Worship is critical to exercising ourselves unto Godliness. Below are a few simple exercises that are designed to help you explore this important Discipline of the Spiritual Life.

Learn to practice the presence of God daily. 

With Brother Lawrence, let us sense the presence of God with as great a reality when washing pots and pans” as when receiving the holy Eucharist. We can follow Paul’s words, Pray without ceasing,” by punctuating every moment with inward whisperings of adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. We can schedule personal times of inner worship and confession and attentiveness to Christ, our present Teacher. Doing this heightens our expectancy in public worship, because the gathered experience becomes a continuation and intensification of what we have been trying to do all week long. Have many different experiences of worship. Personally, individually we can learn to worship God. Little home groups can meet not just for Bible study, but for the very experience of worship itself. Gather little groups of two and three and learn to wait upon God, learn the experience of prayer. Many things can happen in smaller gatherings that cannot happen in a larger group because of sheer size. If possible, visit church traditions other than your own and experience the different approaches to worship: their strengths and weaknesses. All of these experiences of worship will empower and enkindle the Sunday gatherings in your home church.

Find ways to prepare for the gathered experience of worship. 

You may want to prepare for Sunday worship: by going to bed early on Saturday night; by having an experience of examination and confession; by going over hymns and Scriptures that will be used on Sunday; by gathering before the worship service begins to pray that God’s presence will fill the room; by letting go of inward distractions so that you can be genuinely present.

Be willing to be gathered in the power of the Lord. 

Learn to let go of your personal agenda, of individual concerns, of a special need to be blessed, of hearing the word of God. The language of the gathered fellowship is not I” but we.” There is submission to the ways of God. There is submission to one another in the Christian fellowship. There is submission for the good of everybody. There is a desire for God’s life to rise up in the group, not just the individual. If I pray for spiritual gifts, they are made manifest not just to me but to any person in the group or upon the group as a whole if that would please God. We become of one mind, of one accord. We are gathered.

Cultivate a holy dependency, a holy expectancy, and a holy obedience. 

In worship, a holy dependency says that we are utterly and completely dependent upon God’s touch for anything significant to happen. There is inward travail and inward struggle that we might be truly dependent, that the evil will weaken, that the good will rise up. Within the group, a holy expectancy looks forward to God moving and acting and teaching and wooing and winning. For everyone, a holy obedience is a determination to do whatever Christ tells us to do. If he urges us to speak or to teach or to give a witness or a prophetic message, we are obedient. If we are to make confession, if we are to respond to what is happening, we do exactly what he says with a holy obedience that has been cultivated by years of experience.

Absorb distractions with gratitude. 

If there is noise or distraction, take it in and conquer it rather than fussing or fuming. If little children are running about, bless them. Thank God that they are alive and that they have energy. Maybe they’re a message from the Lord. When I’m preaching, I love to have little babies and children in the congregation because sometimes they are the only ones that appear alive! Become willing to relax with distractions. Learn to receive whatever happens in gathered worship as an experience from God instead of feeling that the service has to follow your agenda or that distractions somehow deter you from worshiping God.

Learn to offer a sacrifice of worship. 

Many times we don’t feel” like worshiping. Maybe we have had so many disappointing experiences in the past where the sense of God’s power is so low that we think it is hardly worth the time. People are not adequately prepared, and it is very, very discouraging. But we need to go anyway. We need to offer a sacrifice of worship. We need to be with the people of God and say, These are my people. As stiffnecked and hardhearted and sinful as they may be, I stand with them and together we come to God.” The Bible tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, and it does that because we are the Body of Christ together.

Originally published in Perspectives, 1997.

Text First Published October 1997