354. Come To Service 15 Minutes Early

354. Come To Service 15 Minutes Early

It looks like some of our members come to service after the praise starts. If it is occasional, it is understandable. But if it is habitual, it is not only a bad testimony to others but it could be a reason why it feels difficult to experience God in worship.

There could be a few reasons for coming late. The first reason could be unconsciously treating the praise time as an opening for the sermon, as people are rarely late for a sermon. But praise is a critical part of worship. Praise not only opens up our heart to hear God’s word, but it is the main way to experience and feel the presence of God. (Psa 22:3) In fact, once we are in heaven, there will be no more sermons, but praise will continue. (Rev 7:9)

The second reason could be simply a habit. Once coming late becomes a routine, unless there is a significant change, arrival time would remain similar. If the second reason is the case, I would recommend trying to arrive 15 minutes early, instead of on time. That will not only give some margin, but also be helpful in breaking out of that habit.

The most important reason to come early to service is, we need time to prepare our heart before worship begins. We are living in a very superficial, sensory-driven world, and our mind is never stopping. It is easy to carry that chaos into worship, and walk away unchanged, without experiencing the peace that God gives.

I pray for our Sunday service during weekdays but praying before service is special. I remember a few months ago, I began to feel a bit anxious before the service because I felt the sermon I prepared wasn’t strong enough. That’s when a prayer popped up in my head: “Help our congregation to experience not my inadequacy, but your sufficiency.” I knew this prayer was from God, as making this prayer calmed my heart and ready for worship. Time to time, I keep making this prayer before the service.

So, when it is 5–10 minutes before the service starts, consider preparing your heart for the worship, through prayer and stillness, to heightened your awareness of God. Trust in his promise, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…” (James 4:8 CSB)