Every Sunday, all over the world, every church service begins with a call to worship. For some this is just a song, others it is a scripture reading, silence, prayer, or a devotional. However a church chooses to do this, the purpose is the same: invite the community of Christ into the manifest presence of God. This is not to say that worship is starting – because that would also mean that it will come to an end! It is there to serve as a catalyst for worship – a reminder that we are gathered for a singular purpose, and that purpose is to worship God as His people.
There are specific promises in scripture that indicate the value for community in worship. For instance, God commands Himself to bless those who dwell together in unity, (Psalm 133:1-3). Jesus promises to be present in the community that gathers in His name, (Matthew 18:20). This is not to take away from the omnipresence of God, but it is to emphasize His manifest presence and glory. For this reason, we invite one another into worship, sacrifice, and into His presence.
Lent serves as a global call to worship to His Church. It is a catalyst that invites the people of God into the Father’s presence as we intentionally engage in sacrifice together in Jesus’ name. It is not a Biblical season, but a reflection of the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for a three-year journey of intense ministry, (Matthew 4:1-11). These forty days were not the only time that Jesus spent praying or seeking the Father, but they serve as a reminder to us of how important the intentional engagement of prayer and fasting is.
Every great journey should start with prayer. The mistake so many make in prayer is asking God to bless their journey, endeavor, agenda, or initiative. But the point of prayer is not to get God to bless us, but it is to submit our steps, pathways, and choices to Him. I have come to realize that prayer is much more about alignment with the will of God than it is anything else. It is certainly important to ask Him to move on our behalf – we have not because we have neglected to ask, (James 4:2-3). But, even in this, it is about bringing our goals, objectives, and needs to Him with open hands expecting Him to bring our steps into alignment with His agenda, His kingdom, and His purpose.
I hope that you will allow Lent to call you into worship and sacrifice. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to manipulate God into blessing your agenda – God will not be mocked in this way. We do not fast and pray to get our way. We fast and pray to get out of the way so that God can have His way in our lives.
Here are a couple of wise sayings about alignment to God and His will for our lives:
Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man determines his course, but God determines his steps.”
Proverbs 3:6 “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Here are a couple of opportunities that I hope you will step into this Lenten season:
Corporate Fast: One-Day Corporate Fast starting at 6PM on Ash Wednesday
Concert of Prayer: Ash Wednesday, February 26th at 6-7PM
24-Hour Prayer Alignment: One-hour blocks from 6PM, February 26th to 6PM, February 27th
40-Day Communal Fast: Sign-up for a one-day fast along with our church community
40-Day Lenten Fast: Offer a personal sacrifice to bring yourself into alignment with God