It is once again time to prepare our hearts for worship. One way that we prepare for worship is prayer. I think prayer is absolutely essential in preparing our hearts for worship. Maybe you have had a long, discouraging week. Maybe you don’t even feel like praying because this week has been difficult or frustrating. The great Scottish pastor of the 1800’s Robert Murray M’Cheyne says that if we are feeling sad or frustrated we should: “Go and tell Jesus; spread out your sorrows at his feet. He knows them all; feels for you in them all.” So, maybe we just come to God in prayer and say: “Father I am feeling discouraged, I am feeling stressed out with work, or school, or whatever it may be.” We should just pour out our hearts to God. J.C. Ryle says: “Fear not because your prayer is stammering, your words feeble, and your language poor. Jesus can understand you.” So, let’s just pour our hearts out to God in prayer. Just be transparent with the Lord in prayer. My brother Mark uses the illustration of a dirty cup of water. We have this dirty cup of water which is our sadness, or discouragement, and our sin. We take this dirty cup and we just pour it out to God in prayer. Then we take the crystal clear water of the promises of God and the glorious gospel and we pour that back into our souls.
In Lamentations 3 we see something like this. The author says: “my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;” He goes on: “My soul continually…is bowed down within me.” This is the dirty cup of water. Then here comes the crystal clear water of the promises of God. In verses 21-24 of chapter 3 he says: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” So, let’s start preparing for worship by just going to God in prayer and pouring out our dirty cup of water, and then begin to pour the fresh water of the gospel and the promises of God into our souls.
Jordan Kauflin says: “How we prepare for our Sunday gatherings is directly related to how much we benefit from our time together.” He goes on to say that we should prepare to receive. “Every time we gather as a church, God will speak to us as his word is preached, sung, read, and studied. Hearing from God is a weighty and glorious thing. Just read Exodus 19–20. To see God for who he is, to be overwhelmed by his greatness and holiness, to experience his presence, to see his boundless love and mercy, to encounter what should make our hearts tremble. Through Jesus, we can boldly come and receive (Hebrews 10:19–22), but confidence does not equal casualness. Prepare by asking God to help you receive his revelation with gratefulness and humility.” So, let’s ask God to stir up our affections for Him, and let’s pray for Ian, Jerry, and Mark who will be leading us in worship. The last thing I will mention before I get to the text is something I read recently from Paul Tripp. This is something that I think is helpful as we prepare to worship. Tripp says: “Worship is designed to remind you that in the center of all things is a glorious and gracious King, and this king is not you.”
Mark will be preaching through portions of Genesis 10-12. I am including Genesis 12:1-9 below:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.
Picture from here