How do you prepare to meet God? I don’t mean prepare to meet Him when you die, but prepare to meet with Him here on earth in your regular life. Or, do you ever give it thought?
I was in church Sunday morning and found myself thrown for a loop. Caught completely off-guard by a seemingly minor change in the church service. Traditionally, our church has always started service by standing and taking a moment of silent prayer. This Sunday, though, we didn’t do it. We still started with a prayer, but it was sitting down and it wasn’t silent. I was unexpectedly thrown off by this change and it took me half the service to shake it off and get my head focused back on why I was there.
Why did such a small change upset me so much? I’m usually the champion of changes and, at heart, I’m eager to see what God has planned for us next. So, why did this one small change throw off my morning?
It wasn’t really about the change, but rather about not being prepared for worship. Not taking the time to set apart this time to be with God. I’ve embraced the moment of silent prayer as a way to set the next hour apart for worship. I take a deep breath and ask God to separate me from the rest of the world for this one hour. To block out all the other voices of this world and let me hear Him. It’s my way to prepare and enter into worship.
And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. (Exodus 19:10-11)
When God went down to visit the Israelites in the desert, He told Moses to have the people prepare for His visit. God instructed them to consecrate themselves and wash before He came. God wanted the people to be prepared for a visit with the Holy One.
God wants us to prepare appropriately for meeting Him. This is not a casual meeting, but a holy encounter. God wants us to be consecrated; set aside and made ready for being in His presence.
The washing of the clothes was an act of purification and reverence. Just as we might make sure we’ve had a bath, washed our hair and put on our “Sunday best” to come to church, God asked the people of Israel to clean up before coming into His presence.
What “dirt” of the world do you need to wash away or leave behind so you can come before God with a humble and open heart?
Consecration was a way to prepare spiritually for the holy encounter. It’s a reference to abstaining from any indulgence that might take your heart and mind away from God.
From what personal indulgences do you need to abstain so you can fully commit your heart and mind to God?
On Sunday mornings, I prepare by putting away my to-do list and my phone, blocking out all the other thoughts and conversations running through my mind, setting aside all the issues and arguments and worries that seem to crowd my thoughts. I take a deep cleansing breath to ‘wash away’ the dirt of the world I brought in the door with me and then I open my heart to hear God.
How do you prepare for a Holy encounter? How do you prepare to meet God – during church, during your prayer time, on a retreat? In what ways can you wash off the “dirt” of the world and prepare spiritually for the encounter, so you can meet God with an open heart and mind?
I realized Sunday how crucial this preparation is for me and my time with God each week. I want to be expectantly ready to hear Him and encounter Him. I want to approach Him with a ready heart to accept His Word and be fully in His presence.
I’ll embrace this change, but will be looking for new ways to prepare my heart.
What about you?
“The first element in worship is adoration. The Hebrews expressed this by their posture
and not alone my their word. For they prostrated themselves before God. O come, let
us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. They did not come
with an easy familiarity into the presence of God, but were aware of his greatness and
majesty, and came with a sense of privilege to His house.” (H.H. Rowley “Worship in
Ancient Israel” p. 257)