should be shaped by God’s word.
- Plan to rest adequately. Maybe the worship gathering isn’t as boring as you are sleepy. A spiritual discipline is something we do to enjoy God and obey Him. Having a full night sleep might help you to better honor God and love His people.
- Plan not to be a distraction and determine not to be distracted. From my elevated perch, I have the vantage point of watching distractions unfold. Some are understandable and some are preventable. Going to the bathroom and teaching our children and youth to do likewise, usually makes leaving preventable. I can’t argue with the orphan Annie when she said, “Mister, when you got to go, you got to go!” But every Sunday? When the bathroom becomes necessary and someone does leave, you are not bound to observe their every step as though you are seeing something incredible. Walking is a normal human function. So determine to stay focused for your own good, the good of others and God’s glory. You can’t control others, but you can control what you see and for how long.
- Plan to follow along in God’s word and take notes. I have personally found that taking notes helps me track with the preacher and stay on task so I can worship through listening.
- Plan to sit up and lean forward. I complemented one of our members the other day, saying he was easy to preach to and that he encouraged me by the way he listened. There really is an art to the discipline of listening. He said he intentionally leaned forward to help his listening but also to be an encouragement to those who were speaking. Listening is worship and it is easier to listen when we intentionally posture ourselves to receive.
- Plan to respond. The preacher may not always be right, but the Spirit-inspired text always is. If the preacher is following God’s word and attempting to be faithful to the authorial intent, you can be sure God is speaking, and when God speaks, we must respond by asking: “What attitude or action do I need to change to follow Christ and glorify God?”