In order to both offer God the most and receive the most on Sundays, it’s important that we prepare our hearts. For Christians, Sundays ought to be special. Why? Because it’s a day in which we gather with God’s people with a heightened sense of who He is. We offer sacrifices of praise, fellowship, bible study, prayer and Table. Nevertheless, I’ve seen people go for years (even a lifetime) without understanding why Sundays matter.
I’m also aware of the current deemphasis on Sundays as the end-all, be-all of church and am generally supportive of it. However, I’ve also found that in our efforts to do so, we seldom raise the rest of the week to the heights of Sunday. We more often lower Sunday to the duldrums of Monday and congratulate ourselves for our “Romans 12 lifestyle,” when in reality there is little resembling such. In the past I’ve likened this to a man who forgets or minimizes his anniversary in an effort to say how much he loves his wife the rest of the year.
I’ve learned over the years that what I offer and what I receive have something to do with how I prepare myself for Sundays. It’s not because “it’s all up to me” or that I can manufacture worship by my own hand. It’s because worship is about God and my offering’s aroma before God has to do with whether I have put other gods before Him. So, I’ve learned that preparing my heart to offer God and His people my best makes a real difference. Here are five ways I try to prepare my heart for Sundays. I hope you’ll try them or come up with your own. God is worthy of it.
1. Go to bed by 11pm on Saturday nights. 10 is even better. I know this is anathema to teens, college students, and young adults in particular. But, the person who goes to bed at 1 or 2 in the morning will be lethargic, sleep through the sermon, be disengaged, or cranky. They will view worship as dull and more of a nuisance…not because it actually is…but because they have helped make it so with poor self-management. For those that worship on Saturday or Sunday nights (like New Vintage Church), don’t show up hungry or wasted after a long day of physical exertion. Don’t make plans that start 5 minutes after worship is over.
2. Give. It’s the oldest form of worship…going back to Cain and Abel. Money remains the chief rival to God in the lives of most people. View it as part of your worship…like your attendance, your fellowship, and your praise. Say with your offering that Jesus, not money, is Lord, and that you support your church more than Starbucks. Ask those who give regularly and they will usually tell you it adds meaning to their walk with God.
3. Arrive on time (or earlier), leave late. Many people come late and leave as soon as the final “amen” is said. There’s no way to feel part of a church without getting to know the people. I’ve known some people who show up as worship is starting, stay outside to talk until sermon or communion time, then go back outside to talk and leave when the service is over. Hmmm… Treat worship on Sundays as a fine dinner. Get there early (or at least on time), and be one of the last ones to leave. See if it doesn’t bless you.
4. Deal with outlying conflict with other Christians before Sunday. If you don’t, Jesus said it will impact your sacrifice before God. It will also make Sunday about seeing that person, not about seeing God and worshipping Him. God cherishes the unity of His people. Offer that to Him on Sundays.
5. Keep Jesus and His church at the center of your life in general. When the church comes in fourth behind soccer, concerts, the NFL, and other things, it will impact your worship because God isn’t on the throne of your life in general. As an aside, this will also send your kids the message that God doesn’t come first…He comes fourth. If you put God fourth, don’t be surprised if your kids don’t value the youth group, care a whole lot what the Bible says, or struggle later in life struggle to put God first.
Are there others you would add?