A Prayer for Evening Worshippers

The first time I led singing at church was on a Sunday evening. My father, who was the preacher, and several other men were out of town. A few minutes before the service was to begin, one of the elders tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Mike, you’re the only male member of the church here tonight who can carry a tune. We need you to lead singing. Pick out some songs. Just start them, and the ladies will take it from there.” I was ten years old, and began my public ministry that night.

Thirty years later, I was leading singing again on a Sunday night. However, now I was a U. S. Army Chaplain leading worship at a contemporary worship service, the only Sunday evening chapel service at that post. As I had prepared for that evening, the words of a Psalm I had never noticed made an impact on me:

“Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD!” (Psalm 134:1-2).

I used Psalm 134 as the “Call to Worship” reading that evening. Here was a Psalm written for those who serve God in worship settings in evening assemblies. Years have passed since that evening. Even as evening assemblies have waned in attendance and have been phased out in many places, I still enjoy “standing by night in the house of the LORD.”

Recently I finished teaching a group of men on Wednesday nights about how to study the Gospel of Mark inductively. As we learned that we need not be afraid because Christ has risen, we also discussed the urgency of the mission of Jesus. That urgency has dissipated in the hearts of many Christians. We surrender to many distractions. Other activities clamor for our attention and the limited spaces on our calendars. We have difficulty finding time to “lift up {our} hands…and bless the LORD.” Psalm 134 calls us to worship as it did pilgrims to festivals in Jerusalem centuries ago. The words of a distant lyricist call us to stand by night in the assembly of those who worship God, lifting our hands in prayer and our voices in song to our Savior and our God. That’s not all. As the song calls us to sing and to pray, its writer also prays for those who worship the Lord together at night,

“May the LORD bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth! (Psalm 134:3).

* Quotations from the Bible are from the English Standard Version.

Lord God, who created heaven and earth, we lift our hands to you in prayer and thank for the privilege to enjoy what you have made. We lift our voices and sing of your majesty; we extol your gracious sacrifice on our behalf – sending your Son to die so that we may live and love. Stimuli bombard us each minute, distracting us from meditation on your goodness. We pray that we may remember the blessing of this psalm, and carve out time to focus entirely on you, even in the evening when it seems there is so much to do. You bless us so richly when we pause and take time to listen to your voice. Thank you for your gracious care and loving redemption. In Jesus’ name, amen.

About Michael Summers

Michael Waymon Summers has preached in twenty-seven of the United States as well as seven other countries. Michael earned a Master of Theology degree. He also has done graduate work in international studies. Michael likes to run, loves to sing, and reads voraciously.
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