Writer Don Hustad wrote a number of years ago about a circus parade that was moving through the streets of Milan, Italy. Suddenly one of the elephants veered from the line and marched into a church. [In Milan, church doors are large, and in the summer are often left wide open.] This visitor wandered up the center isle, swung her trunk around and headed back to the parade.
“Unfortunately,” wrote Hustad, “many humans seem to imitate this pious pachyderm. On Sunday morning we lurch into church, make a few noises, observe the congregation, then step out to resume our place in the parade. The great drama of worship is played out, but it us lost on us. We are elephants in the church!”
How then can and should we prepare ourselves, and particularly our hearts, for corporate worship? Here is an insightful comment on what it means to worship:
This is worship. It is to seek to give to God the glory which is due to his name. Indeed, the best biblical definition of worship I know is to “glory in his holy name” (Psalm 105:3), that is, to revel in the unique wonder of who he is and has revealed himself to be. If worship is right because God is worthy of it, it is also the best of all antidotes to our own self-centredness, the most effective way to “disinfect us of egotism,” as one writer put it long ago. In true worship we turn the searchlight of our mind and heart upon God and temporarily forget about our troublesome and usually intrusive selves. We marvel at the beauties and intricacies of God’s creation. We “survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died.” We are taken up with God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus taught us to do this in the Lord’s Prayer, whose first three sentences focus not on our needs but on his glory, on the honouring of his name, the spread of his kingdom and the doing of his will. Because we are normally so turned in on ourselves, we will not find this easy. But we have to persevere, since nothing is more right or more important. [John Stott]
As you prepare for worship this day, take a few minutes to read through Psalm 105 and notice the pattern of this passage:
- God’s right to be worshipped (vv. 1-7). Contemplate the reasons we are given that God deserved the worship of Israel, and why we should still worship Him today. What are His attributes that are deserving of worship?
- God’s action in history (vv. 8-44). What has God done in Israel’s history to demonstrate His sovereignty (and right to be worshipped)? Do you see and acknowledge His sovereign hand over every event in your life?
- God’s purpose for His sovereignty (v. 45). Here is the culmination of the psalm — the reason God demonstrated His sovereignty in such profound ways in Israel’s history was to bring them to a place where they would obey Him and praise Him. Do you respond to His sovereign activity in your life with worship and gratitude and praise?