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Wandering Thoughts #13788
Thu Apr 15, 2004 5:32 AM
Thu Apr 15, 2004 5:32 AM
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john Offline OP
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I came across a reference to this book today

Remedies for Wandering Thoughts in Worship, by Richard Steele

Has anyone read this book or know about it? This is an issue that has troubled me for a long time. During worship service I have a hard time concentrating sometimes. Paying attention to the sermon isn't a big problem for me, but during the singing time and to a lesser extent during prayer time, I often find myself thinking about things other than worshipping God. For example, after singing a song I realize that I was just basically going through the motions while thinking about what I did last week, or maybe I was just enjoying the music and singing without any real praise for God in my heart. I'm sure this is a common problem to differing extents with all Christians, but it is deeply troubling to me. It makes me think of the passages in Scripture about pagans just babbling during prayer or people just worshipping externally instead of internally. So I find myself having to repent constantly throughout the service that my heart is not in the right place. Does any one have any comments or suggestions about how to prepare oneself to worship in a Godly manner. I think prayer before the service to God asking Him to prepare your heart to worship properly is probably the most important thing, but maybe there are some other things could help too.

Thanks,
John

Probably more than you wanted... [Re: john] #13789
Thu Apr 15, 2004 6:12 AM
Thu Apr 15, 2004 6:12 AM
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I got information using WorldCat (almost all libraries have access to it). There are also two different titles.

Here is the list of libraries they are at:

A remedy for wandering thoughts in the worship of God.


Samford University(AL)
Southwestern College (AZ)
Kings College and Seminary (CA)
Master's Seminary (CA)
Baptist College of Florida
Pensacola Christian College
Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando Campus
Emmaus Bible College (IA)
Moody Bible Institute (IL)
Minneapolis Public Library
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MO)
Reformed Theological Seminary (MS)
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (NC)
Western Seminary (OH)
Messiah College (PA)
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (PA)
Bob Jones University (SC)
Harding Graduate School (TN)
Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (TN)
Regent University (VA)
Emory University (GA)
University of Chicago
Princeton

An antidote against distractions. Or, An indeavour to serve the church, in the daily case of wandrings in the worship of God

UCLA
Yale
University of Iowa
University of Chicago
Graduate Theolgical Union (CA)
Emory University (GA)
New York Public Library
Asbury University (KY)
University of Oxford (UK)

And about 285 libraries have it n microform.

One interesting sounding one by a man by the name of David Steele:

Continuous singing in the ordinary public worship of God : considered in the light of Scripture and the subordinate standards of the Reformed Presbyterian Church ; in answer to some letters of inquiry addressed to the writer

Reformed Presbyterian Theological Library (PA)


True godliness is a sincere feeling which loves God as Father as much as it fears and reverences Him as Lord, embraces His righteousness, and dreads offending Him worse than death~ Calvin
Re: Wandering Thoughts [Re: john] #13790
Thu Apr 15, 2004 10:24 AM
Thu Apr 15, 2004 10:24 AM

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john said:
I came across a reference to this book today

Remedies for Wandering Thoughts in Worship, by Richard Steele

Has anyone read this book or know about it?


It is an excellent book, in my opinion. It is still in print by Sprinkle Pubs and probably available from Trinity Book Service.

Quote
Does any one have any comments or suggestions about how to prepare oneself to worship in a Godly manner. I think prayer before the service to God asking Him to prepare your heart to worship properly is probably the most important thing, but maybe there are some other things could help too.


Of course, in a sermon, one can take notes and thus maintain focus and concentration (or maybe those are the same thing). It is more difficult during public prayer and singing. As a worship leader, this is something for which I think it is important that worship leaders take responsibility. I'm not saying you should not also take responsibility, John, but public prayer is a much neglected ordinance in our evangelical (and even reformed) churches. Here are some things we've come up with over the years (sorry, I don't generally use three prepositions in a row). I relate them in no particular order (except as I think of them).

1. We pray and sing standing. This actually allows better oxygenation of the blood because there is no pressure on your diaphragm. You can breath deeply and should do so.

2. We have an order in which we sing the Psalms. We begin at Psalm 1 the first Lord's Day of the calendar year and sing throught the Psalter in such a way that we are at Psalm 150 on the last Lord's Day of the year. This means that if one follows our "plan," he can sing the same Psalms in his private and/or family worship the preceding week. There is then a better understanding of the Psalms as they have already been sung (at least) once in the prior seven days.

3. Public prayer in our assembly takes about 20 minutes or so of the worship time (yes, I know -- that is longer than many sermons that are preached in this country). So, it is important that we be sensitive to exactly the difficulty you mention in your post, John. First, we compose our prayers at least in outline in advance of the worship service. We do not approach the throne of the King of all that is with "nothing in particular" on our minds. We are thus able to break with the monotony and undeveloped thoughts that often accompany modern evangelical prayers ("lord we just wanna let you know that _______"). Second, the outline we follow is simply a particularization of the well-known "Lord's Prayer." See WSC #s 99-107 and WLC #s 178-196. So, my point is simply that not only do we think it is important for the worshipper to prepare for the public worship service, we think it is even more important for the worship leader to come prepared.

4. Because we live in a society in which these practices are somewhat unusual, we occasionally have "training sessions" for worship. We explain right decorum, preparation, etc.

Re: Probably more than you wanted... [Re: MarieP] #13791
Thu Apr 15, 2004 1:06 PM
Thu Apr 15, 2004 1:06 PM

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SemperReformanda said:
One interesting sounding one by a man by the name of David Steele:

Continuous singing in the ordinary public worship of God : considered in the light of Scripture and the subordinate standards of the Reformed Presbyterian Church ; in answer to some letters of inquiry addressed to the writer


For a response to David Steele's article, see The Westminster Directory and Lining of the Psalms.
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Re: Probably more than you wanted... #13792
Thu Apr 15, 2004 5:33 PM
Thu Apr 15, 2004 5:33 PM
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Hi Richard,

I confess I only briefly looked over the link you posted and it may answer my question, but I am a little unsure exactly what "Lining of the Psalms" means. Would you mind giving a brief description of what it entails.

Thanks,
John

Re: Probably more than you wanted... [Re: MarieP] #13793
Thu Apr 15, 2004 5:35 PM
Thu Apr 15, 2004 5:35 PM
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Thanks for the list Marie. Currently, I don't live near one of those libraries, but my parents do. Maybe next time I'm visiting home I can drop by and give it a look.

John

Re: Wandering Thoughts #13794
Thu Apr 15, 2004 5:50 PM
Thu Apr 15, 2004 5:50 PM
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Quote
Antikathistas said:

Of course, in a sermon, one can take notes and thus maintain focus and concentration (or maybe those are the same thing). It is more difficult during public prayer and singing. As a worship leader, this is something for which I think it is important that worship leaders take responsibility. I'm not saying you should not also take responsibility, John, but public prayer is a much neglected ordinance in our evangelical (and even reformed) churches.


I agree that a well-structured service helps me to focus on God better, but even when I've attended churches with a well-structured service, I still struggle with this problem. Of course when you are singing some of the more contemporary songs where you repeat the 2 line chorus about 15 times I honestly don't know how anybody can stay focused. I find singing hymns to be one of the most convicting parts of the service. Especially, when I am paying attention to the words and they say something similar to "I give you all of my praise" because in my heart I know that I don't really give God all of my praise. But I guess this is where every part of the service should direct us to Christ to find our acceptance before God and forgiveness of our sins (in this case lack of praise).

Quote
2. We have an order in which we sing the Psalms. We begin at Psalm 1 the first Lord's Day of the calendar year and sing throught the Psalter in such a way that we are at Psalm 150 on the last Lord's Day of the year. This means that if one follows our "plan," he can sing the same Psalms in his private and/or family worship the preceding week. There is then a better understanding of the Psalms as they have already been sung (at least) once in the prior seven days.


I think you've mentioned this in some of your previous posts, but I don't remember completely. At your church, you only sing songs taken from the Psalms. Is this correct?

Quote
3. Public prayer in our assembly takes about 20 minutes or so of the worship time (yes, I know -- that is longer than many sermons that are preached in this country). So, it is important that we be sensitive to exactly the difficulty you mention in your post, John. First, we compose our prayers at least in outline in advance of the worship service. We do not approach the throne of the King of all that is with "nothing in particular" on our minds. We are thus able to break with the monotony and undeveloped thoughts that often accompany modern evangelical prayers ("lord we just wanna let you know that _______"). Second, the outline we follow is simply a particularization of the well-known "Lord's Prayer." See WSC #s 99-107 and WLC #s 178-196.


I think this is a good practice. My previous church followed this practice fairly closely, although the length of the prayer varied some from week to week. Some weeks it might be 5 minutes and some weeks it might be 15.

John

Re: Wandering Thoughts [Re: john] #13795
Thu Apr 15, 2004 8:54 PM
Thu Apr 15, 2004 8:54 PM

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John,
I have the same problems sometimes though not during the sermon, usually. If we sing a hymn with an unfamiliar tune, I am so worried about trying to follow the tune that I am distracted and not focusing on the words at all. I also struggle with reality in prayer and though I try to be diligent in interceding for people, sometimes I can just be reading off of my list and my prayers never get out of the room.

Arthur Pink's biography had this rhyme quoted in it, something he learned from childhood. I had it written it on my prayer list for awhile to remind myself to pray from my heart and not just my mouth. (This is from memory so may not be exact)

I often say my prayers
But do I ever pray?
And do the wishes of my heart
Go with the words I pray?
I may as well bow down
And worship Gods of stone,
Then offer to the living God
A prayer of words alone.


Remember, even our prayers need to be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. I try to keep in mind something Martyn Lloyd-Jones taught in one of his books and that is to have a heart of longing for the Lord, longing to know Him better and to love Him more. When I can keep this in mind, He seems much closer. When my heart is cold and unmoved I confess my lack of love to Him and ask Him to give me more love for Him. I think this is why we are told to watch and pray because this is part of the battle we are in. I don't think you are alone with this struggle.

Re: Wandering Thoughts #13796
Fri Apr 16, 2004 4:56 AM
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Dear Susan:

Thanks for that poem by Pink.

I agree with you that this is something that all true believers struggle with as a result of the war we're in, "the devil", and also because of our weakness, like not knowing a new tune and worrying about singing on key, "the flesh", and also just being tempted by the "worries, riches and pleasures of life" or "the world".

You made the following observation which made me think of something I think the Lord showed me when He first began to work with noticeable power in my life:

Quote
I try to keep in mind something Martyn Lloyd-Jones taught in one of his books and that is to have a heart of longing for the Lord, longing to know Him better and to love Him more.


What I thought of was the sermon on the mount and what are called the beattitudes. Being arminian at the time, I didn't realize it was the Lord doing it, but it occured to me to pray the beattitudes, especially the part about being poor in spirit and having an hunger and thirst for righteousness. It occured to me that if the Lord said that one who "hungers and thirsts for righteousness" is blessed, then it made sense for me to pray for such an hunger and thirst. I didn't realize at the time that "Christ is our righteousness" in the theological sense of 1Cor1:30, "who is made unto us, Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, Redemption", but I believe the Lord did give me that hunger and thirst for Christ. I prayed that prayer faithfully for several years before I realized that He was answering it, and then a few years later, when I had not been so faithful and lost some of that hunger and thirst, I realized it was because I had not been as faithful to pray for it every day.

As I write this, I realize that this is one of the main purposes of T. Goodwins little book, "The Return of Prayers", which I am now reading, which is a wonderful little book. He speaks of the Lord's desire that we see real and tangible answers to our prayers, that we might be encouraged, and He might be glorified. How Good He is to patiently teach us, usually again and again, these wonderful lessons.

In Him,

Gerry

Re: Wandering Thoughts #13797
Fri Apr 16, 2004 6:45 AM
Fri Apr 16, 2004 6:45 AM

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Gerry,
As I have thought more about this after responding to John's post, I picked up Owen's book Sin and Temptation which you have cited often and there is much helpful advice here too. He talks about this problem in great detail.
The law of sin in us is enmity against God and this war goes on even after our conversions. There is so much that I could quote, but I only have time for this now.
Quote
Sin is first of all aversion of God. Sin is indisposed to duty whereby communion with God is obtained. All weariness of duty, all carnality, and all formality in duty spring from this root. So we are warned: "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God" (Ecclesiastes 5:1). In other words, God is saying, "Do you have any spiritual duty to perform? Do you propose to seek communion with God? Look to yourself, to take care of the inclinations of your heart, for they will wander and be deflected by aversion to what you propose."

Aversion will misdirect us whenever we seek to do good. "When I would do good, evil is present with me" (Romans 7:21) Paul is saying, "Whenever I have spiritual desires for good, sin is present to hinder and to obstruct me in my duty." This is because sin abhors and loathes whatever we would do for God. Sin allows an outward, bodily appearance of worship of God; with that it is not concerned, for sin keeps the heart far away (see Ezekiel 33:31).

Re: Probably more than you wanted... [Re: john] #13798
Fri Apr 16, 2004 8:24 AM
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Hey John,

Quote
john said:
I confess I only briefly looked over the link you posted and it may answer my question, but I am a little unsure exactly what "Lining of the Psalms" means. Would you mind giving a brief description of what it entails.


...getting further and further off-topic, so I expect to be raptured to another thread at any moment (imminent rapture doctrine of The-Highway?).

The first thing you need to understand is what a "precentor" is. He is the man who is responsible for leading the congregation in singing the Psalms. He may or may not make use of a "master-key" to set the pitch. Ours does not need a master-key (a little round pitch pipe), but many less skillful precentors use one. He then sings or recites one line of the Psalm (usually seven iambs, or fourteen "feet"). The congregation responds by singing together (with or without harmony parts) the same line they just heard from the precentor. It dates back to when either most people could not read or they did not have Psalters. It is mentioned in passing in the Westminster Directory for the Publick Worship of God. We do not today practice this "quaint" approach to Psalm singing, but it has a place in the history of the Scottish church.

Before you ask -- because we don't use instrumental accompaniment.

Re: Wandering Thoughts [Re: john] #13799
Fri Apr 16, 2004 8:27 AM
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Dear John,

Quote
john said:I think you've mentioned this in some of your previous posts, but I don't remember completely. At your church, you only sing songs taken from the Psalms. Is this correct?


We sing the Psalms exclusively in public worship; that is correct.

Quote
I think this is a good practice. My previous church followed this practice fairly closely, although the length of the prayer varied some from week to week. Some weeks it might be 5 minutes and some weeks it might be 15.


Excellent point. I should have written "up to 20 minutes."

Re: Probably more than you wanted... #13800
Fri Apr 16, 2004 9:47 PM
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Thanks for the description.



Quote
Antikathistas said:
...getting further and further off-topic, so I expect to be raptured to another thread at any moment (imminent rapture doctrine of The-Highway?).


I love the way you descibe getting moved to another thread. It made me laugh. Maybe since I started the thread and asked the question, we'll get "left behind" this time <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bif.gif" alt="" /> .

John

Re: Wandering Thoughts #13801
Fri Apr 16, 2004 9:54 PM
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Hi Susan,

You description of singing new hymns is a familiar experience to me too. I enjoyed the poem by Pink. It's encouraging to know other people struggle with the same things I do.


Quote

Remember, even our prayers need to be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. I try to keep in mind something Martyn Lloyd-Jones taught in one of his books and that is to have a heart of longing for the Lord, longing to know Him better and to love Him more. When I can keep this in mind, He seems much closer. When my heart is cold and unmoved I confess my lack of love to Him and ask Him to give me more love for Him. I think this is why we are told to watch and pray because this is part of the battle we are in. I don't think you are alone with this struggle.


I think this is some very sound advice. I like how you say that even our prayers need to be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. It really takes away the desire to offer up some elegant sounding prayer and to just be honest with God when you realize that fact.

John

Re: Wandering Thoughts #13802
Sat Apr 17, 2004 5:22 AM
Sat Apr 17, 2004 5:22 AM

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Good Morning Sister:

In your reply you said:

Quote
As I have thought more about this after responding to John's post, I picked up Owen's book Sin and Temptation which you have cited often and there is much helpful advice here too. He talks about this problem in great detail.


Yes, he deals with so many key issues in that little book. I thought it was interesting that you mentioned it for as I got up this morning the first thoughts in my mind were that it is time to read that book again. It has been about 2 or 3 months for me and there are so many things that I need to hear again and again that I want to read it again to further solidify those truths that are so precious, protective, and liberating.

Thanks for the reminder in that quote.

Have you seen the little Goodwin book I mentioned?

In Him,

Gerry


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