Preparing for Corporate Worship

by Jill McFadden

Every week we Christians get together to talk and to sing about how wonderful our God is, how worthy He is to have all of our devotion.  Every week He himself meets us there- encouraging, sometimes convicting, teaching, molding, comforting.

It is, to be sure, the ultimate calling of our lives: to worship God.  Everything else we do- how we work and play, how we relate with our husbands or wives or parents or children or neighbors or coworkers, how we serve people- is part of this ultimate calling.  The worship (not just the music!) that is the focal point of our attention on Sunday mornings is to be the backdrop of every single thing we do throughout the week.  We are to live out the story of His worthiness in the day-to-day, ordinary things.

But, if we’re honest, even those of us who intellectually understand the importance of worship don’t always live as though we understand it.  Sometimes it’s easier and more appealing to sleep in on a Sunday morning or to go out on the river than to get up, get the kids ready, and get to church.  Sometimes when we do get there we’re so hurried, so tired, or so preoccupied with the normal details of life that the last thing on our minds (as we slip into the back of the sanctuary with our cup of coffee) is the very thing we are theoretically there to do.

This is, for our frenetically-paced society made up of sinners like ourselves, pretty normal and natural.  The unnatural (or supernatural) thing is to come ready and willing.  To come to worship on Sunday morning prepared to fully engage in praising the Lord takes extra effort.  To view the rest of your week as countless small acts of worship also takes work.  If we are to come to corporate worship and fully participate- with our minds, hearts, voices, bodies- it helps to come prepared.

To that end, below are links to a few free resources that you can use to prepare your heart for Sunday’s worship on Saturday or throughout the week.  We prepare in order to be able to give our praise wholeheartedly and to be ready to receive what He has to give us.  And, the more we prepare for corporate worship throughout the week, the more we’ll understand how those other six days can also be worship-filled.

Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.  Their “Preparing For Worship” page has links to short paragraphs and questions to help you prepare to sing, to hear scripture, to pray, to take communion, to actively participate, and to serve.

“Worship God” free lecture downloads.  For further investigation into the meaning of worship, download free talks by John Piper and others from the latest “Worship God” Conference with Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Topics include the God of Worship, the Heart of Worship, Worship in the midst of suffering, and others.

Psalm 84.  “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!  My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.”  This is a good psalm to read and meditate on in preparation for worship.

One more note–another way to prepare for worshiping with your local church body is to take advantage of the few minutes before the service starts.  Get there early (sounds impossible, I know!).  If your church offers pre-service music or a prelude, take two or three minutes and tell the Lord that you want to receive whatever He would give you this morning.  Ask Him to work in your heart.  Ask Him to meet His people as they worship.  Read a few verses of scripture.  Come ready to bring your own offering of praise, and ready to receive whatever words the Lord would have you hear; then, watch Him work!

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