Preparing Our Mind for Worship

Preparing Our Mind For Worship

Preparation is vital to success. The runner who does not engage in rigorous training and conditioning well in advance of and leading up to race day cannot expect to finish well. In fact, he invites injury, as he has not readied his body for the strain, which it is to endure. Christian worship is in some respects parallel to the athlete's situation. If our worship is to be successful (successful worship is when God is glorified and saints are edified), we need to prepare ourselves beforehand.

Each Lord's day, churchgoers "prepare" themselves. They shower, shave, perfume, dress in their finest clothes, and head off to service. But are they really prepared? You see, appearing ready, and being ready are not the same. In the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), all ten appeared to be ready. They all walked along the path to meet the bridegroom carrying their lamps with them they all bore the appearance of preparedness. But, as the text reveals, only five had taken oil; only five had truly prepared themselves.

If all we have done to prepare for worship is bathe, groom and adorn our bodies, we are no more prepared than had we left these undone. I don't mean to discount the value of respectful attire and appearance, but too much emphasis can be placed on these to the neglect of the more important. Such is much akin to the Pharisees focus on tithing even to the smallest spice, but disregarding the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy and faith.

The New Testament speaks of the preparation needed in the Christian mind for serving God. As with all aspects of our service, the mind needs to be set ready for worship. The apostle Paul instructed the Colossians, in Colossians 3:2, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth."  If each day in the Christian life is to be conducted with such a godly perspective, then how great our attention to things spiritual should be when we have assembled to worship God. Let us consider some necessary preparations for successful worship.

APPROACH IN HOLINESS
Psalm 24:3-4 asks the question, "Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place?" The answer comes a verse later, "He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully." To worship a holy God, the worshipper must approach in holiness. If our hands and hearts are stained with sin, we cannot enter His presence. Isaiah 59:1-2 states,
Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. We may act and talk spiritually, we may assemble with the Lord's people to worship, but if there is sin, He will not hear us, for He knows our heart (Psalm 139:1-4),  O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

 

UNITY FIRST, WORSHIP SECOND
God's people ought to dwell in unity. Psalm 133:1 states,
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! but such does not always occur (Galatians 5:15), But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. Whenever factions arise between brethren, you can be assured that the worship will be affected.  One cannot engage in these and maintain the proper attitude for worship at the same time. One or the other must be set aside.

Jesus commanded that the worshipper be reconciled to his brother before proceeding to worship the Lord (Matthew 5:23-24), Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.  When we come before God for worship, it should be with a clean conscience and a pure mind. If we are aware of circumstances where peace needs to be made, let us make it, so as to not hinder our worship. Paul wrote, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."  (Romans 12:18)  It is vitally important to the success of our worship that we are at peace with the saints.

"...READY OUR MINDS..."
It is great to visit with brethren before and after worship worship, but we need to be cautious not to allow our visiting to hinder our worship. Sadly, I have seen some who go on visiting even after the worship has begun. It requires more than bodily presence to say we worshipped God. Our minds must be focused on the task at hand, whether it is a prayer which is offered, a song to sing, or a lesson to be heard.

Friends, worship is both a privilege and a solemn responsibility. It is to be undertaken both with sobriety and gladness, and will be successful if we have prepared our minds to exalt the Lord and to encourage our brethren. May we say along with the Psalmist, "I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.  (Psalm 122:1)
 
Jimmy
Adapted