It is once again time for us to prepare our hearts for worship. Author and long time pastor R. Kent Hughes says: “If I have learned anything in leading worship after twenty-five years in the ministry, I have learned that worship does not just ‘happen.’ Worship requires careful preparation on the part of the ministers and congregations.” So, before we get to North Avenue Church tomorrow afternoon we all need to do some ‘careful preparation.’ If you don’t know where to start, just start with prayer. Kent Hughes says: “Spiritually, prayer about the Lord’s Day is essential—prayer for the service, the music, the pastors, one’s family, and oneself.” So, let’s all spend time in prayer today and tomorrow for the service. Let’s pray for Ian and Erin as they lead us in worship. If you are wondering how specifically to pray for them, here is a sample prayer that may help us. This prayer was written by Tim Challies, but has a few alterations in it:
“Our gracious God and Father. I approach Your throne today, knowing that it is only through the name of Jesus that I can stand before You. I thank and praise You for Your goodness in allowing me to do so. I recognize very well that I am unworthy of this honor, this privilege, apart from Your unmerited favor and grace. I come before You to seek Your blessing on the service on Sunday.
Be with Ian and Erin as they lead us in worship. Be near to them as they sing and play instruments. Grant that in all things they may seek to serve You. May songs be selected that will bring glory and honor to Your name. May they lead us in singing songs that celebrate the beauty of the Savior and sing of Your wonders, Your glory, Your triumphs, Your holiness, Your majesty and Your great gospel. Let everything that has breath in North Avenue praise the Lord together. May our worship be a sweet and fragrant offering to You. Accept it Lord, though we know it is poor and imperfect. Accept it through Your grace.”
Let’s pray for Jerry who will lead us in a time of confession and let’s pray for Mark who will open up God’s Word to us. Here is another sample prayer that may help us pray for both Mark and Jerry. Again this is from Tim Challies, but I have altered it a little bit:
“Be with Jerry and Mark as they prepare to open up Your Word on Sunday. Grant that their time of preparation will be fruitful and that You will stir their hearts with the great news of the gospel, of the precious truth of justification by grace alone through faith in Christ alone, all to the glory of God alone. May all of us at our Church live in the power of this gospel always. Protect us from the devils lies and help us to never be bored by the wonderful doctrines of grace, but grant that they may be the joy and delight of our hearts. Open our eyes Lord to see just how Your glorious gospel affects each and every area of our lives. Grant that Mark may preach with great power and passion on Sunday afternoon. May the preaching be God centered, cross centered and gospel centered.”
Let us also pray for ourselves as well. Here again is another sample from Challies on how to do this:
“Be with me Lord. Prepare my own heart for Sunday afternoon when You speak to us as Your people. I confess that already my heart is polluted with sin. As I think about worshiping You, already I wonder how other men may perceive me. Already I sin against you. Extend Your gracious forgiveness to me that I may come before You with a clean heart. Renew a right spirit within me. Keep the truth ever before me that to obey is better than sacrifice. Help me to be obedient to You in all things. Fill me with Your Spirit. Grant that I may serve You by serving others.
Grant traveling mercies as men and women, boys and girls come to our Church on Sunday. Keep us safe this week and as we gather together in Your name.
We pray for peace and unity while we gather together. We ask that there will be mercy and understanding. We ask that there will be a great outpouring of your Spirit. We ask that you will bless us for the sake of the glory of Your great name.
I ask these things humbly and in the name that is above all names, the Lord Jesus Christ. Grant that I may be expectant and observant in seeking answers to this prayer so that I may praise You for Your goodness. May we all seek Your presence and glory in it together as we worship You this week.”
Mark will be looking at Genesis 25. The link to the ESV text is below:
Picture from here