Christians have been taught through the ages to prepare for public worship with private prayer. This is a practice I try to follow and have taught my family to do the same (though I have my own trouble with prayer, too).
Preparing to enter worship with prayer reminds us of God’s unmerited kindness toward us in Christ, and our status before Him — that we have no inalienable right to expect His blessing. Rather, He invites us, of His free grace, to receive His blessing for Christ’s sake, not our own.
Therefore, we come before Him deeply aware of our need, deeply confident of His welcome, and deeply reverent of His majesty. And we should avoid treating prayer like magic.
This morning, I wrote this prayer of preparation in my journal. Perhaps, this Advent, it will help us prepare well privately, as we enter into public worship.
Oh, Holy One, Great I AM,
Merciful Father, Almighty God,
Have mercy on me, a sinner, a rebel, a transgressor,
With nothing to commend myself to You,
And nothing I could offer to benefit You.
In Christ’s name alone do I make bold
To approach You with this plea:
Have mercy on me and love me for His sake.
For, I am poor, broken, and hopeless.
Glorify your Name and Your Christ in Your grace toward me
As I worship you, my God and Father.
May we all learn to approach God with reverence and confidence, and better understand why God answers our prayers.