When one reflects upon Hebrews 12:18-29, it is obvious that God considers corporate worship a serious matter, not the game that the modern church so often plays. Take a few minutes to open your Bible and read that portion of God’s Word.
If God, Who is “a consuming fire,” receives worship from sinners like you and me (indeed He seeks it! – Jn 4:23), should we not be intentional in how we approach Him? If worship demands reverence and awe should we not prepare to meet our God? It is questions like these that have spurred me to develop the following practical suggestions in preparing for Sunday worship. I have included practical, mundane preparations that free up more time for personal, heart and soul preparation. As you prepare for Sunday, may the application of this counsel lead you into a deeper, less distracted, more God-centered, and heartfelt worship experience.
- Practical Preparations [The purpose of the above practical preparations is to limit distraction and decrease tension in the home, which often results in irritations and conflicts.]
- Prepare Sunday’s meals. Have breakfast made and table set. Perhaps choose simple self-serve breakfasts such as muffins or fruit bread, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, etc. Avoid a high sugar, high carb meal that may lead to drowsiness. Prepare the noon meal as well.
- Gas up the car (this was important when we lived in Missouri and had a 40 min. commute to church)
- Pick out clothes and take care of needed ironing
- Find Bibles (and shoes!) and lay them out
- Set aside your offering (2 Cor. 9:7)
- If you wear hearing aids put in fresh batteries.
- Teachers: make final lesson preparations
- Have children take baths
- Get to bed early. Avoid late night Saturday activities as much as possible. Avoid television, video games, and fluffy books. Avoid anything that trivializes, or tends to put your mind in neutral. God’s thoughts are deep (Ps 92:5).
- Personal/Heart Preparations [The purpose of these personal preparations is to sensitize your heart and mind to meet the Lord in corporate worship. The goal is to go to bed with the Lord on your mind.]
- Delight in the Word.
- Read Psalm 32 or 51 and spend time in confession.
- Read some Scripture about worship (E.g. Heb 12:18-29; Ps 95-100).
- For communion Sundays: read a Gospel account of the crucifixion.
- For communion Sundays, especially, resolve interpersonal conflicts, seek forgiveness where needed (Mt 5:23-24).
- Read a chapter from a solid devotional-style book such as The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer.
- Devote yourself to prayer for tomorrow’s worship service and all participants: ushers and greeters, Scripture readers, musicians, choir, and songleader, preacher, nursery workers, Bible class teachers, visitors, unbelievers who may be present.
- Bible teachers: pray for your students, other classes and fellow teachers.
- Discipline your mind with song. Fill the house with worshipful music. Sing some hymns.
- Practical Preparations
- Get up early
- Keep the television off (the latest news from CNN can wait).
- Personal/Heart Preparations
- The Word – read a Psalm or two
- Prayer – Pray for yourself and your family, your pastor, the worship service and all who will be present.
- Song – Play psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs as background music in your house. Listen to hymns and praise songs in the car on the way to church.
- Get to church at least 15 minutes before the service begins so that you may take care of miscellaneous details, give a word of encouragement to at least one other person, take babies to the nursery and have other children use restrooms. Remember to silence pagers, cell phones, and other electronic devices (consider leaving them at home).
- Be seated in the sanctuary. Spend time looking up songs and Scripture and/or pray.
- Worship the Lord with all your heart in the company of the redeemed (Ps 107:1-2).
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Thy name, O Most High; to declare Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness by night, with the ten-stringed lute, and with the harp; with resounding music upon the lyre. For Thou, O LORD, hast made me glad by what Thou hast done, I will sing for joy at the works of Thy hands. How great are Thy works, O LORD! Thy thoughts are very deep (Psalm 92:1-5).
[Excerpted from Delight in the WORD: Spiritual Food for Hungry Hearts.]