Every Sunday, Christians gather to worship the God who gave them new life by the power of the Holy Spirit through the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross. Though these mini-Easter celebrations look different, the common idea is that we gather to focus on God, challenge our fellow believers to greater obedience to Christ, and provide a visible expression of the Universal Church. Unfortunately, many Christians approach worship services with a relaxed, lackadaisical attitude.
If we really believe that a church service is a time to meet with almighty God, to meet with the who knows every area of our hearts, even our deepest, darkest secrets, to be in the presence of the One who paid the ransom for our souls two thousand years before any of us were born, why would we ever take church services lightly? Too often, we act as though we can simply saunter into the presence of holy God. To be sure, the Bible does tell us to come boldly before God’s throne (Hebrews 4:16); however, not once does the Bible tell us to treat lightly a meeting with the Almighty. Given the gravity of what we believe takes place during a church service, we should all be certain to prepare our hearts to meet with God before we dare walk into a church on Sunday. Here are four simple but effective ways to prepare your heart to meet with God this Sunday.
1.Get up early.
This step isn’t overtly spiritual; instead, I advocate getting up early on a Sunday morning from a practical standpoint. If we get up early on Sunday mornings, we will have extra time to prepare our hearts for church while also leaving ourselves time to get dressed. The extra time will ensure that we don’t feel rushed during our morning at church.
2. Read the sermon’s scripture passage.
Here’s a secret: Preachers never cover everything during a Sunday morning service. Most Bible verses are so pregnant with meaning, that we have to prioritize. Reading the passage yourself will not only give you a point of reference during the morning sermon but will also help you see some additional details that your pastor won’t have time to cover.
While reading the passage, consider what the Bible is saying, what the passage means for Christians, and how you can obey it. During the sermon, your preacher will focus in on some of these details.
There are lots of people to pray for on Sunday mornings. First, pray for yourself. Pray that God would not pass you by that morning, but that he would meet with you. Pray David’s prayer over your morning at church: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Pray for your church’s visitors. It can be a scary thing to walk into a church unannounced. Many visitors don’t know what to expect, what to wear, where to sit, or how to act. Pray for them as God draws them, and then go out of your way to make them feel comfortable and at home.
Finally, pray for your pastor. The Bible teaches that the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18). When we preach, we know that we’re staring into the eyes of people who think us fools. Paul also says that when we minister, to one person “we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.” As if this wasn’t enough, Paul puts an exclamation point on it by asking rhetorically: “Who is equal to such a task?” Many people have the unfortunate habit of elevating preachers to demi-god status; however, preachers aren’t special people in themselves. They’re struggling to follow Christ in a hard, sin-wracked world just like everyone else. They feel how unworthy they are and they always wish they could do their job better. Most preachers love their congregations and would do anything for them. Pray for them as they have the responsibility of standing before a crowd, calling out sin, and challenging people to obedience to Christ.
4. Evaluate your priorities.
We’re all selfish, including me. Sometimes, our selfishness rears its ugly head. I’ve heard something along these lines more times than I can count in more churches than I’d like to admit: “I didn’t get anything out of the service.” That statement reveals a bad heart: It reveals a heart focused on self instead of one focused on God. You might not get anything out of the service. You might not like the music the church sings that morning. You might have thought the preaching was boring. While I hope that this doesn’t describe your Sunday morning, the fact is that we all have days like that. I don’t always care for every song we sing at church. Sometimes, I don’t feel like preaching. About half the time, I feel like we need a mercy rule to put my bad sermons out of their misery! That’s just human nature. What we must remember is that church isn’t about us. On Sunday mornings, take time to remind yourself that church is about worshipping God, even if you don’t always find it appealing.
Notes & Sources
 Psalm 139:23-24, all scripture quotations are NIV.
 2 Corinthians 2:16.