“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4a).
First of all, we have here an invitation to come to the place of God’s worship. Secondly, we also have here an instruction on how we should come to His place of worship.
The verb “enter” is a strong imperative, commanding all His people to be in the place of worship. It is not merely a suggestion that it is good to be in the church, though that statement is wholly true. The divine intention of this command, unquestionably, is that every believer ought to gather together in the appointed place of worship to praise Him.
The words “gates” and “courts” evoke strong memories of the temple of the LORD. While “gates” denote the entrances to the compound of the LORD’s temple, “courts” refer to the open spaces which surrounded the temple, where the people of God would gather to worship God. Only the priests were allowed to enter the temple proper; thus the “courts” denote the places around the temple marked out for the gathering worshippers. The courts of the tabernacle and the temple were the most yearned after place of the saints. In Psalm 84:2, the saint of God says, “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” Similarly in another place, a saint of the LORD says, “I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, In the courts of the LORD’S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 116:18-19). They knew that there are special blessings attached to those who delight in the public worship of God in the courts of His house. Psalm 92:13 declares, “Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.”
Attached to the LORD’s invitation to His house of worship is the clear instruction to come with “thanksgiving” and “praise”. No other disposition of heart is better suited for His worship than thanksgiving. The praise of the LORD proceeds from thankful people. The offer of praise is the most befitting thanksgiving to God. Let us be eager to enter His house to praise Him with songs and prayers of thanksgiving. Let His praise fill your heart and be upon your tongue. It is the common heritage of God’s people to praise Him in His house. May it be our greatest pleasure to be found in His presence with God’s people. Let us also encourage others and be an example in the matter of public worship of our thrice-holy God.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is my testimony of how I have been blessed by our church’s Tuesday night prayer meeting. When I first heard of the Tuesday prayer meeting, I thought it must be a meeting where brethren would pray for more than one hour, which would not suit me as I wouldn’t have many things to pray. In those days, I could only think of praying for my studies, my family, but not about others. Thinking that church prayer meeting is optional, I even convinced myself that it is better to spend time studying than going for prayer meeting. After all, I gave myself the excuse that prayer without hard work cannot give me good grades.
My thinking changed after attending classes at FEBC last year in my intent to acquire more knowledge about God. During the semestral break, a close sister-in-Christ asked me to think about going to prayer meeting on Tuesday nights. My reply was “Yes”. Since then, I never looked back. I would learn that it is God’s appointed meeting for me. Today, my boss knows that every Tuesday I need to go off from work on time. I am amazed at the way God beckons and leads me into His will and service. I pray that l would not esteem it lightly. Thank God for using the right people at the right time to “guide” my steps.
After attending my first Tuesday prayer meeting, my whole concept of a prayer meeting was “turned upside down”. Prayer meeting comprises a time of singing of hymns, followed by a message from Pastor, and then prayer time in small groups or amidst the whole congregation. The choice of hymns by brethren is a spiritual exercise which I can joyfully identify with. Some choose a song because it has been recently sung on the Lord’s Day or in their family worship. Others choose a song because it is their favourite hymn. Yet others choose to learn a relatively unfamiliar song, or a song which reflects the thought of Pastor’s Bible-study topic, or one that encourages someone in the congregation. Whatever be their reasons, I benefit from learning lots of hymns which are very dear to me, some of which will certainly stay with me, even till my deathbed!
God’s messages through Pastor have played an important role in shaping my understanding about prayer. Praise God that He not only calls me to communicate with Him in prayer, but also clearly tells me in His Word how I ought to pray in an acceptable and pleasing manner. This gives me the assurance that all my prayers shall be answered. The ongoing topic on “The Names of Christ”, which Pastor is teaching, is very enlightening. In the Bible, every name that God has revealed about Himself is meant to help us know His character, will and greatness. As the whole duty of man is to know God and enjoy Him forever, learning about His names and His character is a most blessed privilege a child of God can be granted!
Moreover, the time of prayer with my prayer-partners also helps instil in me the right choice of words in prayer. Even though God looks at the heart of the praying saint and not his choice of words, I cannot “put up with” myself when I find myself struggling to express my thoughts to God and the prayer becomes rather “stunted”. (I do not want my prayer to be unedifying to my prayer-partners.) I am also amazed that God sometimes answers my inner concerns through the words that my partners utter in prayer. God uses their words to comfort me in my struggles and remind me of certain passages in Scripture. Prayer time is indeed a learning time for me!
Last but not least, another blessing I have received is that I get to know more about the joys as well as struggles of other brethren. Of course, I do not mean being a busybody, but fulfilling God’s commandment to love my brothers and sisters. Truly, when I pray for them, my love for them also grows, no matter what the level of closeness of our friendship. I trust that God is pleased when His children love one another openly or “upon every remembrance” through prayer.
Undeniably, one of the purposes of my testimony is to encourage more brethren to come and join our Tuesday Prayer Meeting and Bible Study. If you haven’t been attending, I would like to encourage you to come as often as possible, that you may be blessed. Truly, I realise that man’s invitation can serve as a timely trigger for God’s effectual calling. I hope I can be that “trigger” in someone’s life, as my close sister-in-Christ had been to me last May.