Pause Before Praise
I cradled my 5-month old in the nook of my arm. My left knee bounced furiously up and down. My eyes darted from one door in the hospital waiting room to another. It was 10:57 AM. For weeks this date had been on the calendar. February 14, 2017: the day we would meet the man who would cut open our baby girl and attempt to repair her heart. The appointment was slated for 11 AM. We had been advised to arrive early. Meeting the pediatric cardiovascular surgeon at All Children’s was a big deal.
Mentally we had prepared ourselves with various questions with which to pepper the good doctor. Emotionally we had steadied ourselves for the direct language related to the surgery that was to come. We had entered the cardiovascular waiting room at 10:40, a full 20 minutes ahead of time. In nearly every way imaginable we had prepared ourselves to meet the surgeon – because meeting, conversing with, learning from, seeing him work, and thanking him were all a huge deal.
As families pile in the car on Sunday mornings they should remind one another that they are not merely attending an event. Instead they are entering in once more to hail the King, observe the Creator, and hear from the saving Sovereign. Nothing is more important than meeting with Him.
Hopefully I’ve earned the right at least in my own church family to declare that the Creator of the universe and Savior of your soul deserves more than you floating into a worship gathering on Sunday morning with little thought to why you are there or Who you will be encountering. He deserves your preparation. He deserves your meditation, reflection, and confession. Just as we would arrive early and prepare ourselves for something important (like surgery) or something insignificant (like a sporting event), we should be driven – on a much deeper and far more significant level – to prepare our hearts to hear from and adore our God. One glance through Exodus 19 reinforces this reality.
What would it look like if you actually prayed with your family on the way to the worship gathering, asking the living Christ to stir your affections for Him? What might happen if you actually arrived 30 minutes before the gathering to mingle with friends and encourage the saints before striding into the worship room BEFORE the music begins to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare your heart for what will come? Far too often Christians walk from a worship gathering citing that the music wasn’t robust enough or the pastor engaging enough. Sadly, many of those believers souls are not stirred because they have ill-prepared for a Divine encounter. If a doctor, an employer, an athlete, or a teacher demands our preparation for and attention to, how much more does the eternal Lover of our souls deserve?
The prioritization of corporate worship is vital, but so to is our preparation for corporate worship. I long to see God stir through His people who are prepared and impassioned to encounter, worship, and herald Him.