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Staying ready for worship

At our recent Worship 4:24 Conference, Lenny LeBlanc was asked “What do you do to get ready for worship?” He paused for a second, and then gave a good (and thought provoking) answer, “I don’t get ready for worship, I stay ready for worship.”

I like that concept a lot. We should be living lifestyles of worship (Rom. 12:1-2) where we are constantly offering ourselves as living as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God. In some respects, getting “ready” for worship suggests an incorrect division of life into sacred and secular, and that the Sunday worship event is more significant that our “everyday” lives. If we are not living lives of worship, we can be found guilty of a duplicitous life.

However, I wondered about dismissing preparation for worship as being perhaps unspiritual. I’m not suggesting this is what Lenny had in mind, but if we take it at face value “is it unspiritual to get ready for worship?” Are there biblical references to getting ready for worship?

Psalm 24 is a favorite of mine. Reading this psalm can help us understand about worshiping God, and what is required to do before worshiping.

3Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

The hill of the Lord referred to here almost certainly is Mount Zion where the temple worship would have taken place. Those ascending the hill would be those going to worship, and those in his holy place could have specifically referred to the Levitical priests doing their priestly duties.

So what does this psalm say to us about preparation for worship? Those that are going are to have clean hands. I believe this speaks to the outward person. Hands are what we use to “do” things. Having clean hands must mean that we have washed them with forgiveness that can only come from Christ, and should be done in preparation for worship.

We are to have pure hearts, which I believe speaks to the inward part of us, and that which motivates and controls our behaviors. Jesus speaks about attitudes of the heart being important (Matt. 5:8, Matt. 5:28).

Lifting up your soul unto vanity could mean having our priorities out of line, with things that don’t matter becoming idols for us. Swearing deceitfully signifies that the individual has not been truthful. Both of these qualifications for worship can be addressed as one’s own preparation for worship.

Stay tuned for part two.

6 comments to Staying ready for worship

  • rmhoesterey

    I loved Lenny’s quote about staying ready for worship because being a worship leader really is a lifestyle, not just how we present ourselves on stage. I don’t want someone to know I’m a Christian because they see my singing on stage or raising my hands during a song. I want people to know I’m a Christian by how I act. All this to say, I don’t think it’s unspiritual to prepare for worship however. This might be a terrible analogy, but it’s kind of like being the President. President Obama is president all the time, but he is intentional about his presidential duties. He has to do things like prepare speeches. Likewise, we are worshippers all the time, but we still need to prepare both our hearts and our skills before we play a set. Leading others to the throne isn’t something to be taken lightly and we need to be skillfully prepared before hand so that we can use our gifts in the best way we can to glorify God.

  • jmittelo

    I think Lennys comment has a lot of depth to it. One thought that came to my mind was this:

    In the times of the Old and New Testaments, as well as in many other traditions today, there is a process to become in a sense “worthy” to worship. That could be going to Confession or having some sort of ceremonial cleansing. Because of grace, we know that God is always waiting to forgive us, always waiting to renew us and always reconciling us to Himself. (1 John 1:9) Lenny’s comment to me has meaning in that he does not wait for that one time a week to think about worship and “prepare” himself for worship. Instead, it could mean that he is always undergoing the process of being renewed by God. It is the continual process of being formed into the person God wants you to be and that means being forgiven and restored on a continual basis. Let us not wait until we have a “worship service” to be restored by God. But may we continually have an attitude that wants to be refined by and reconciled to Him.

  • Nancy

    Thanks for the share!

  • Great thoughts Dr. O! A thought that came to mind is we are not perfect, and no matter how hard we try to stay ready for worship we’re gonna mess up. It’s in confessing those things to God and seeing His forgiveness and work in our life that we’re preparing our hearts for worship. So even if it’s a constant thing in our lives, our lives as an act of worship- we still mess up and still need to “get ready” for Sunday.

    • Roger

      Totally agree! We must be clean before our holy God. The brass laver in outer court of the tabernacle showed that being washed before going into worship was very important.