Staying ready for worship – Part 2

So, last week I wrote about Lenny LeBlanc’s quote that he doesn’t get ready to worship, he stays ready to worship. His point is well taken. Hebrews 13:15 reminds us that “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Worship is not just an event, but it is a lifestyle.

However, we do have events that we also call worship events. Do we just “stay ready” for those too, or do we need to prepare for those in more depth? Last week, I wrote about Psalm 24 that addressed what needed to happen before “ascending the hill of the Lord” to worship. What other biblical precedents can we find that would support the need for preparation?

Certainly feasts and sacrifices would have required physical preparation. We read about the celebration of the Passover under the reign of Josiah in 2 Chron. 35. In the NASB translation, we see 7 occurrences of the worship “prepare” or “prepared”.

We also see precident that spiritual preparation for a worship event is also important. As Samuel prepares to annoint David as king, we see that he responds to the elders in 1 Samuel 16:5:

“He said, “In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.”

The word “consecrate” can be translated “sanctify” and has the concept of being set apart or purifying one’s self from sin. This was to be done in preparation before the sacrifice.

First Chronicles also uses this phrase as the Levites prepare for the return of the Ark of the Covenant:

1 Chron 15:11-12 Then David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab,
12and said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ households of the Levites; consecrate yourselves both you and your relatives, that you may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel to the place that I have prepared for it.

So we see biblical precedents for being physically and spiritually prepared for worship. Yet, a relatively recent George Barna poll suggests that only 4 out of 10 regular church attendees have prepared themselves for worship. Barna notes:

Without giving themselves time to clear their minds and hearts of their daily distractions and other problems, many people attend a worship event but never enter a worshipful frame of mind. A large share of churchgoers do not pray, meditate, confess or focus on God prior to the start of a church worship event. One consequence is that they find it difficult to connect with Him spiritually. Having never been taught much about worship, they find the inability to interact with God on a deeper level frustrating, but don’t know what to do about it.

Perhaps staying ready for worship is a very viable solution.

7 comments to Staying ready for worship – Part 2

  • dspiliotis

    I agree that worship is definitely a lifestyle, but how many of us really get and understand what that means? I think if we actually understood it, our preparation in going into a worship setting would look a lot different. We have a responsibility to prepare our hearts, and be open and vulnerable to what God is wanting to speak to us. We need to be on our knees in prayer, and in the word, letting truth penetrate our hearts and our minds. We need to be ready to receive what God is wanting to reveal. The word says that “He confides in those who Fear Him”. Those who FEAR Him, those who respect God and are in constant awe, and reverence Him, putting Him in the proper place in their hearts and lives. When this occurs, God will begin to reveal Himself to us. But we need to do our part, and not just expect God to do it all.

  • brianjfanelli

    Could not agree more. I think that so often, worship leaders get caught up in creating cool arrangements and music that sounds really good without giving their relationship to God first priority. Music should not be the focus of our worship practices or services. Glorifying God in all that we do and worshiping Him with our whole being should be the ultimate goal. I have to admit that I have been guilty of giving music the top priority. But, this summer, as I work with the teams at my church, it is my hope and prayer that we get our priorities straight.

  • tlukasiewicz

    I think this is a really interesting topic. I really like what Lenny said about always being ready. I am not a Bible major or a Seminary grad, but it seems to me like the preparation that people in the Old Testament had for worship, differs significantly in the preparations we now partake in. The biggest difference between the two is the Holy Spirit.

    In the OT people had to prepare themselves to go before God in worship because this was the only personal encounter with God they had. In fact, most of them could never even experience the presence of God because there was a veil that separated the people from God’s presence (Exodus 26:33). Only the High priest had permission to enter this place, and even then, they had to prepare themselves in advance. The preparations were very detailed because those entering the Holy of Holies with an unclean hearts were struck dead, so a rope was tied to them before entering, that way if they died their body could still be pulled out (Exodus 28:31-35).

    In the NT that veil is broken, and their was no more Holy of Holies because “he[Jesus] entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12). The Old way of communicating with God changed, “For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.” Today we have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us every hour, of every day. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us to God, through Christ Sacrifice (romans 8:26-28).

    Some of the most intimate times of singing praise to God have come through spontaneity. We should always be ready to worship God, because our worship does not take place on one day of the week, but every day. Coming together on a Sunday morning (or a Saturday night) to worship corporately should not be something we prepare ourselves in advance for the day of, or even the night before. It should be a relief to us to finally be amongst other people who are finally worshiping the same thing as you.

  • zsantmier

    I agree as well. I feel that the mind set when coming to church is “what can this service offer me” and “how can I be critical today?” These thoughts escalate when leading is brought into the picture. Instead of “what can this service offer me” it becomes “how can I best impact this service for me.” Taking the glory and worship that only God deserves is a scary and treacherous place to be. As leaders, we need to completely focus our energy and thoughts towards God at all times so that we are not tempted to stray away. Always worshiping God will eliminate so many other distractions that can fall our way. This brings us to our issue; do we need to “set ourselves” apart more when we are preparing for an event. I think the answer is yes. If we are constantly worshiping and making great of God, we will already be in the mindset of worship. The problem involves the world. Even if we are consistently worshiping (and if there is one out there that can honestly say they consistently worship 24/7, kudos) we are still surrounded by the world and its sinful desires. Here in-lies why we should indeed “set apart ourselves” more when preparing for a worship event of service. We need to put blinders up and seclude ourselves in a closed room with God before leading people in worship. If we do not take time to pray and spend time with God, we can easily fall prey to the snares of the world and Satan can distract us from our purpose, worshiping God

  • bacruise

    I agree with this post, staying ready is definitely a hard thing to do, but I feel like it would be a very valuable discipline in our walks with the Lord. Many times in the Psalms, David talks about studying God’s word or His law day and night. I think that this can also be applied to “staying ready” for worship. As Christians we have access to the throne of God and that is something that should be taken advantage of (in a good way). We should constantly be talking to God in our hearts and trying to carry on that conversation with Him and let Him talk back. I feel like through out the week this would keep us more focused and help us worship better. Granted we are human and are bound to slip up, but that’s part of life.
    As leaders we should be a good example “in life love faith purity..” etc. Its all about getting to know who God is and helping people do that. Staying ready is something we should all learn to do.

  • cdg

    There is a saying that worship leaders have a worn path to the throne of God. I think that we forget that WE are the church and when we go and worship together it is often viewed as a “recharge” or a time to get everything back together. It is not a weekly meeting with God, but a daily one. When we leave on Sunday or whenever you meet it is not 7 days to slack off before returning to worship. Its 7 wonderful God filled worshipful days to reach others for Christ and to have a personal and often corporate time of worship through music, the study of God’s word, our daily attitude, how we reach others, the list goes on. Our Worship is not something that can be turned on or off. Our Worship is 24/7.

  • jmittelo

    I think this is a pretty interesting thread. I also think it is one that we talk about all of the time but rarely apply the truth we conclude from it. How often have we heard the “buzz words” “worship is a lifestyle” or “worship is more than music”? I think those of us critically thinking within the worship community encounter these statements a lot but rarely know what to do with them. I think it is about time that people, well including myself, start to take this seriously. Our Western civilization and way of life has not helped us at all in this area. Everything about our lives is about time. Our lives also reflect this idea of sectioning things. In our world we have our family life, church life, school life, business life, social life, marriage life, prayer life, and so on. Everything is separate. We dont like things to intermingle. We have trouble with the idea of our “spiritual life” messing with out “corporate/professional life” and visa versa. We need to realize that the Spirit within us transcends any box we can put Him in. We serve an omnipotent God who deserves our worship in EVERY “section” of our lives. We owe everything about our very existence to Him for He is WORTHY of it. Worship is not to put in a box of “church life”. Worship is to be the essence of our being. We our created to scream and shout WORSHIP!