I go to worship every weekend, but if I’m honest I struggle with “preparing my heart” to worship. I have to guard against church becoming just another thing that I do, rather than I meaningful connection with my Heavenly Father.
I figured that I wasn’t the only one with this problem, so I began a search to see what a more heart-felt approach to going to church would look like.
What does the Bible say about preparation?
And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
God instructed Moses to get the Israelites ready to encounter the Lord.
When I go to church, I am doing exactly that, I'm encountering God. I lift up praises to Him, I hear an exhortation from the Bible, I remember Jesus’ sacrifice for sins, I connect to brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
But if I neglect to prepare my heart for what is about to happen, I’m subtlely placing an obstacle of routine between God and myself.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Here is a promise from God to the Israelites at one of their lowest points as a nation. You and I will find God when we seek Him with all our heart.
I’m so busy to prepare for anything!
The other day, I got a text from my friend asking me if I wanted to go to this cajun restaurant in town. We’d been talking about it a couple times, so when sent me the text, I knew it was time to make it happen. I asked him if he wanted to go later that evening or the next night. He and I both made arrangements and we were both mowing down on jumbalaya that evening.
Every week we all have the same ammount of time, 168 hours or 10,080 minutes. And if you’re anything like me, you find yourself incredibly busy moving from one thing to the next and then kind of whirrring down at night only to jump up frantically in the morning and start the whole cycle over again.
If something’s important enough, we’ll find a way to make it happen.
So, here are some ways to prepare your heart to encounter God at church each weekend.
1 - Begin the night before.
When I first began distance running, I was going early in the morning to get my run in for the day. So, the night before I laid out my clothes and I set multiple alarms to remove any obstacle between me and getting up to run.
How can I minimize the decisions that I have to make before I go to church?
2 - Focus on one passage of Scripture.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Psalm 139.
I particularly love the last couple verses of the Psalm:
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
I also like the Topical Memory System of Bible Verses to focus and study and memorize. These verses focus on the promises of God, the character of God, and our response to God.
What is one passage of Scripture that you can focus on while you get ready to go to church?
3 - Pray seeking prayers.
When I’m praying a “seeking” prayer:
I’m telling God that my heart is open to listen.
I’m asking for forgiveness for anything that I’ve done to run from God in any area of my life.
I’m asking God to open my eyes to see what He will be saying to me while I’m at church.
I’m seeking direction from God for the next week of life and how I can follow Him better.
What will you say to God in prayer to seek Him before going to church?
All together, this process takes probably an hour, but It isn’t done in one time block.
It’s usually 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there.
Also, this is a process that helps me prepare my heart each day. If I forget to do it in the morning, I’ll try to do it on my lunch break, so I’m ready to take on the afternoon. Really, the only way to fail is to do nothing.
So, let’s get started: Pick one scripture and focus on that. Once you’ve picked it out, share it in the comments.