Preparing for Worship
This week I want to explore with you a little about what it means to prepare for worship each week. If you open our bulletin on Sunday it’s the first thing you’ll find—during the prelude we ask you to prepare your hearts for worship. It is interesting to note, though, that our Confession says that properly keeping the Sabbath entails, in part, the preparation of our hearts and the ordering of our common affairs beforehand (WCF 21.8). I want to focus in on that “beforehand” aspect and offer some helpful tips on how to prepare for worship on Saturday. I have just four simple things to suggest:
1. Review the liturgy. Did you know that the main elements of each worship service are listed on the main page of our website? By Tuesday at the latest you can find the hymns and the scripture passage for that upcoming Sunday. On Saturday, why not read through the passage that will be preached on the next day? Familiarize yourself with the text…even do some background reading if you wish! Also see what hymns and psalms are being sung that Sunday. If you don’t know one of them, read through it at home and practice singing it. (Along with that point—make sure you have a hymnal of your own at home!) Sadly—especially with music—sometimes we can be distracted by the “newness” of things. This is one way of preventing that kind of distraction on Sunday when our focus should be on God. We are also excited to now upload the full PDF of the bulletin, usually by Friday, to the website under the "resources" tab. This is another way you can walk through the service in preparation.
2. Get your things ready. Lay out your clothes the night before. Make sure you have food ready for breakfast. Set out the bowls and plates ahead of time. Seriously. You want to make sure you have everything you need for the morning to avoid any unnecessary frustrated and frantic last minute running around (this is even more pertinent for families with young kids!). We never want to enter the House of God angry or rushed.
3. Don’t stay out late. In that same vein, Saturday night is a good night to stay in and be boring. Go out late on Friday, not Saturday. You should not be fighting off drowsiness during the service because you didn’t get enough sleep. This point and the previous are things we can do the night before to make sure we are on time the morning of. Our services open with a “call to worship” because we believe that we primarily come to church because God demands it of us. The King of the Universe is summoning us into His chamber, into His very presence, how dare we show up late? Getting our things in order the night before worship is one big way of ensuring that we will show up on time to hear every word that God has to say to us. Why wouldn’t we want to hear every word? He promises to bless us when we do!
4. Pray. We should always be in prayer, of course, but Saturday evening and Sunday morning would be a particularly good time to spend in earnest prayer before our Lord. The world, the flesh, and the devil are always clamoring for our affections and attention. There will be innumerable excuses popping into our heads to keep us from church. We are too tired, too busy, too introverted, too whatever. Pray that God would give you the proper desire to worship Him and serve Him with His people. Pray that the Spirit would open your heart to be challenged and changed by the preached word. Pray for those who will be leading the service. Above all, pray that Christ would be exalted, magnified, and glorified among His people. I hope these few thoughts are helpful as we look ahead to coming together on Sunday. Until then, keep on!