One of the more vital needs of the church is for us to do what we do on purpose. In other words, while there’s a right sort of habitual piety, there’s also a very real threat of putting our worship on spiritless autopilot. We should ask ourselves, “What are we doing here?” And we should have an answer that’s derived from what God, in His Word, told us to do in our gathering.
This is a service of prayer (Acts 2:42) in which God renews His covenant with His people (Heb. 12:22-24). Let me break that into two parts. The reason we assemble is to offer our prayers up to the Lord. True prayer humbles itself before the Living God. As such, it brings praise for Who He is & petitions Him alone for deliverance from evil. Our songs are sung prayers; largely derived from the Psalms or from themes clearly tied to the text of Scripture. We bring God our praise by praying back to Him how He taught us to pray.
But this leads to how we know our prayers are heard. We pray in Jesus’ name. This isn’t a sweet tagline to our prayers. It is a covenantal acknowledgement. And so, God cuts us up through his Word as it is sung, read, preached, and displayed (by Baptism & the Supper). In Christ, we are united unto His perfect sacrifice, and in this way and this alone we offer ourselves up to God.
God doesn’t desire false worship. He wants righteous worship. The only way which sinners like us can bring right worship (in our prayers & praise) is if we bring it in covenant. Every other attempt is really idolatry, self-worship, and sin. You’ve come to Mt. Zion, not to do God a favor, but because of His favor towards you.
God’s Word cautions us that our tongues are an unruly member of our body. With it we curse our fellow man and then imagine we can turn and praise the Lord with the same vile tongue. Indeed, we have sinned against our God in our thoughts, words, and doings. We have not only not offered Him the right praise He deserves, but we have offered ourselves to the false gods of envy, lust, pride, and vanity. It falls to us to turn to the Lord for forgiveness for thinking we can have it both ways.