Next time you come to church, take a few minutes and read Psalm 105, especially verses 1-6 and use it to prepare for worship. This is a very instructive Psalm about what is necessary to worship well.
Psalm 105:1 “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
4 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!” ESV
First, we must “give thanks” (v. 1a). An ungrateful heart is most clearly a sin (Romans 1:21) and dishonoring to God. We must come into worship understanding that all we have is from God, all physical and spiritual gifts come from him, all that is good in our lives and in the universe find their source in God, the fount of all blessings. We must come to God with grateful, thankful hearts.
Second, we are to “call upon his name”. In large part, our worship is again and again calling upon the name of the Lord. We continually come as recipient, and never giver. What we have, we have been given. What we give is a gifted response. Do you want to give more? Then call upon his name, asking that he would give you more to give back!
Third, we “make known his deeds among the peoples”. This is a somewhat new concept for me, but what this psalm makes clear is that there is an evangelistic component to our worship. This is not the goal (God’s glory is the goal), but it is certainly a byproduct of genuine, passionate, God centered worship. In our worship, we are telling of the mighty deeds of God on behalf of his people, and we tell them not just to each other, but to the peoples.
Fourth, we are called to “sing to him, sing praise to him”. Have you ever just sat or stood there, not participating in the worship? Do you realize that is disobedience?! We are commanded to sing. Singing not your thing? It is now! We cannot be spectators in worship, but are called to lift our voices and sing praises to our great God.
Fifth, again we are called to “tell of all his wondrous works”. We are to worship God for who he AND what He has done.
Sixth, we are to “Glory in his name”. “His name” is another way of saying “who he is”. In the Bible, someone’s name was more than just a way of identifying them – it was a summary of who they were. This is particularly true of God. We are told to glory, or exult and rejoice in his name. Our boasting is about who God is!
Seventh, we are commanded to let our hearts rejoice! Consider this – there is no such thing as unhappy praise. It is an oxymoron, a contradiction. You can not sit back and glumly sing God’s praises. If you do, it is hypocrisy, not worship. You can not stand and sing “you’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me” if you don’t mean it and aren’t consumed by joy at the thought of it!
Eighth, (this is getting kinda long, huh), we are told to “Seek the Lord”. This is so essential in worship. If we go through all the motions but God isn’t present, if we do not experience him anew, what is the point. In fact, our worship springs from joy in the revelation of God. To worship, we must know God. So to go deeper into worship, we must seek to know him more (not just about him, but to know him in relationship). Now there will be times where God seems distant, but we cannot allow ourselves to be content with this anymore than we would allow ourselves to be content with a distant relationship with our wives. We must continually seek a deeper relationship with God.
Finally, we must remember. How much joy do we forfeit simply because we do not take time to remember all that God has done for us? Remembering is a major theme in the Bible. The Israelites set up altars to remember. God told the people to pass on to their children all that God had done for them so that his deeds would be remembered. We celebrate the Lord’s Supper to remember what God has done on the cross (it is shocking that we would ever forget this, but God knows how fickle and short of memory we are). Remember.
Hope this is helpful as we strive to be a deep worshipping community.