Second, come to worship with eagerness and expectation that the Spirit of God is active—saving the lost and sanctifying His people—through His Word, prayer, and the sacraments. As the gospel is planted and watered through these means of grace in worship, God provides the growth (1 Cor. 3:7). When we consider that all we have is from the hand of our gracious God, and that He has sovereignly saved us from eternal damnation, our desire will be to offer to Him sincere and humble sacrifices of thanksgiving (Ps. 50:14). We will long to praise His holy name with fully engaged hearts and minds. When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will be blessed and satisfied (Matt. 5:6). Moreover, our desire to worship God fuels the desires of others to worship God, including our own children. Sincere worship is contagious, testifying to the reality of God and His gospel. This, in turn, encourages an overall eagerness and expectation by others to participate in worship.
Third, worship is dialogical—God speaks, and His people respond. Therefore, as active participants in worship, we hear the call of God to worship Him; we engage in various responsive readings from Scripture or a confession of faith; we follow along in the reading of God’s Word in our own Bibles; we join our hearts in the prayers that are offered; we take notes (mental or actual) of the points made in the sermon; we sing thoughtfully and joyfully the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with grace in our hearts; we confess our sins with a sincere awareness of our depravity; we remember to improve upon our own baptism when we take part in the baptism of another; we participate in the body and blood of Jesus at the Lord’s Supper, remembering by faith His sacrifice of atonement for our sins; we actively take comfort in being assured of His pardoning grace; we give of our tithes and offerings as an expression of our thanksgiving toward and dependence on God; and we go with the peace that God has promised in His benediction. In every element, then, we are fully present and attentive.
Fourth, being an active participant in worship may involve certain appropriate postures or movements. It’s not uncommon to stand for the reading of God’s Word out of respect (Neh. 8:5), to bow one’s head in humble prayer (Ps. 35:13), or to stretch out one’s hands to receive the benediction (Num. 6:24–26; Neh. 8:6). All these are ways to increase both individual and communal participation in worship.
Rather than being mere observers or passive attenders in the worship of our triune God, may we carefully prepare ourselves for worship, eagerly expect God to be at work among His people in worship, and actively engage our hearts, minds, souls, and strength in each element of worship. And as we become active participants, may God work in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever (Heb. 13:21).