It never fails; Sunday mornings always seem to follow a similar routine. We forgot to set the alarm, I can’t find any matching socks, what my wife planned to wear isn’t clean, my daughter can’t find her shoes, and the list goes on and on. What starts out as an eventful morning of chaos often ends with the lingering of frustration, aggravation and annoyance. Is it ever like this in your household too?
Chaos is part of life. Going back to Genesis 3 we can see how chaos became part of the natural order of life. When God created the world everything was perfect, but sin entered into the world and chaos began. After Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden death ensued. Chaos brings death.
According to the second law of thermodynamics, energy burns out; and left unaided, it produces not a greater amount of energy but less. In a sense nothing is getting better, but worse. This is why clothes fade, metal rusts, and Sunday mornings in my home are destined to be chaotic if left unaided. Yes, chaos brings death.
If worship can be defined as loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and spirit, then chaos has a way of deteriorating anything that is good. That is why these little issues have the likelihood of ruining our worship. Simply put, when my morning starts out this way my mind becomes distracted as frustration and anger crowds my heart. I tend to lose focus of God and when my heart should be turned toward Him but isn’t, the result is often less than pleasing to God. What I end up bringing to God in worship is far less than what it could have been because I wasn’t ready for worship.
Getting ready for worship involves so much more than dressing ourselves and making it to church on time. What good is it to prepare ourselves on the outside only to ignore what should be taking place on the inside? Jesus had some harsh words for the Pharisees of his day who did exactly that. He said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:27-28).
So as not to provoke the Lord to anger, I have determined a few practical steps that can be taken to get ready for worship.
Prepare yourself spiritually.
I wonder how eager you are on a typical Sunday morning to get up and go to church? Do you lie in bed wishing you could stay longer or do you hop right out eager to meet with God’s saints in praise of the King?
Okay, so maybe it is a struggle to get out of bed any morning but I think you get the idea. Many people make the Lord’s day a holiday rather than a holy day (I stole that phrase from someone recently) and would prefer to go fishing or shopping. It isn’t that they don’t want to get up; it’s that they don’t want to get up and go to church. It’s a problem of the spirit.
David said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD’” (Ps. 122:1). You can practically feel his excitement. If you lack the same then perhaps your heart needs tending to. I fear that one of the most overlooked aspects of worship is preparing the heart to worship God.
If you or your family are not already in the routine of preparing yourselves spiritually for worship by praying and spending time together in the Word you would be quite surprised at how much this can change your attitude. Set some time aside Saturday night and ask the Lord to prepare your hearts to bring him worship. And on Sunday mornings, sometime before leaving the driveway, pray together and ask God to bless your worship; that it might be pleasing and honorable to him.
Prepare yourself mentally.
The Apostle Paul said, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1). Our motivation to worship God should be found in His mercies which are everlasting.
Our manner of worship should be to present ourselves as living and holy sacrifices. In baseball when a batter gives up a hit to advance another player on base it is called a sacrifice. He gets that it’s not about him but the bigger picture – winning the game! Likewise, to present yourself as an acceptable worshiper means to surrender what is important to you and focus on the bigger picture – which is God.
Though Sunday falls at the beginning of the week, it often feels like the end of the week – a long week, perhaps. If you find that life has been dragging you down or your mind is crowded with worry and stress, give it up to God. Again, pray that God would clear your mind and heart and help to put him at the number one position. Only then can you really be mentally prepared to worship the King.
Prepare yourself physically.
I chose this section last because it is often the one we focus on the most. Why do we spend so much time cleaning up the outside when we should be more concerned with the heart, which is what God sees? The physical should be the easiest to manage, and should require the least of our effort and a minimal amount of time. I have included some quick tips to help make this possible:
- Set a reminder to go off every Saturday to help you set your alarm clock.
- Give yourself plenty of time of time to have a shower, eat breakfast and get dressed.
- Choose what you will wear the night before and if you have little ones, go ahead and set out their clothing for the next day to ease preparation time.
- Make sure Bibles and other materials are in a proper place to eliminate time searching.
- Are there any others you could add to this list?
Jesus said to the woman at the well, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (Jn. 4:23). When you get ready for worship each day/week, where do you spend the most time preparing – is it the physical? If so, look for ways that you can worship God in spirit and truth, and when you find what works best for you, share it here so that others might benefit from your findings.