Preparation for Worship: When Your Heart is Overwhelmed

“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Psalm 61:1-2

We all know what it feels like to have an overwhelmed heart. No matter what stage of life we are in, it seems like the responsibilities and the busyness never end. What is it that overwhelms you? Is it the interactions you have with others? Is it all the homework you have? The papers and assignments? Is it your coworkers who leave extra work for you to do? Maybe there isn’t one particular thing in your life that sticks out as overwhelming, yet your heart still feels weighed down at times. I have been there, too. At these times, we feel far from God. We feel like we are drowning in a sea of worry and chaos and that God has abandoned us. We feel the cares of this world pressing in on our hearts.

David knew what it was like to feel distant from God, just like we do at times. In Psalm 62 he is crying out to God and asking to be led to “the rock that is higher than I.” This rock is Jesus Christ, as stated earlier in Psalm 18:2a, where David writes, “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer.” Jesus Christ is strong and safe. He is as unchangeable and firm as a rock or fortress. He is higher than we are, knowing our hearts and knowing what is good for us. 

“For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.”

Psalm 61:3-4

Where do we desire to go when we feel like we are at the ends of the earth? We desire to run to the shelter of Jesus Christ! We want to look up to Him, being assured of our salvation and that He is working everything for our good. We want Him to comfort our hearts so that we feel safe and loved rather than overwhelmed. The good news is that this is exactly what God does for His people. In sending His Holy Spirit into our hearts, we are led to see our weaknesses and our need for Christ. We then see what Christ has done for us on the cross and rest in the joy and peace of our salvation. Christ truly is our shelter and strong tower! We are safe in His wings no matter what we face each day.

This Saturday, I encourage you to meditate on Psalm 61 as you look forward to the Sabbath. Sure, the cares and worries of this work week may have your heart feeling a bit weary, but God knew what He was doing when He gave us a day of rest. Sunday is given to be a day full of spiritual renewal as we go to church and meditate on God’s Word. We look forward to enjoying a whole day set aside for not feeling overwhelmed. God hears our cries from the ends of the earth. He leads us out of the pit of an overwhelmed heart into the strong tower that is Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Madelyn Monsma

Pray Without Ceasing

In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle gives the members of the church instruction concerning their lives as children of the light. One particular command is “Pray without ceasing.”

What does this mean? How can we do this?  The Bible also commands, “6 days shalt thou labor and do all thy work…” How can we work or play and still continually pray?

Did you pray while you drove to school this morning? It says “without ceasing.”  That’s what it means right? Not ceasing, not stopping.  Why must we pray without ceasing?   Prayer is the chief part of all thankfulness. It is conversation with God. Talking to Him.

When we pray, we often ask God for guidance dealing with family problems, accidents, trials, and temptations. We ask Him for this and that, but is that the only time we pray to Him? When we need something? If this is the case all we are doing is making Him our servant.

Praying without ceasing does not mean that we always have to have our heads bowed and hands folded. Instead it means we must live consciously in the knowledge that God is with us and is always watching over us in everything that happens in our lives. We can pray to God whenever we are driving, sitting in a class, or at any other point in the day.

Another way that we pray to our Father is through the Psalms and hymns that we sing. When we sing of or listen to praises of His majesty we are praying to Him. Praising Him in song is praying to Him. If we are listening to the music of this world we are in no way praising Him or giving any glory to Him.

When we are with our family or friends it can be considered “awkward silence” when we are not having conversation with them. Is this the way it is with our God too? He is continually with us, our Father in Heaven, our Elder Brother, who is closer to us than our families. We should never have “awkward silence” with Him. We should always be talking to Him. We should constantly talk to Him whether we consider things to be going well or whether we consider them to be going bad.

Psalter number 203 reminds us that our conversation and communion with God is sweet when we seek His face, and also that living apart from Him is death. We are strengthened in our walk when we continually have conversation with God by praying without ceasing.

Kelly Lubbers and Collin Van Overloop

Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord

“All men on earth that live,

To God all glory give,

Praise ye the Lord;

His lovingkindness bless.

His constant faithfulness

And changeless truth confess;

Praise ye the Lord.

Here are the lyrics from Psalter #316, the shortest song in the Psalter. It makes sense that this is the shortest song in the Psalter since it’s taken from Psalm 117, which we all know is the shortest chapter in the bible. We used this Psalter number for a period of time as a doxology at our church here in Wingham, and it was very wonderful to be able to sing these words together as a congregation. Singing is enjoyable. People all around the world use singing as entertainment and it plays a significant part of our lives. We Christians have been given singing as a gift. Not just any gift, but a special gift from the Lord. Tomorrow is Sunday, and once again we will find ourselves in the house of the Lord using our gift of song to sing praises to him.

Singing shows and expresses the joy in our hearts. Hearts that sing are joyful! Singing also spreads joy. Think back to a time where you spent an evening singing to those in hospitals or retirement homes. Those times were times well spent. Although perhaps somewhat awkward to a group of teenagers at the time, I’m sure we all underestimate the amount of joy that the audience received. The blend of the holy words and the beautiful melodies is sure to arouse and spread joy! Joyful hearts sing. Singing gives birth to joy, and joy gives birth to singing.

“Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms” (Js. 5:13).

Singing is a good thing! David speaks about singing several times in the Psalms, and he repeatedly expresses that he will sing praises to his Lord. We do well to follow in David’s footsteps and dedicated times in our lives to lift up our voices towards heaven. “Sing aloud unto God our strength.” “I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee.” These familiar passages should always be a reminder to us of the importance of act of worship.

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto they name, O most High…” (Ps. 92:1).

Why did Paul and Silas sing? They sang for strength while they were afflicted. Perhaps a time will come when we are afflicted. Will we remember the songs we sang from our youth every Sunday during worship? Singing is not filler during a worship service. It is not something used to break up the time of sitting in silence. God commands us to sing, and we must use this precious gift of congregation singing and hold it dear to our hearts. We don’t use singing as a mean to impress God. We also don’t use singing as a way to express our emotions and feelings. The wonderful songs that we sing every Sunday are sure to be a comfort to our souls, but more importantly, they should be sang wholeheartedly as giving glory to God. How beautiful it must be to God’s “ears” to hear his chosen people join together in song, singing of his glory. When we raise our voices together as a congregation on Sunday morning, we’re joining our voices with Christians all over the world. It’s not just our voices echoing around the walls of our sanctuary, but voices echoing across the world making a joyful noise to our Lord and King.

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord; all the earth; make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise” (Ps. 98:4).

Singing has a special way of bringing the heart, soul, mind, and congregation together. May we all be blessed tomorrow with the preaching of thy word, and thy wonderful gift of song. Singing matters, and it matters that we do it together.

Averly Kikkert