This week, I was reading Wayne Mack’s book—Life in the Father’s House in preparation for my men’s book study, and one line hit me and made me think. He writes, “Praying specifically for the church services is another way of preparing ourselves for them.” 
Sure, you pray for the church. That’s what we are called to do as Christians. You have been taught the difference between the church building and the church body. However, as we devote ourselves to praying for the individuals and the families of our church—along with the leaders—when was the last time you prayed for the worship service?
If you’ve been in the life of the church for any length of time, you’ve probably come to the reality that people have various and sundry opinions about every detail of the worship service. Sometimes these opinions are expressed in form of compliment, but still others are offered in the form of complaints. For some, the preacher preaches too long or he uses confusing vocabulary. For others, the music does not suit their needs. Still others have complaints about the fact that we’re standing too long in the worship service.
At the end of the day, some of the complaints may have merit, but how much of the complaining would be solved by a simple prayer each week that centered upon the worship service? I recall arriving early on Sunday mornings and gathering with men from our church to pray for the worship service each week. I remember that as a college student, I was made aware of the seriousness of the worship service and the need to commit it to prayer every week. How would this change our view of what’s happening in the worship service every week?
Prayer Can Change Your Priority
When we read Psalm 95 and Psalm 96, we see language that demands God’s people to take seriously the gathering for public worship. We are familiar with the words of Hebrews 10:24-25 (stir up; encourage), but really the whole of Scripture points to the need for God’s people to prioritize worship. Just consider the specificity of the Tabernacle and how it was centralized among God’s people for worship.
When we pray for the worship gathering, it’s unlikely that we will deliberately place other things before it and habitually neglect the gathering. When we pray for the corporate worship service, it will change the way we plan our weekly schedule, entertainment, and other activities that often compete for our time and devotion.
God not only expects his people to worship him in private settings, individually and within family circles—but he expects us to worship him publicly with the gathered church. On the Lord’s Day, we are to worship him in spirit and truth through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:16-4:5; Acts 2:42), praise him in song (Eph. 5:18-19; Col. 3:16), experience him in the ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and pray together as a church and for the church. This is a far different experience than when we are alone in our living room on a Tuesday evening.
By praying for these different elements of the worship service—it’s likely that selfish complaints will be set aside as the emphasis and true purpose of each part of our worship service is put under the light of scrutiny, but most importantly as the desires of our heart are examined through our time of prayer.
Prayer Can Change Your Engagement
I remember attending my first Atlanta Braves baseball game in the new SunTrust Park a couple of seasons ago. I was amazed by the different attractions that modern baseball parks add into the experience of a game. From ziplines to restaurants—attending a game today is far different than it was just a few years ago.
Inside modern baseball parks, it’s common for people to be seated at tables just a few feet from the field, watching the game on large television screens, checking social media, drinking beer, and occasionally glancing out upon the field. What they experience is something quite different than the people who are seated in their seats, watching each play, anticipating the next pitch, observing the count of balls and strikes, and checking to see who is standing in the on-deck circle. The people in the restaurant are near the game, but they are not engaged in the game.
When we spend time praying for the weekly worship service, it will have an impact upon your level of engagement. If church is merely something you attend as opposed to something you’re involved in and doing on a regular basis—praying for the weekly service will bring this to light. As you pray for the musicians who play, if you have gifts but are not using them, it will cause you to reconsider your rationale. When you consider all of the work necessary just to pull off a detailed worship service each week, you will begin to ask yourself why you aren’t up earlier and on site to help get things into order?
In short, praying for the weekly worship service changes the level of personal engagement and allows us to see holes that we can fill. If you’re part of a church plant, why should the pastor have to set up all of his chairs in the meeting place each week and study the sermon and preach it too? Why can’t someone else engage in the setup? Praying for every part of the service brings such details to the surface and reveals needs within the body that you can help meet—as opposed to complaining about it.
If the choir is not loud enough, why not join them? If the preacher is using complicated vocabulary, why not study and engage the text to understand better? If nobody greeted you on the side entrance on Sunday, why not arrive early and help open doors and greet people as they arrive? Prayer has a way of changing your level of engagement—so pray for each detail of the weekly worship service and help make your church worship better by how you engage. Modern worship has been described as the engagement of the “modern man [who] worships his work, works at his play, and plays at his worship.”  The only way we can seriously change this pattern is through obedience to Scripture and attention to the details through faithful prayer.
- Wayne Mack and Dave Swavely, Life in the Father’s House, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2006), 127.
- Quoted by Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, (Colorado Springs/; Nav Press, 1991), 89.