Most of us wait until we are comfortably situated in the sanctuary, the lights are dimmed and the worship leader gives the downbeat before we begin to worship. That’s too late! That’s a recipe for a less-than-satisfying experience of the greatest activity to which we are called: worshipping in the presence of Almighty God. True worship begins long before we get to church.
Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 100 // Focus: Psalm 100:4
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
The psalmist is speaking of what you do before you get to church. He is talking about how you enter the sanctuary. He is thinking of pre-worship—how you ready your heart in anticipation of meeting the God of all creation as you gather with his people in corporate praise. He is describing your preparation for worship.
So how do you prepare for worship?
Perhaps you have a set routine as you ready yourself for church services, or maybe you don’t. It could be you go through a checklist of pre-flight instructions—I doubt it. Quite likely, your preparations for church just simply happen—a random scramble followed by a mad dash to get you, the kids and the dog out the door. Hopefully, the dog doesn’t go with you. I totally understand that scene.
I would like to suggest couple of things, however, that will not only enhance and elevate your experience of worship, but it is wholly appropriate in light of the One you are preparing to worship. First of all, as you and your family are driving to church, go through a preflight checklist of things for which you are grateful. And just so it doesn’t become routine, add this rule: your thankfulness has to be from the past seven days.
Second, actually begin to sing a song of praise as you drive onto the church parking lot. As you walk up to the church, sing to the Lord. I know, people will think you are weird—who cares. They’re just thinking the obvious. The parking team may give you a quirky look, but what does that matter? You aren’t singing for their benefit; you’re singing for Jesus. I know: I’ve lost you on this one, but I’m serious. Try it for a month, along with the gratitude exercise, and see if it doesn’t elevate your worship game.
By the way, I am not the first to suggest such a thing. Two hundred years ago, John Wesley printed a pre-flight checklist in the front of the hymnbook he authored. Here are his “Directions For Singing”:
- Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.
- Sing them exactly as they are printed here without altering or mending them at all.
- Sing all. See that you join with a congregation as frequently as you can, let not a slight degree or weariness hinder you.
- Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength.
- Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation so that you may not destroy the harmony.
- Sing in tune. Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it, do not run before or stay behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move there exactly as you can; and take care not to sing too slow.
- Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing.
Great—you can sing lustily, but no bawling!