Worship: Preparation

Worship is not a discussion about God. It is communion with God.
Worship is not a lecture on God. Worship is fellowship with God.
Worship is not merely an entertaining celebration of God.
Worship is personally and communally connecting with God.

Leafblad, Music in Worship, Part 2

Did you ever memorize Hosea 6:6? “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” God wants to meet with us, to commune with us.

Moses set an early example of communing with God (at God’s initiative) in Exodus 25:21-22. In this passage, God gives specific details about the design of the Tabernacle: materials, placement, dimensions, colors, etc. It almost sounds like a show on HGTV. Then, right in the middle of the details, God essentially makes a side comment. In vv. 21-22, God gives Moses a why. God tells Moses this is important because this is where we will meet. This is where we will talk with each other as a man communes with a friend. This is important. This isour place. In those two verses, the entire discussion of all those dry details becomes very personal.

When was the last time you truly communed with a friend? It takes time to commune. This is not a quick call or a text message. The word “commune” has much greater depth and nuance than merely talking. Communing implies an intimate relationship.

As B. H. Leafblad says, “In this context [commune] means conversation on the deepest level where there is chemistry and connection. This is the conversation we know as worship. Worship is not a monologue; it’s a dialogue. If it is not a dialogue, it is not authentic worship. Worship is communion with God.”

Now read Exodus 33:7-11. As Moses went to the tabernacle, the entire camp realized the importance of his meeting and communing with God. They stood in the openings of their tents and followed Moses with their eyes, reverently watching him as he walked to the tent of meeting—probably preparing their hearts for what was to come. As Moses entered the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended to the door of the tent. While Moses talked and communed with God, all the people rose and worshiped God. They understood the importance and implications of Moses meeting, personally and literally, with God.

This is worship in spirit and in truth. In R. E. Webber’s book Worship is a Verb, I was struck by his subtle word choice. I went back and reread many of the beginning pages, where I discovered his continuous reference to prayer. Over and over, he mentions praying before worship, praying before worship planning, going to God in prayer, preparing your heart with prayer, etc. He says, “Prayer sensitizes us to the true meaning of worship. The person who spends time within the divine circle of companionship never enters the hour of worship without being sensitive to what can occur there.”

How do we prepare for our times of worship? Is it by choosing which outfit to wear, picking the right shoes, deciding which car to drive, deciding where and with whom we will eat lunch? None of these are bad decisions in and of themselves. They are all choices that need to be made. The problem occurs when this is the extent of our preparation. We need to prepare for worship by preparing our hearts with prayer, knowing we are meeting the Most High God and expecting to commune with God.

Sources
  • Leafblad, B. H.  Music in Worship, Part 2. Wilmore, Kentucky: Asbury Theological Seminary. Retrieved from http://place.asburyseminary.edu/ecommonsatschapelservices/3241/, 2011.
  • J. Hayford, J. Killinger and H. Stevenson, Mastering Worship. (Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 1990), 17.
  • Webber, R. E.  Worship is a Verb: Eight Principles for Transforming Worship, 2d ed. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1995.

Myron Douglas is minister of Education at First Baptist Church of Columbus, Georgia. Previously he has served FBC as Minister to Children and a sister church in Columbus as Minister of Music. He is a graduate of Wingate University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Myron sings with a professional chorus, Cantus Columbus. He and his wife Babbs reside in Columbus and have two grown children who live out of state.

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