This week in Bible study I have been reading about the Discipline of Worship. The book I am reading as well as the accompanying study is Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. It is divided into 3 parts: The inward disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting and study; the outward disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission and service; and the corporate disciplines of confession, worship, guidance and celebration. This month I have done a personal study on Solitude, and a group study on Worship.
Here are some notes on Worship as written by Foster:
A striking feature of worship in the Bible is that people gathered in what we could only call a “holy expectancy.”. They believed they would actually hear the Kol Yahweh, the voice of God…As those early believers gathered they were keenly aware that the veil had been ripped in two, and, like Moses and Aaron, they were entering the Holy of Holies. No intermediaries were needed. They were coming into the awful, glorious, gracious presence of the living God. They gathered with anticipation, knowing that Christ was present among them and would teach them and touch them with his living power.
How do we cultivate this holy expectancy? It begins in us as we enter the Shekinah of the heart. While living our the demands of our day, we are filled with inward worship and adoration. We work and play and eat and sleep, yet we are listening, ever listening, to our Teacher. … Live throughout the week as an heir of the kingdom, listening for his voice, obeying his word. Since you have heard his voice throughout the week, you know that you will hear his voice as you gather for public worship.
Next, he suggests some practical ways to worship, and I paraphrase:
Avoid being rushed or harried as much as possible. Go to bed early the night before to be able to wake up early enough on Sunday to accommodate those issues with children, breakfast, cars, traffic, etc. Spend some time alone studying the sermon topic if you can (it is possible to get this information early from the church office).
Enter the service ten minutes early. Lift your heart in adoration to the King of glory. Contemplate his majesty, glory, and tenderness as revealed in Jesus Christ. Next, lift up the pastor and other worship leaders into the light of Christ. When people begin to enter the room, look for someone who needs your intercessory work and lift them up. Do you see someone who seems sad or shoulders are drooping? Pray for them all during the service. If only a few will do this it will deepen the worship of all! When we are truly gathered into worship, things occur that could never occur alone. There is a deep inward fellowship in the power of the Spirit when the people of God meet together in one mind or accord. (Phil. 3:15). “When more than one or two come into public worship with a holy expectancy, it can change the atmosphere of a room. The air becomes charged with expectancy.”
These are some ideas for you to ponder as you prepare for corporate worship each week. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who tried these ideas and any results or responses you have experienced. How is God manifesting Himself in your life through sincere worship of Him – either private or corporate? I will share my experiences with you in the coming weeks.