It is time once again to prepare our hearts for worship. 1st Samuel 16:7 says: “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I read that this week and was reminded again about the importance of preparing our hearts for worship. ‘The LORD looks on the heart.’ We do not prepare for worship by putting on a fake smile 5 seconds before we walk into the church building. If all we do is work on our outward appearance before attending worship, then we have failed to properly prepare our hearts for worship.
Matthew Henry comments on 1st Samuel 16:7 and says: “Men judge by the sight of the eyes, but God does not. The Lord looks on the heart, that is, (1.) He knows it. We can tell how men look, but he can tell what they are. Man looks on the eyes (so the original word is), and is pleased with the liveliness…that appear in them; but God looks on the heart, and sees the thoughts and intents of (the heart).” We are not fooling God one bit if we come to worship and only clean up our outward appearance and fail to work on our hearts. So, what do we need to do to prepare our hearts for worship?
There are lots of things that we need to do as we prepare our hearts for worship. Prayer and reading of God’s Word are absolutely essential as I have mentioned many times. Something that I thought about today though was that preparing for worship should be something that we do joyfully. Ligon Duncan said: “corporate worship is both our great privilege and responsibility, every…believer will want to prepare for it.” He goes on to say that: “gathering with God’s people to meet with God Almighty is a far greater privilege (than meeting a King or a President). Hence, Christians will joyfully and carefully and expectantly prepare for this.” We should be joyfully, carefully, and expectantly preparing to meet with God Almighty in corporate worship. We should never view church as a burden, but as a wonderful privilege that we get to participate in each week.
Ligon Duncan I thought was so helpful when he says this about how we should prepare Saturday night or Sunday morning for worship: “Reflect on and pray through the attributes of God. Consider what makes Him worthy of our worship. Consider yourself, and spend time in confession of sin. Pray that God would prepare your heart to hear the proclamation of His Word. We should pray for the ministers, and for those who will join us in worship. We should pray that God would be honored by the worship at (North Avenue Church), that the gospel would go forth powerfully, convicting and convincing sinners, and that the people of God would be built up and grown up in grace.”
When Ligon said to pray through the attributes of God, I thought I will try and mention one different attribute of God each week for several weeks as a way of helping us prepare for worship. The first one I will start with is God’s immensity. A.W. Tozer is helpful on this attribute of God. He says this: “We think that the sun is very large with its planets circling around it. But if you study astronomy—even elementary astronomy—you will learn that there are suns so large that each one could absorb our sun, all of its planets and all of the satellites that revolve around those planets into itself. They say that there are suns that are so large you could put millions of our suns into them…Then there is space.” He says that space is a way of accounting for different positions in the universe. “We call it distance…If it’s the moon they say 250,000 miles or if it’s the sun they say 93 million miles (away from earth). But after that they start talking in light years. They say that there are (stars) millions of light years away—say 10 million just to get a start. So if you want to know how far it is from earth to that (star) I’m talking about, you multiply 5 trillion, 862 billion, 484 million by 10 million. Doesn’t that stun you? It makes my head ache! Seen over against this, you and I are terrible small.
Then there is God. God has the attribute of immanence and immensity. God is immanent, which means you don’t have to go distances to find God…He is right here…God is above all things presiding, beneath all things sustaining, outside of all things embracing and inside all things filling. That is the immanence of God. God doesn’t travel to get anywhere. We may say in prayer, “Oh God, come and help us,” because we mean it in a psychological way. But actually God doesn’t have to “come” to help us because there isn’t any place where God is not.”
Psalm 139: 7-10 says: “Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.”
Let’s be sure to pray for the service tomorrow as well. Let’s pray for Ian and Erin as they lead us in worship. Let’s pray for Jerry as he leads us in a time of confession. Let’s also be sure and pray for Mark as he opens up God’s Word to us. Mark will be preaching on Genesis 45:16-46:34. The links to both chapter 45 and 46 of the ESV text are below.
Picture from here