by Andy Hammond, Pastor of Worship & Media
"Be sure to pray for our church services this weekend!" It's a phrase we often hear from church members and church leaders as we approach Sunday week after week. And to be sure, yes, praying for our weekend church services is a very good thing.
But what do we pray for specifically? That the preacher would "do a good job," that the musicians wouldn't mess up, or that the offering would be as large as we need it to be to keep the lights on?
I'd like to submit a simple prayer that you can pray in preparation for our services each week as we gather around the Word of God and worship Him together:
"Almighty God, show us Christ."
It is around this prayer that Show Us Christ, a song our congregation has been singing for the last year and a half, was written and composed. You can listen below. (Music by Doug Plank, words by Doug Plank and Bob Kauflin, Sovereign Grace Music)
This is a well-written song that marries a meaningful text with a memorable, singable melody. The authors draw from the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-9) to describe our need for a work of God to prepare our hearts:
Prepare our hearts, O God,
Help us to receive.
Break the hard and stony ground,
Help our unbelief.
Plant Your Word down deep in us,
Cause it to bear fruit,
Open up our ears to hear,
Lead us in Your truth.
Matthew Henry puts it well:
"Let us look to the Lord, that by His new-creating grace our hearts may become good ground, and that the good seed of the Word may produce in our lives those words and works which are through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God the Father."
The refrain of this song is our corporate prayer, simple and clear:
Show us Christ, show us Christ!
O God, reveal Your glory through the preaching of Your Word
Until every heart confesses Christ is Lord.
We don't need the latest self-help pop-psychology. We need Jesus. Through the inerrant Word that proclaims His majesty from cover to cover, we need to behold the glory of God in Jesus Christ. It is only through the Son that we have forgiveness and reconciliation, and it is only by gazing upon Him that we lose our taste for sin.
Jesus is the image of the invisible God and the head of the church. In Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things (Colossians 1:15, 18-20). It is to His great name that one day every knee will bow and tongue confess His lordship (Philippians 2:10-11). He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6).
He is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). That is why we join with Simon Peter in singing this truth, taken from John 6:68:
Where else can we go, Lord?
Where else can we go?
You have the words of eternal life!
So as you prepare your heart for worship Sunday, pray this prayer. As you step through the doors of the worship center this Sunday, pray this prayer. As we sing together, pray this prayer. As the Word is preached, pray this prayer. And as we humbly receive His Word as His people, let's allow the radiant light of Jesus to shine into our hearts and transform us according to His will.
"O God, show us Christ."