Other article in series:
This article is the 2nd in a series titled Spending Time in God’s Presence. The general theme is that with the death of Jesus on the cross, we (God’s people) have access to the presence of God. We are following the Old Testament model of the tabernacle and temple as our guide. In that system the high priest would enter into the presence of God on behalf of God’s people one day a year.
When Jesus was crucified, the curtain which limited the access to the Most Holy Place of God’s presence was torn in two. This made it possible for all men and women to enter into God’s presence without restrictions of dates and times. We can recreate that Old Testament journey into the temple and into God’s presence.
The first leg of that journey is that of singing.
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
— Psalm 100:2
Gladness & Joy
When God’s people began entering into the tabernacle or temple, they did so with song. In the verse above, a correlation exists between the two statements and a correlation between gladness and singing. As we come to the Lord, our singing should be marked with gladness. Another verse in the Psalms expresses a similar idea.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
— Psalm 95:2
Coming into God’s presence is again linked with singing. As gladness was linked with singing previously, so here joy is linked. Later in the series we will discuss the roles of thanksgiving and praise which are both mentioned in Psalm 95.
So our singing should be marked with gladness and joy as we enter God’s presence. A place does exist for songs that are laments or express a more downcast spirit. But on entering God’s presence, we should be focused on giving thanks to God for what he has done and praising him for who he is. If this is the case, we can find joy and gladness. Even in the darkest of times, God is still mighty and active.
So how does this play out? Whether we are in corporate worship at church or personal times of prayer and devotion, we should enter into worship by singing joyful songs filled with giving thanks and praise. Worship leaders are wise to structure times of worship using this format. It may be a bit easier for us to sing when we are joined by others singing and have instrumental help. With just a bit of creativity and focus, we can do the same on our own.
It does not really matter what style of music you prefer. I grew up in churches with hymnals and Southern Gospel songs. From memory I can still recall and sing some of these great songs. When I prepare to spend a few moments in prayer and in the Scriptures, I can meditate on God’s person and goodness by singing some of the old hymns with which I grew up singing. If you have a hymnal around, open it up and sing some of the hymns.
With the rise of modern technology, we also have some other options. I personally use iTunes and my iPod. I have set up a special playlist of worship songs that help me focus on giving thanks and praise. As I play them, I sing along (sometimes softly and sometimes not so softly – if nobody else is around).
You could also just open your Bible to Psalms and sing one of the Psalms to your own melody.
This practice draws my focus to God. Often keeping focus is the most difficult part of prayer. It prepares me for the other aspects of spending time in God’s presence. I then can give thanks that is more personal in nature. I can praise God for his attributes that have been demonstrated around me. I more clearly see my sin and am able to confess it and repent of it. I then am able to present an acceptable sacrifice. Once I get to the asking and interceding part, I will be inclined to ask more in line with God’s character rather than my own. As I open the Bible to read, my mind and heart are prepared to receive what God says.
In the next article, we will discuss giving thanks in more detail. Until then spend some time with God by beginning with singing with joy and gladness. You will be on your way into the presence of God.
One special and important note: please do not think that a mere formula will get us into God’s presence. God is the one who draws us and is not at our disposal. We are at his disposal. These articles are simply to help us practice biblical aspects of worship. You are to seek God with all of your heart and mind.
In the comment section, let me know how you incorporate singing into your prayer time.