Summary: So our highest priority as Christians is to give glory to God, to exalt him by giving Him worship. We are created and called to worship. That’s the reason we gather here today and every Sunday. So how do you prepare for worship?
Preparing for Worship
When you read the Old Testament, you cannot help but see the importance of worship in the lives of the people of God. Abraham worshipped. (Gen. 22:5) Jacob worshiped (Herews 11:21), Moses worshiped (Ex. 34:8), Joshua worshiped (Josh 5:14) and David worshiped (2 Sam. 12:20) and a host of others. Worship is an integral part of the lives of the Jews. Is there any wonder? For the first commandment is, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…” Exodus 20: 3-5 And then the fourth commandment is the command to keep the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship. So from the beginning of time, God made it clear that we are to worship Him and worship Him only and woven into the fabric of creation is a specific day of worship. We find in the New Testament that worship is just as important. The disciples worshiped the Lord, (Matt. 28:9) and the New Testament church worshiped regularly (Phil. 3:3). And each time we get a glimpse into heaven, we see worship happening, “the 24 elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever.” Rev. 4:10 And at the end of time when God completes his plan of salvation, worship will be all there is as we live in God’s presence.
So our highest priority as Christians is to give glory to God, to exalt him by giving Him worship. We are created and called to worship. That’s the reason we gather here today and every Sunday. But here’s what I want you to understand: our worship should begin long before we enter this sanctuary. That’s the mistake too many Christians make because they arrive thinking that worship begins when the service starts or when they arrive. It’s also the reason why so many have worship experiences that fall far short of what God intends for us in worship. In short, we come unprepared. Remember our definition of worship a few weeks ago? Worship is our response both personal and corporate to God for who He is and for what He has done expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live. You cannot give and experience great worship corporately on Sunday morning without having individually worshiped Him through the week. Corporate worship is important but it hinges upon our individual worship. And the devil knows that if he can distract us from individual worship, it will hinder our corporate worship. And it will impact how we approach worship on Sunday morning. Owen Bourgaize writes, “It’s all too easy to go to God’s house without preparation of thought and prayer and self-examination. If I went to my services as carefully prepared as I went to work, my ministry and worship would be far richer.”
So how do you prepare for worship? Our Scripture passage today is believed by most scholars to have been written not long after David had captured the city of Jerusalem. David’s desire was to build a religious and political center for his kingdom in the city of Jerusalem, a permanent place of worship for God. So David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, sets it upon Mount Zion and asks, “Who can ascend to the hill of the Lord?” to worship. Who can meet with God? Who can come before him in worship? In other words, what makes us worthy and ready to approach God and worship Him? The Scriptures make clear that to come before God demands one be prepared. What we find is that there are four keys to personal worship.
First and foremost, you have to take personal responsibility to arrive ready and prepared to worship God. That means you have to become intentional about developing an intimate relationship with God and that begins with your commitment to worship him outside of Sunday morning. It’s God’s desire to always be close to His children. It’s His desire to be worshiped by you personally. No one is going to improve your worship other than you. I am not. Ms. Adrain and Committed aren’t. You just can’t show up here on Sunday morning and start worshiping. If you do, your worship doesn’t reach its potential. And so you come to worship cold and unprepared and it takes time for you to get warmed up and in the right frame of mind.
When I was a kid in Kansas City, we lived next door to a family who owned a publishing company. They had an old 4 door Mercedes that they would let their son drive to school. He was 3 years older than me and also named Tim. On those winter mornings when the temperature had dropped below freezing, I would walk next door to their house and find the car sitting in the driveway with the engine running to warm it up. Tim would turn on the car and let it run for 15 minutes to warm up the car and engine and get the fluids thawed and running. One morning though, Tim overslept and in his rush to get ready, he forgot to turn on the car. We got inside the car and it was freezing. We backed out of the driveway and headed to school and the car was just spitting and sputtering. We didn’t know if the car was going to get there or not. It took almost the entire ride to school for it to get warmed up and running at its peak capacity. And that’s exactly what happens when we come to worship unprepared. It takes forever to warm up our hearts, focus our minds and free our Spirits so that we can enter worship prepared to encounter and honor and glorify the King. If we don’t take the time to prepare before worship on Sunday morning and to worship individually throughout the week, then it takes most of the praise time or even more to get to a place to worship our Creator and Redeemer. And some of us never even get to that place. And then we walk out say, “That’s wasn’t a very good service today when in reality the worship we gave God was very good to begin with. Worship is both personal and corporate and there’s something unique when you are in the presence of a group of people who have take responsibility to prepare themselves form worship.