Saturday night. Picture for a moment what you would typically be doing during that time. What are you doing? Most likely, you are either unwinding or catching up on work. If you are a sports fan, there is often a good football, basketball, baseball, or hockey game on television. Or maybe you are watching a movie, perhaps with a friend or loved one, happy to forget about life temporarily after a long, busy work week. Perhaps you are a college student and are still not done with work for the week due to other commitments on weekdays, so you are using that time to catch up on that homework assignment or class project which you have not started on. Regardless of what you picture yourself doing, ask yourself this question: on a Saturday night, how often does the thought of going to church tomorrow morning cross your mind? And if it does, are you joyful about this opportunity or do you begrudge it, perhaps even taking it for granted?
Oftentimes, you might find yourself guilty of not thinking about church until you are on your way there on Sunday morning. And sometimes, your heart may not even be joyful when you walk through the doors and sit in the pews for the church services. There can be many reasons why this is the case. Your heart may be overburdened by a trial or temptation God has chosen to place you in. Your mind might be looking ahead to the mountain of tasks that needs to be accomplished during the upcoming work week. You might feel tempted to use Sunday as an additional day for recreation. Whatever the reason may be, the biggest reason that connects all the previously mentioned reasons is distraction. Your heart is distracted, perhaps even bored. You think of church as a ritual, as simply something that you must engage in because you are commanded to do so by God’s Word.
What can prevent thinking this way? The answer lies within your heart! Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” If your heart is neither prepared nor joyful about worshipping God on the Sabbath Day, your mind soon follows. So how can you properly prepare your heart, especially on Saturday night, to worship God on the Sabbath day? Two things cross my mind on how to answer this question, and I hope that these thoughts can encourage you in your preparation for Sunday worship.
First, I can think of no better human example in the Bible than David in terms of having a joyful heart about worshipping God on the Sabbath Day. He says, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:14). David says in Psalm 100:3 that the reason for the joy in his heart for praising God on the Lord’s day is because, “It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves.” You also ought to be joyful because, as David mentions in that same verse, “We are [God’s] people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Why are you joyful? Because “this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death” (Psalm 48:14).
Second, think about what God has done for you in your life. Has He provided for your needs in an unexpected way? Has He lifted you up out of a fiery trial or temptation with which you thought was too heavy to bear? Or perhaps think more simply. Has God given you food to eat, clothes to wear, and a bed to sleep on every night? And even if you could not answer yes to any of those questions, did God not send His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for all your sins?
May you use these Biblical questions and meditations to prepare your heart for Sunday worship, especially on Saturday, the day before the Lord’s Day. It is only when your heart is prepared to worship God that you can truly say as you go to church on Sunday morning, “I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows. Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul” (Psalm 66:13, 16).