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Corporate Worship - Preparing for Worship Print E-mail
Corporate Worship

I.  Introduction:

 Let me begin tonight with a summary of what we have seen in the Scriptures concerning corporate worship.  First, there is a connection between righteous living and corporate worship.  We cannot separate these.  The way we live our lives will impact our corporate worship of God.  Second, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ have radically impacted the corporate worship of God’s people.  It is no longer about times and places but about spirit and truth.  Our worship together is not dependent upon this building.  Rather, it is dependent upon spirit and truth (for more, see below).  Third, the Word of God and the gospel of Christ are central in our worship.  God speaks to us through His Word and it points us to the cross, which enables and empowers our response to Him (spirit and truth).  We sing, we pray, we give, we preach, because Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification.  We must never move away from this truth.  Fourth, elements involved in corporate Christian worship include: preaching (and teaching), singing, praying, giving, ordinances of communion and baptism, and other spontaneous elements (testimonies, words of encouragement, interpreted tongues and prophecies).  Finally, we do all of this to exalt God and edify one another.  As we worship God together faithfully, we will be encouraged to worship Him with all of our lives and all that we are. 

 Keeping these implications in mind, I want to spend the next couple of weeks trying to talk about how we can practically apply these principles in our worship.  Tonight, I want to talk about ways that we can prepare ourselves to worship corporately.  Next week, Lord willing, we will look at how we can faithfully participate in corporate worship.  As always, your comments and questions are welcome.  Since we are talking about preparation tonight, I want to limit myself to discussing things you can do before you get here on Sundays.  These suggestions may seem a bit random and you may pick and choose which seem more helpful to you, but I hope that you will consider them all and that they will help us to prepare faithfully.

II.  Suggestions for preparing for Corporate worship:

 A.  Read/Meditate on the text that will be preached: I try to let you know in advance what text I will be preaching each Sunday.  I do this so that you can spend some time throughout the week reading and meditating on that passage.  This may be as simple as reading it with your family on Saturday night or sometime during the week.  If you want to go further, then you could read it several times during the week and talk about with your family.  If you get really excited, you could write down the main theme of the passage and even some supporting points from the text or maybe even some questions that you have.  Of course, there are other ways to meditate on the text as well.  This is important because it is the truth found in this text that will hopefully be the basis for our corporate worship that morning.  I try to select songs that reflect the themes in the passage.  I try and select a call to worship that is related to this passage as well.  I want us to be moved by and respond to the truth that is found in this text.  If we have spent time reading and meditating upon this text throughout the week, then we will be better prepared to do just that.
 
 B.  Memorize the passage from the book that we are studying: I try to pick a passage for us to memorize that focuses on the gospel, or God’s work of redemption in our lives.  Since we want to keep the gospel central in our corporate worship, then meditating upon this passage throughout the week will be a great way to prepare for Sunday.  I know that memorization is difficult and takes time.  Yet, I am fully convinced that God commands it and God blesses it.  The passage that we are currently working on (1 John 4:7-12) is not that long and is somewhat familiar to us.  Spend time memorizing this text and see how the Lord moves your heart and your spirit to worship Him on Sunday.
 
 C.  Privately pray for public worship: This is a great practice for preparing your heart and mind for worship.  Pray that the Lord would teach you and change you through the proclamation of the Word.  Pray that your heart would be stirred by the truth that you hear.  Pray that the Spirit would use you and your gifts and the gifts of the congregation to encourage others.  Pray for the one who will be delivering the message, that they would faithfully proclaim the Scriptures and apply them to the listeners.  Pray for those leading us in music, that their hearts would be moved and that they would find great joy in leading us.  Pray for others, that they too would be encouraged and edified as we gather.  Other things to pray for could be mentioned, but perhaps the above list will give you a good place to start.

 D.  Take care of yourself physically: This involves a number of ideas.  Let me just mention a few.  First, get good rest Saturday night.  I realize that this is not always possible, but make an effort to get plenty of sleep.  Second, if you get hungry during Sunday services, then be sure and grab something to eat before you come.  If that means eating it in Sunday school, then that is alright, most will not be offended (even if they would like a bite!).  Third, use the restroom before the services begin.  Parents should probably just require their children to do this.  If your son/daughter still cannot make it through the service without getting up regularly, then you might want to have a talk with them (or see a doctor).  Finally, and I know that this is somewhat awkward, but we need to be sure that we are dressed appropriately for worship.  This is not necessarily a problem that I have seen, but I know that it can be.  Fathers need to be aware of what their daughters (and wives) are wearing to make sure that it is appropriate for worship.  Let me be clear: I am not saying that we must dress formally or anything like that, but I am saying that we must be modest in our dress for the sake of others.  There are probably other issues that I could list under this ‘physical’ category, but hopefully you see the point.  Since corporate worship involves physical expression, we need to prepare ourselves physically as well as spiritually.
 
 E.  Try and resolve relational issues before you arrive: One thing that I have learned since being married is that my relationship with my wife can greatly impact my corporate worship.  If we have had an argument that has not been resolved, then I am often distracted at Church.  Thus, if you can, spend time resolving any issues before you come to worship.  Likewise, the same thing can happen between parents and children.  You need to do your best to resolve those issues as well.  Of course, this is not always limited to family matters.  There may be someone in the Church that you have unresolved issues with and you need to do your best to resolve those issues before we gather to worship.  The Bible calls us to remain at peace with one another and to deal with issues as they arise, so hopefully this will not be a common factor.  Yet, perhaps thinking about this each week before we gather will be a good way for you to examine your heart on these issues.

 F.  Other: Any other suggestions that you have found particularly helpful?

III.  Conclusion:

 We are called and commanded to gather each week to worship our God in spirit and truth.  In one sense, this is not a difficult task.  God is so worthy of our praise and what He has done for us in Christ should move us to sing and preach and listen and give.  Yet, if we are honest, corporate worship is not always so easy.  We are easily distracted by circumstances and life in general.  Thus, we need to be intentional about preparing ourselves for worship.  The Puritans had a practice they called ‘warming the oven.’  They would do certain things on Saturdays to prepare themselves and their families for worship on Sundays.  I encourage you to take similar steps. 

People have asked me how to ‘fan the flame’ of worship and I really believe it goes back to what Jesus said to the woman at the well.  We need spirit and truth.  When my spirit is unmoved and lacking in fervor, it is often because I have been neglecting the truth.  Yet, when I spend time throughout the week focusing on what Christ has done for me, meditating on the truth of His death, burial, and resurrection, and praying for the Spirit to move, then I do not find myself being ‘cold’ in worship.  Let the truth of the Word, the truth of your Savior and your God, move your spirit to worship Him fervently and faithfully in corporate worship.  When we prepare ourselves well, we prepare ourselves for a feast.  May we be prepared week in and week out for all that God delights in doing among us as we gather to worship Him corporately.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 November 2009 )

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