Church Weekly
31 Jan 2021



Dear Members in Christ,

The pandemic and our attitude to worship

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought upon us many practices which we term as “new normal.” The way we interact with one another, the way we conduct public meetings and gatherings. And of course, the restriction in movement has changed the way we worship on the Lord’s Day. The Bible injunction is often heard in our call to worship, 

“Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” Psalm 29:1,2

We are familiar with worship under normal conditions, where we dress in our Sunday best, go to church and gather in the sanctuary for worship. While we pray and wish that we may be permitted to gather for worship in-person, in the meantime, the only alternative is to follow a home-based worship service live-streamed via the Web. With the change in the place and mode of worship, we also ought to examine ourselves in terms of our attitudes and conduct. Should the transition from church-based in-person worship to home-based worship via live-streamed service alter our attitudes and conduct during the worship service? This question is rhetorical of course, the answer is, “No, our attitudes and conduct ought not to change for we worship an immutable and unchanging God.” 

Preparing ourselves for worship 

During pre-Covid times, when we gather in church for service, worshippers would come early, before the service begins to meditate and pray. God is holy and as such, we confess our sins before Him before we approach His throne of grace. Worshippers who do so remember the Bible teaching from 1 John 1:9 to confess our sins before God, and He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Who would dare venture to approach a Holy and righteous God whilst harboring unconfessed sins in one’s hearts?

The Psalmist echoes these thoughts when He wrote, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” Psalm 24:3, 4. Thus, priests and worshippers alike, through the ages, prepare themselves before coming into God’s presence. 

So, does the transition to home worship change the way we conduct our pre-service preparation? Do we awake early on the Lord’s Day, refresh ourselves, be appropriately dressed and, be reverently ready for worship before the time commences? Or is Sunday morning worship from home a continuation of our morning snooze, a quick roll in bed at the last minute, still in pyjamas, hurriedly and dozily, switching on the phone looking for the appropriate link? We hope not! We pray that worshippers will be serious and reverent during home worship despite the pandemic. Awake early! Prepare yourselves and your family for the Lord’s day worship. 

Brothers and sisters, let us seek to please God and not man. If we are concerned only with the outward forms of worship, and we ignore the spiritual and inward aspects of devotion and confession, we are no different from the Pharisees. In Matthew 6:1, the Lord Jesus chides the Pharisees who do their alms to be, “seen of men.” In Matthew 6:5, He chides those who prays “to be seen of men.” Likewise, in Matthew 23:5 Speaking of their dressing and practices, the Lord Jesus rebukes them sharply for “all their works they do for to be seen of men.”

If we slacken our attitude and conduct during worship because “no one is watching.”, or even worse, if we say to ourselves, “We’re worshipping at home and not in church, there’s no need to be so serious.” We are sadly mistaken because we have forgotten one very important truth that God is Spirit and He is Omnipresent. All that worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth. 

Our outward conduct is an expression of our inward desire. The Lord Jesus taught His disciples, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21. 

Let us obey our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by worshipping Him reverently, with preparedness of heart, and with hearts and minds cleansed from the sins and pollutions of this world. May God help us. 

Continuing series on the topic of Invocation and Opening Prayers (Excerpt from “The Biblical Pattern of Worship”)

Examples of opening prayers and invocation from church History

In the past series, we have dwelt upon the Invocation during worship. Also, we have considered the theological aspects of the Lord’s Prayer in the worship service. This week, we cite some historical examples of invocations used in church worship drawn from church history. It must not be construed that these invocations cited are meant to be “sample solutions” for worship leaders to follow. Rather, these examples are cited to give the reader a sense of the spirit of adoration and the exaltation offered by worshippers in generations past. 

The following is an invocation for the presence of God to lead and guide the congregation in their worship.

“O God, be present with us always, dwell within our hearts. With thy light and thy Spirit guide our souls, our thoughts, and all our actions, that we may teach thy Word, that thy healing power may be in us and in thy church universal. Amen.” This invocation is attributed to Melanchthon, 1550. Melanchthon was known to be an expert in the Greek language, and he was a close companion of Martin Luther throughout the years of the Reformation. 

Invocations of thanksgiving to the Eternal Father

“We give thanks to thee, Omnipotent, Everliving God of truth, eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of heaven and earth, of men, and of all creature, Sustainer of all things, Giver of all life, order, and wisdom, unfailing Source of help: And to thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Word and eternal Image: And to thy Holy Spirit, with whom thou didst endow the apostles at Pentecost. We give thanks to thee, O God of holiness, and truth, wisdom and goodness, justice and mercy, purity and loving-kindness, for with goodness and wisdom unmatched thou didst reveal thyself to us, sending thy Son into the world, destined to assume human nature and to become a sacrifice for us.”

“We give thanks to thee, O God, for gathering thy eternal church, for guarding the ministry of thy Word, for granting thy Holy Spirit, and for giving life everlasting. We thank thee, O God, because thou givest us all good things, because thou dost alleviate and take away the chastisement we justly deserve, because thou bestowest upon us all the blessings of soul and body. To thee be all glory, honor, praise, and thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen.” This was also attributed to Melanchthon, 1559. The above are examples of invocations cited from “Prayers of the Reformers,” compiled by Clyde Manschreck1

Here is another 18th century invocation found in the Directory of Public Worship by MacNiven and Wallace2“How excellent is Thy loving kindness, O God; therefore do the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings. Satisfy us now with the goodness of Thy House. In Thy light make us to see light. May Thy Holy Spirit be with us in prayer and praise, in speaking and hearing from Thy Holy Word. And do Thy bless us with all spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ, for His name’s sake. Amen.”

May these examples from church history help us in our contemplation and preparation for the Lord’s Day worship. To God be the Glory. Amen. 


In Christ,

Dn Ben Lim Seh Beng


1 Manschreck, Prayer of the Reformers, 1960

2 MacNivien and Wallace, Free Church of Scotland: A New Directory for the Worship of God, 1899