Worship is the most important activity that a believer participates in during any given week. As John Piper has astutely asserted:
“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” (from Let the Nations Be Glad)
“Worship is never a step on our way up to any other experience. It is not a door through which we pass to get anywhere. It is the end point, the goal.” (from Worship Is An End In Itself)
Like anything else worth doing, worship takes some preparations. In other words, we benefit most, we get the most out of worship, when we prepare ourselves for worship.
The following suggestions, taken Joseph “Skip” Ryan, Chancellor of Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, and former pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville and Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, are some that you may find prove particularly helpful:
1. RECOGNIZE: Corporate worship grows out of personal worship. Therefore, the most fundamental preparation for Sunday worship is that which flows from presenting yourself as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1-2) and having a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:1-10).
DO: Ask God for a heart of worship and brokenness each day.
2. RECOGNIZE: You cannot expect to rush into church after an exhausting Saturday night and “be worshipful.” A late Saturday night may be necessary and fun, but if you always get less sleep than you need and are tired in church, can you be alert and attentive to the majesty and presence of the Lord?
DO: Get a good night’s sleep before Sunday worship.
3. RECOGNIZE: You must have a fertile heart Sunday morning.
DO: Spend time alone with the Lord Sunday morning before coming to church (Psalm 5:3).
4. RECOGNIZE: You cannot prepare adequately just before worship if you are late. If you are parking the car, you have missed the beginning of worship.
DO: Plan to be in your seat at least five minutes before the service starts.
5. RECOGNIZE; God is in our presence when we gather for worship; He constitutes us as a worshipping assembly (Hebrews 12:23).
DO: Come, conscious that God is present.
6. RECOGNIZE: There is a healthy balance between greeting friends and being quiet before the service starts.
DO: Be quiet before worship, pray or read a psalm, the prayer at the top of the program, the responsive reading or a creed.
7. RECOGNIZE: Worship centers around the Word read, preached, and heard, for the Word is God’s living voice speaking His will to us.
DO: Listen carefully to the Word read and preached; give the sermon full attention; pray to learn from it.
8. RECOGNIZE: Worship is much more than hearing a sermon. The first half of the service is not “window dressing” or a warm-up for a message.
DO: Concentrate on the meaning of each part of the worship as it occurs.
9. RECOGNIZE: Worship also centers around the Sacraments – ordinances instituted by Christ for the benefit of the believers.
DO: Participate in the Sacraments: Baptism – reaffirm and “improve upon” your own baptism. Communion – attend and expect Christ to minister to you.
10. RECOGNIZE: Worship should change us.
DO: During the minute of silence following the benediction, resolve to do one concrete thing on the basis of your worship (Romans 12:2).