In Mark 1, it is written that John the Baptist comes to pave the way for Jesus. When we are getting ready to worship the Lord, we must prepare ourselves, to pave the way for the Holy Spirit to do something incredible with our lives. So how do we prepare ourselves for worship?
1. We need to address the condition of our hearts. Isaiah 29:13, 1 Corinthians 11:2
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
Everything we say and do comes out of our hearts. When angry words escape our lips, anger is dwelling in our hearts. When we lie or gossip, we are harboring deceit and a critical spirit. So then, when we enter the church service and begin singing to the Lord without first addressing these things, we are being false. When you sing along with the worship band, are the words on your lips truly a representation of what is in your heart?
In Matthew 15, as the Pharisees complain about the disciples breaking tradition, Jesus replies that their traditions are not what matters to Him. He says in verses 7-8, "You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.'"
Let the Lord cleanse your heart before you begin. Examine yourself: are there things you have not confessed or addressed? When He cleanses our hearts, we can truly draw near to Him and mean what we say. This is what matters to God.
2. We need to identify what distracts us.
Pastor Stephen shared that he and his wife have an agreement about eating in a restaurant. If there is a TV nearby, he seats himself facing away from the screen. If not, no matter how he tries to focus his attention on his wife, his gaze is pulled to the TV message and his focus is lost.
The Gospel of Luke gives an account of two sisters about to host a large dinner with Jesus as one of their guests. Martha is busy preparing for the meal, while Mary is captivated by Jesus' words as she sits at his feet.
But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:40-42
Martha wasn't self-serving, but she was allowing other things take her attention away from the Living God right there in her home. Jesus wants our attention and He wants to spend time with us. So put your cell phone aside and let go of the conversations you a rehearsing in your head. Sit at His feet and let His presence captivate you.
3. We must have the right focus in order to fully worship Him. Romans 5:8, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Do we really grasp the magnitude of what God has done for us? He willingly sent his only son to die and cover the penalty for our wrongdoing, even knowing that we will continue to sin. Think about all the sin in our world! Jesus lays down His perfect, holy, sinless life to cover it all. This kind of love is out of the realm of our comprehension.
When we fully understand how much the Savior loves us and what His death and resurrection really mean, worship will be unavoidable. So when you come before Him, clear your mind of distractions. Think about His great love and unmatched character. Focus on worshiping the Creator of the universe!
Four Steps to Prepare Your Heart for Worship - Hebrews 10:22
1. Sincere Heart
Reduce/Remove Distractions: Turn off the TV, radio, cell phone, and avoid arguments or foolish conversations before engaging in worship.
2. Assured Heart
Tell God how great He is and how grateful you are for Him, knowing He fully accepts your worship.
3. Humble Heart
Remember that you are unworthy to be in His presence but can draw near because of what Christ has done on your behalf.
4. Clean Heart
Confess sin that has been revealed in your life and ask God if anything else needs to be addressed before engaging in worship.