Worship is our response to the overtures of love from the heart of God. It is kindled within us when the Spirit of God touches our human spirit. In worship we experience, feel, and know the resurrected Christ in the midst of the gathered community. God seeks, draws, and persuades us to come into God’s presence and worship is our response to the divine initiative.
Jesus tells us to “Worship the Lord your God and serve God only” (Matt. 4:10). The one true God is the God who Jesus revealed. As we read about God’s self-revelation to the ancient people of Israel, meditate on God’s attributes, gaze upon the revelation of God’s nature in Jesus Christ, we begin to see the God we worship. Then we cannot help but to be filled with awe at God’s infinite wisdom, wonder at God’s unfathomable mercy and love and find that our only reasonable response is to worship (Rom. 12:1). We praise God for who God is and thank God for what he has done.
Jesus’ first commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mk 12:30). The divine priority is worship first, service second. Service flows out of worship. Service without worship is the temptation we face when answering calls to service without first seeking the Lord’s presence. Service cannot be a substitute for worship.
If we long to go where God is going and do what God is doing, we will move into deeper, more authentic worship. So how do we do that? The Bible shows us that God’s people gathered in
holy expectancy. The early Christians gathered in community to discern the will of God. So, we also gather in worship with anticipation, knowing that Christ is present among us. Even while living through the demands of the day, we practice nurturing inward worship and adoration, so that as we work, play, eat and sleep we are listening to God. In this way we foster an intimate habit of constant conversation with God which grows easier each day. Therefore, we begin to find it increasingly easier to distinguish God’s voice from the clamor of everyday life.
So how do we prepare for worship? Begin by living throughout the week listening for God’s voice and obeying God’s word. Enter the worship service ten minutes early and lift your heart in adoration to the Lord. Contemplate God’s majesty, glory and tenderness as revealed in Jesus Christ. Pray for God’s presence during worship in the singing, prayers, liturgy, and teaching. Next, pray for the pastor and other worship leaders to hear God’s voice. When people enter the room give thanks for their fellowship and pray they will feel God’s presence. Hold those who seem to need special attention in intercessory prayer. When celebrating Holy Communion partake the bread and wine with gratitude for the body and blood of Christ given for us that we might have eternal life.
“Since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus…and since we have a great priest over the household of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith…Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for God who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another in love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together…” (Heb. 10:19-25).
Please note: As I am preparing for an upcoming 8 week Sunday School on Prayer, I will be posting devotions in the form of poetry, inspirational quotations, hymns and prayers.