Spiritually Hungry? The Church Service Is Your Main Meal

Spiritual Sustenance

What if I told you that your main spiritual meal isn’t meant to be your private devotional time with the Lord?

As individuals swimming in autonomous Western waters, this is a hard concept for us to grasp. After all, reading God’s Word by ourselves and communing with the Lord in private are good and wonderful things! We should absolutely pursue God by opening our Bibles whenever we can, with an eagerness to hear his voice.

Help for the Hungry Soul

Kristen Wetherell

In Help for the Hungry Soul, author Kristen Wetherell offers 8 encouragements to spur an appetite for God’s word—the only thing that can truly satisfy a soul hungry for more.

But your individual devotional time—or “quiet time,” as we so fondly like to call it—is not meant to be your main source of spiritual nourishment. The church is. Here’s why.

Debunking “Quiet Time”

First, there is no command in the Bible about having a daily quiet time. There are commands about loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). There are commands to keep in step with the Spirit, who teaches us the truth about the gospel through Scripture (Gal. 5:1–26). And there are commands to hold fast to the word of life, to not be deceived by false teaching, and to hold our original confidence firm to the very end (Phil. 2:16; 1 Tim. 4:6–16; Heb. 3:14).

But is there any command like “you shall arise at five in the morning, coffee in hand, and spend time with the Lord alone for two hours”? No.

God isn’t prescriptive about this in his Word. Instead, he commands proper priorities for the growth of our souls in him: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and [everything else you need] will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). He wants us to hunger for the bread of life, not for an idealistic formula. He wants us to pursue Jesus, not a perfect quiet time, as if there were such a thing.

Discovering God’s Intention

Second, Scripture shows us that God’s words have overarchingly been directed to his gathered people, not solely to individuals. For example:

When God spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, he intended them for the Israelites, his redeemed people (Ex. 20). When God spoke to the prophets, bringing them his words of remembrance and warning, he told them to relay these words to his wayward people (Isa. 1:4; Jer. 2:1–13). When God spoke his law through prophets like Joshua (Josh. 24) and kings like Josiah (2 Kings 23:1–2) and priests like Ezra (Ezra 7:10; Neh. 8:1–3), he did so in the hearing of all God’s people.

And what about the New Testament? This section of our present-day Bible was composed for the early church, God’s gathered people. Whenever you read your New Testament, you are reading historical accounts leading up to the church (like the Gospels and Acts), letters to the church (like 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, and Romans), and prophecy about the church (Revelation).

The Lord clearly loves communicating with his people as the gathered church. And this reality tells us something vital about what happens on a Sunday morning.

Delighting in Our Main Meal

What exactly happens (or should happen) at our worship gatherings? A collective feasting on God’s nourishing Word. As his gathered people delight in his gospel of grace together, our souls are nourished for the week ahead. Every church looks different in how it does this, but generally speaking, we feast on God’s Word during a worship service through at least four means: singing it, praying it, reading it, and hearing it preached.

We sing God’s Word.

Worship music has become so normal for us that we often don’t consider its purpose. When we sing the word, we are letting it nourish our souls (Col. 3:16). In singing together about Christ and his many words, promises, and works, we are feeding on him and satisfying our hunger for him. We are encouraging our brothers and sisters, who need to hear the truth proclaimed through our voices, and they are encouraging us. We are memorizing great truths that will stay with us throughout the week (because songs are sticky!). And we are offering our collective praise to God, which brings him honor.

We pray God’s Word.

It’s easy to let our minds wander during the pastoral prayer (“Did I shut the garage door . . . ?”), but instead we engage with it, praying along with our leaders in our hearts. We make their prayers our own, thankful that someone is giving voice to the congregation’s needs, confessions, and praises. This is a wonderful blessing! You can receive corporate prayers as a gift and let them nourish your soul with the truth. You might even ask for a copy of the prayers, and then pray them throughout the week or use them as a guide for your own.

We read God’s Word.

During corporate worship we have the privilege of pausing our harried lives to receive Scripture in the company of other believers. We have a set-apart opportunity to breathe in God’s breathed-out words, to hear, and to believe. I want to encourage you: this matters! Don’t label Sunday’s Scripture reading as mere routine; your soul is being washed with the cleansing, life-giving words of God. This is part of your primary spiritual meal that will nourish you throughout the week.

As his gathered people delight in his gospel of grace together, our souls are nourished for the week ahead.

We hear God’s Word.

When you enter the sanctuary to worship God on a Sunday morning, a great and supernatural work has been happening behind the scenes: sermon prep. God is ready to serve you his Word through your pastor. Be ready to receive a life-giving, carefully crafted meal—from God’s mouth, through your pastor’s mouth, straight to your soul. It is the Lord’s joy—and your pastor’s—to prepare a table before you so your soul is strengthened for the week ahead (Ps. 23:5).

Nourished, Together

The next time you feel discouraged and guilty about not having your personal “quiet time,” do this instead: remember the previous Sunday at church, and then breathe a sigh of relief and praise. You have consumed God’s Word. More than that, you have feasted on its abundance. Through singing it, praying it, reading it, and hearing it preached alongside God’s gathered and beloved people, you have “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Your soul has been truly nourished.

And over time, your appetite for God’s words will grow, and your hunger for him will be satisfied.

Kristen Wetherell is the author of Help for the Hungry Soul: Eight Encouragements to Grow Your Appetite for God's Word.

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