Prepare Your Hearts for Worship
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” – Psalm 24:1-4
Psalm 24 is a Psalm of ascent, one used in worship as the people approached the temple. It is supposed that David penned this Psalm as a part of the procession to bring the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple. For us, it is should be used in the same way – to prepare our hearts for worship. The words of the psalmist remind us that God is our creator and that “ascending” into His presence cannot be taken lightly, and that sinfulness will not be allowed in His presence. The person that will be allowed into the presence of God to worship is the person with clean hands (righteous deeds) and a pure heart. But NONE of us fit this lofty standard of perfection! Only by the grace and forgiveness of Jesus are we purified and made “whiter than snow” (Psalm 51).
My question for you is, “How do you prepare your heart for gathered church worship each week?” Gathering as a church, with the prayerful expectation that the Holy Spirit will minister to our hearts, is a special occasion and should be approached with heart preparation. I encourage you to consider and practice a few steps in your family:
(1) Rise early enough to spend some time in prayer and confession before engaging your family and coming to church. Take some time to pray and ask for the blessing and direction of the Holy Spirit on the gathering of our church. It will change your mindset. Confessing your sins will allow you to enter the congregation with a pure heart, ready to hear the preaching of the Word and to encourage friends and strangers around you as we meet.
(2) Play Christian music in your home while you are getting ready for the day – not on head headphones, but a speaker so music honoring Jesus fills your home! For Sunday morning, I really enjoy Fernando Ortega: The Shadow of Your Wings (Hymns and Sacred Songs); Chris Rice: Peace Like a River (The Hymns Project); and (if you like bluegrass) Claire Holley: Sanctuary.
(3) Lastly, come to church with expectation! When people walked miles and miles, stayed late with no food, and strained through the windows of packed houses to hear Jesus – they came with expectation. They expected to hear a word from the Lord and get answers to their questions. They sought healing in body, mind, and soul. They came not even knowing why they came but knowing that something special was going to happen in the presence of Jesus Christ. I feel the same way every time we gather!
I urge you to spend some time preparing your heart, and the heart of your family, for worship this Sunday. May the Lord bless us with His presence.
Soli Deo Gloria,