The Purpose in Our Worship

About a year and a half ago, I heard about this approach to worship that revolutionized how our church did worship.  Since that moment, I have not found our service to ever be “in a rut.”  I can’t speak for everyone in our service, but I find a much greater focus since switching to this very simple and practical change.  Some of you may know this method, but it was brand new to me.  I don’t know what others call it, but I call it “The Isaiah 6 Method.”

Here is a quick idea of what this is:

First we see a praise or an awe of God.  “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple,” (v. 1, ESV).  I try to quickly get through the welcome and announcements, and from that moment we are entering into worship and we seek to begin with the awe-inspiring song of God.  We sing to Him in order to praise Him.  Our first song is typically vertical in nature.  Singing to God rather than about God.

As we go we see that there is a calling to worship and an invoking of God’s blessing.  “Above him stood the seraphim.  Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew,” (v. 2, ESV).  These Seraphim—special angels of heaven—are standing at the ready in service.  They are always prepared to worship and serve, “And one called to another and said: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory,” (v. 3, ESV)! Notice now that they are not singing or even speaking to God, but rather to each other.  They are calling each other to worship, reminding each other of who God is and what His attributes are.

In our calls to worship we generally read Scriptures that remind us of God’s majesty, beauty, strength, healing, and such.  We need to be reminded of the kind of God we worship.  And then we pray to this God asking that He bless our fellowship with each other and worship and fellowship of Him.  Then we sing a song about Him.

As a result of seeing the awe-inspiring God, and being reminded of who that God is there was a noticeable change in the atmosphere: “And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke,” (v. 4, ESV). Isaiah wept over His sin.  He made confession for Himself and His people.  “And I said, ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts,” (v. 5, ESV)!  And so next in our service is our time of confession.  We pray both as a local body of believers aloud and for our individual sins silently.  But God did not leave Isaiah to be broken hearted over his sin.  No!  What we see is, “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for,” (vv. 6-7, ESV).  Hence every time we do our prayer of confession corporately and privately, we end it with a Scripture reminding us of the forgiveness that God has for us in Christ Jesus if we believe. And then we follow it up with a song of assurance.

We have our offering next, which is technically not in Isaiah 6, but the overall understanding of what an offering is part of is there. By giving we commit our money to God.  And so, during the offering we tend to sing a song of commitment.  We give ourselves to Him, all that we are.  Our money, our time, our talent, everything.  This idea is directly from Isaiah 6: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’  Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me,” (v. 8, ESV).  Commitment to God’s mission.

God then instructs Isaiah to preach.  “And he said, ‘Go and say to this people…” (v. 9, ESV). To be fair, the message that God gave to Isaiah to give to the people was not warm and fuzzy.  It was condemning.  But the idea of proclaiming God’s word to the people is in the text, and so next we have our sermon where God’s Word is proclaimed without shame.  Part of that sermon is the pastoral prayer.  Where the pastor prays for his own.  While this is not part of Isaiah 6, we see that in John 17 the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ prayed for His own, and we follow suit.

Finally, we end the service with a song of response.  This is not in Isaiah 6, but the idea is to give people a time to think over the sermon and respond.  I’m not big on altar calls, but I do think people need some time to consider that to which they’ve been called.

Obviously, there are other methods, but this one keeps the mind focused on each moment of our worship as we go straight through Isaiah 6:1-9.  In one sense, the music can be “plugged in” if we aren’t careful.  We just need to find a song to God, about God, assuring of salvation, and a commitment song.  That would be easy enough to do.  But that could be said about any method or order.  It all depends on the heart of those preparing to facilitate the worship of Almighty God.

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