Preparing for Worship
God is on a search for true worshipers. John 4:23 says, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” Will you be one He discovers? If we are going to be one who worships God in spirit and in truth, there are a few things we must do by way of preparation.
Worship is a Willful Act
Worship is something we choose to do. There may be times we don’t feel like worshiping. Maybe we’ve had a bad day, got into a fight on the way to church, or going through a time of discouragement. Whatever the reason, we don’t feel like worshiping. It’s in these times we must choose to worship, offering a sacrifice of praise to God. “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).
Psalm 146:1-2 says, “Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life. I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” Paul said, “I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15). Notice the repetition of “I will.” It was something they chose to do. At times we must challenge and encourage ourselves in worship. Psalm 103:1 and 146:1 says, “praise the Lord my soul” and “bless the Lord oh my soul.” The Psalmist was determined to worship his Lord. We also must be determined to praise the Lord as a willful act.
I’m reminded of of Jacob who had experienced a hard life with many trials, discouragements and set backs. It was so bad that at one point he cried out, “All these things are against me” (Genesis 42:36). Yet, at the end of his life, at 120 years of age, he “worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff” (Hebrews 11:21). If only we had such a determination in worshiping God.
Worship is an Act of Obedience
We are commanded to worship. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name.” We are priests of the most high God and our function is that of a worshiper (1 Peter 2:9). Every person has a built-in worship mechanism. Worship is something we must choose to do in obedience. People frequently refrain from worshiping for a few reasons:
- Pride. They feel foolish giving outward expressions of worship, especially in a public setting. It’s okay for everyone else. They may even enjoy seeing others involved in worship, but they feel foolish participating. James 4:6 says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” Let’s humble ourselves and surrender to worshiping the Savior.
- Rebellion. Not worshiping God is an act of willful rebellion. We often try to disguise our rebellion with some other type of service, as if it were for God. Teaching a class, cleaning the church, etc. Imagine a worship leader challenging everyone to worship and seeing someone standing with their arms folded and with a nasty look on their face saying, “I’m not doing that.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23 says, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.”
We Should Come to Church Prepared to Worship
In our personal time with God we should spend time in the Word asking for divine help to worship Him. We cannot worship God on our own. It’s the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which enables us to worship Him (Romans 5:5). It’s His spirit of adoption which cries out from within us “Abba Father” (Romans 8:15).
As for public worship, Paul said, “Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm” (1 Corinthians 14:26). He gives the indication that we should have our gifts of worship ready when we come to the assembly (church). We must prepare our hearts for our worship experience before arriving at church. If we are honest, many times we arrive at church ready to worship, but we feel resistance. This must be broken before we get there. I imagine few actually come to their local assembly already equipped to worship.
We should spend time in the Word and prayer, seeking the face of God prior to the worship service. For all of us, there are things in both the natural and spiritual realms that must be dealt with and broken before we worship God. This is why I insist on a prayer meeting before each church service. I can tell how the worship service will go by the atmosphere of the prayer meeting beforehand.
Participation of Individuals Determines Participation of the Majority
In a public worship service, there may be people who are inhibited by the folks around them. If each person has prepared for worship and begin to worship as a willful act of obedience, the walls of inhibition will come down (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). If the majority are actively involved in the worship experience, individuals will lose their inhibitions and find themselves lost in the freedom of praise and worship. If each person actively participates in worship, the inhibitions of the few will soon fall by the wayside. No matter where or when, you determine the degree to which God is worshiped.