A Blueprint For Worship
“O God in Zion, we wait before you in silent praise, and thus fulfill our vow. How greatly to be envied are those you have chosen to come and live with you within the holy tabernacle courts! What joys await us among all the good things there.” (Psalm 65:1, 4 LB)
It’s Sunday morning and the home of Jim and Janet Smith is a picture of bustling activity. Having gotten ready for church, they turn their attention to the needs of their three children—getting them showered, dressed and fed. Eventually, the family is making their harried drive to church. The scene at their house of worship is amazingly similar to home. Kids are running around the foyer, playing and frolicking. Women huddle together gabbing about their kids, while their husbands discuss the plight of their favorite sports team. The music emerging from the sanctuary brings the conversations to a forced conclusion and, having retrieved their children, they make their way to their seats.
Allow me to present for your consideration a typical Sunday morning service at Pure Life Ministries (PLM). The seventy or so men in the residential program are required to be in the sanctuary 15-60 minutes before the service begins. There they sit in absolute silence until the worship service begins. This routine is a wonderful discipline to men who have allowed their lives to spiral out of control to the point of engaging in illicit sexual behavior. To be required to resist the natural tendency to talk, joke and laugh before service is an entirely new discipline for these men.
While this restraint provides its own benefits, there are other reasons for this practice. First, there is a great gulf between singing hymns and choruses by rote and truly worshipping God from the heart. “God is spirit,” said Jesus, “and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) If we are going to go through the motions of worshipping God, we must do it in the Spirit (as opposed to the flesh) and in truth (as opposed to contrived and insincere devotion). Realistically, the only way such worship can take place is for a person to quiet himself; to subdue his flesh so that he can be properly prepared to offer sincere, godly worship to God.
Secondly, it is proper to approach the Most High God with a reverential attitude. I believe that one of the reasons sin is running rampant in the Church is that people have increasingly become familiar with holy things. It’s not uncommon anymore to hear the Lord spoken of disrespectfully, e.g. “Jesus is my bud!” How much better it is to approach God with the holy fear that befits the situation.
Having been in about a thousand such meetings at PLM, I can testify that when we begin to worship the Lord, it is real, it is meaningful and it is sincere. Visitors are amazed at how God’s presence is so tangible in the Pure Life chapel. Is it because we are better than others? No, I believe it simply because we approach the Lord with the respect He is due.
And how about you? Can you see how it would help your walk with God to quiet yourself before going to church? Perhaps you could commit yourself to approaching future worship times with a quiet spirit, a loving heart and a reverential attitude.