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Unprepared on Sunday Morning

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Yesterday morning, my alarm went off at 7:45 like it does every Sunday. I normally get up before everyone else and shower so I can get Caleb fed and ready for church while Holly gets ready. But after a long day outside on Saturday and a couple days of battling a cold, I was pretty exhausted. Needless to say, none of us rolled out of bed until about 8:15, making it a rather hectic morning. After getting Caleb dropped off in the nursery, we made it into the back of the worship center about 20 minutes late.

When we finally got settled in, my heart was focused on anything but the worship service. My OCD-ridden brain was going a million different directions.

“Did I prepare enough for this morning’s lesson? What do I do if it runs short?”
“Did I lock the car?”
“Is Caleb doing alright in his class?”
“Will my Fantasy Football team win this week?”

Before I knew it, we were praying and the music was over. Our guest preacher was doing a phenomenal job but my mind was still reeling. While I’d love to say this was a special circumstance, it really wasn’t. Any parent will tell you that getting your kids out the door on a Sunday morning is enough to drive even the sanest person crazy. On top of that, it’s hard for me not to think ahead to Monday and think through the to-do list waiting for me in the office. My guess is that I’m not alone either.

If you come from a High-Church tradition, it’s easy to go through the motions. If you’re in a more contemporary or charismatic service, it’s just as easy to become overly relaxed and lose reverence for what you’re there to do. The reality is that our busy, boundary-less world makes it difficult to focus on the task in front of us and when we come into a time of dedicated corporate worship, it’s no exception. As a result, we develop the habit of looking like we’re worshiping while our hearts are given to something else.

I love Isaiah’s reaction to his encounter with God. After seeing the Temple overcome with God’s glory and angels crying out his holiness, he responds, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts (Isaiah 6:10)!”

After experiencing God’s glory on display, he is moved to a sense of awe that leads to a point of confession. He is so blown away by what he is seeing and hearing that he is afraid. When we truly contemplate the magnitude of God’s holiness, we become increasingly aware of our depravity.

The same thing happens in Nehemiah when Ezra reads the Law to the people for the first time. As they hear about who God really is and what a relationship with him looks like, they are completely broken. Ezra reminds them, “’This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law (Neh. 8:9).”

How often do we actually worship God in such a way that we truly appreciate his glory and come to terms with our sin? For me, it honestly doesn’t happen often enough. When I was in high school, it was just the thing that happened on the Thursday night at camp or the Saturday night of a D-Now. Today, it usually just happens at ministry conferences or in special moments in the car. Sunday mornings and other corporate gatherings mostly just sail right by me.

So how do we refocus so our worship is actually God-honoring?

1. Prepare your heart.

The church I attended in college had a special time at the beginning of the service where the entire congregation would sit in a few moments of silence. It was designed to act as a buffer between the hurried reality of getting to church and the time of worship that follows. We called it “centering.” It was a chance to pray and meditate so that our minds and hearts were focused.

Before you go into the service, take some time to be silent for a few moments. Get alone if you have to and dedicate the next few hours to him.

2. Confess

I love that when people truly encounter God, they are moved to both fear and confession. What attitudes are holding you back from truly recognizing him as Lord in your life? Who are you struggling to forgive? Where are you lacking true integrity? Have you simply lost sight of who He really is?

Make it a habit of bringing these things to Christ, not for your salvation but for the strength of your relationship with him. If I apologize to Holly, it’s not so she won’t divorce me. I do so to strengthen the unbreakable bonds we already share.

3. Make worship a lifestyle.

Worship isn’t an event on Sundays. It’s a lifestyle. We are always honoring and glorifying someone or something. Make the worship of Christ a daily commitment and let these corporate times of worship become an outward expression of what is ongoing in your life.

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  • Justin

    well stated. simple and to the point. as a worship pastor, i have to lead this concept weekly and also live it myself.