I’m not sure what your Sunday mornings before church are like, but I’m going to guess they aren’t always angelic. Because mine aren’t.
I would like to say they consist of a full two hours of sipping coffee and prayer journaling at my kitchen table, with morning sun and a vase full of roses nearby. Leftover quiche and plenty of time to spare to curl my hair.
Um, it’s not QUITE like that most of the time.
It reminds me of a song by Life Action called Sunday Mornin’ where a family bustles about the house finding socks and musing about what’s really on their minds. One daughter laments, “I hope he likes my outfit, ’cause I’m having a bad hair day!” One child crams to memorize the books of the Bible for Sunday School. The father wonders if the pastor, invited for lunch, will stay through the football game.
The chorus belts out, “We can’t wait to be in the House of the Lord!”
I echo that there is nothing like being in the House of the Lord with His people Sunday morning. But I can also relate to the song’s ironic portrayal of distractions. It seems that temptations work double time to make sure I’m offended at someone or something and that I do everything except have personal time with the Lord on Sunday mornings.
We need EVERY area of our lives bathed in prayer, but here are five ways that I’ve prayed on my car rides to church. Whether the commute is 10 minutes or 45 minutes, it is the last moment to prepare for the privilege of assembling together with the Body.
Pray for Restoration
First, ask how are things between me and God? Is there any un-confessed sin? Don’t wait for the church sanctuary to ask God for forgiveness; we ARE His sanctuary. Also, is there someone next to me that I need to ask forgiveness from? Sometimes we need to restore our relationship with our roommate, brother, or spouse because . . . . unkind words while waiting for the bathroom. Or an attitude issue from earlier in the week. Our flesh doesn’t take Sundays off. Thankfully, God gives strength to show grace for each other even when its hardest, and when we’re in a hurry, it can be the hardest. The car ride to church is not the only time — or even the best time — but it is a time of reflection to think about needed restored fellowship.
Pray for Preparation
Second, pray about the mirror. Chances are we’ve spent a decent amount of minutes in front of the bathroom mirror, fixing what needed fixing. Scrubbing our faces so we look alive. Curling our hair to make it even more gorgeous. I used to spend so much time on my appearance before church that on the way to church I was still stuck on what I looked like, using the rear-view mirror to double check everything. Let’s pray God’s Word would be like a mirror to us, showing what needs to be fixed and cleaned in our hearts.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.James 1:22-24
Pray that our eyes will be off ourselves, that you and I and the rest of the Body will have soft, prepared hearts to hear God’s Word preached!
Pray for Protection
Our minds are elusive. One moment we can be keyed into the sermon, taking fabulous notes, and the next we’re thinking about our outfit, what we dreamed about last night, or what it would be like to go on an African safari.
Pray protection for our minds so we can discipline ourselves to hear what God wants us to hear during the service. Pray protection for your pastor, that he would have the words of wisdom to declare and the energy to faithfully serve.
In a broader sense, we can pray for our persecuted sisters and brothers all over the world who risk so much to follow Jesus.
Pray for Channelization
Wait, what? I promise I’ve never used the word “channelization” in a sentence, let alone a prayer. I’m normal. Let me explain the heart behind this title: we can pray for our before-and-after church conversations. Ask God to give us opportunities to channel His grace to the person in the nearby pew. Pray for “divine appointments” to encourage and be encouraged. These are the words of two songs that often flood through my mind when driving to church (pun intended):
Channels only, blessed Master,
But with all Thy wondrous pow’r
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour. –Channels Only, Mary E Maxwell
May his beauty rest upon me as I seek the lost to win, and may they forget the channel, seeing only him. –May the Mind of Christ my Savior, Kate B. Wilkinson
You never know when you can pray for a sister or brother after a conversation with them in the foyer or even share the Gospel. May we be avenues of grace and truth to the saints! And may they forget the channels, remembering only Him.
Here’s the last but not least prayer idea.
Pray for Participation
Mark 7:6 says, And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.'”
Pray that our church body, leaders included, will truly worship God wholeheartedly. Forsaking lip service, may we sing each lyric as a prayer of truth to the Lord and thank Him along with our requests.
“It’s so good to be in the House of the Lord!”
Prayer idea: “Lord, please draw my heart toward You. Cleanse me of my pride and help me draw nearer to You. Let me be at peace with all people and seek to love them like You do. Prepare our hearts to hear the sermon. Take away distractions and lift our eyes to You. Keep us from judging others. Lead me into conversations that magnify Your name. Help me to bless those I come into contact with and may they forget the channel, seeing only you. Cause our hearts to be full of worship for You, not just today, but all through this week. Amen.”
Photo by Unsplash
Other posts in this series: The Splendorous Bride We Slander