PREPARING FOR THE LORD’S SUPPER

by John Olson

Help me, O God, to be rightly prepared to receive the sacrament. Take away any unbelief and overcome any doubts that I may have. Lord Jesus, give me a believing heart that the words “for You” truly are for me. Amen.

Whenever we come to the Lord’s Supper, we should remind ourselves of why we come and what we expect to find here.

WHY SHOULD I COME TO THE LORD’S TABLE?

Christ commands me to come. With this command He gives me this promise:

As surely as I see with my eyes the bread broken and the cup given, so I know for certain that Christ became a real human being and poured out His blood on the cross.

As surely as I take the bread and cup in my hand and taste them with my mouth, so I know for certain that Christ nourishes and refreshes my soul with His crucified body and blood. [Mt.26.26-28; 1 Cor 11.23-25]

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME TO EAT AND DRINK THE LORD’S SUPPER?

It means that I accept with a believing heart the entire suffering and death of Christ for me. It means that by believing I am forgiven all my sins and now have eternal life.

This is not magic. Eating the bread and drinking the cup does not wash away my sins. Only Christ can remove my sins, and that happens when I put my faith in Him.

WHAT BENEFITS THEN DO I RECEIVE BY COMING TO THE LORD’S SUPPER?

My sins are exposed for what they really are before a Holy God. My heart is inflamed with love for Christ. I am reminded of all that He suffered for me. My faith in Christ is strengthened. I not only hear with my ears what He has done for me, but I can also see, smell, taste, and touch the tokens of His suffering and death on my behalf. My hope that one day I will live with Christ is made more certain. Although His resurrection body is in heaven at the right hand of the Father and I am still here on earth, the Lord’s Supper reinforces His promise that He will one day raise my mortal body and take me home to heaven to be with Him.

WHAT IF I KNOW THAT I’M NOT PERFECT?

I may come when I know myself to be a sinner and am displeased with myself because of my sin, yet come trusting in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of my sin. I may come when I know myself to be weak and in need of Christ to strengthen my faith and when I desire Him to enable me to live a better life.

WHY DOES JESUS USE BREAD AND DRINK?

Jesus is teaching me that, just as bread and drink nourish my temporal life here, so His crucified body and poured-out blood truly nourish my spiritual life.

Jesus uses this visible sign and pledge to assure me that all that He has done for me in His perfect obedience, suffering, and death is certainly mine. I take the bread and the cup in my own hand and with my own mouth and am assured that what Jesus gives to sinners is given to me personally.

WHAT SHOULD I THINK AS THE ELEMENTS ARE DISTRIBUTED?

As I take the bread, I remember to thank God

that Christ took up a human body

that He was tempted just as I am

that He was willing to suffer for me

that He lived a hard life in a poor family

that He was willing to be misunderstood

As I take the cup, I remember to thank God

that Jesus poured out His blood for me

that He saves me from the guilt of my sin

that He sets me free from the power of sin

that I now have the righteousness of Christ

that I will live and reign with Christ forever

A PRAYER BEFORE COMMUNION

“My Lord Christ, I have fallen; I would gladly be strong. For this purpose You have instituted the sacrament, that with it we may rekindle and strengthen our faith and be helped. Therefore, I am to receive it. Behold, Lord, it is Your word. My weakness and failings are known to You. You Yourself have said: Come unto Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. I now come to be helped. Amen.”

PRAYERS AFTER COMMUNION

“We thank You, Lord God, that You have refreshed us with this precious gift, and we ask for Your mercy, that You would let it nurture in us strong faith toward You and intensive love among us all, through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord. Amen.”

 

“Almighty and Everliving God, we thank You that, in Your great love, You have fed us at Your Table with this spiritual food and have assured us of Your goodness toward us; and that we are members of the mystical Body of Your Son. We ask You, Heavenly Father, to assist us with Your grace, that we may continue in this holy fellowship, and live henceforth to Your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

 

“O God, keep my mind and heart focused on the main thing in the sacrament. It is not eating and drinking that brings such great benefits, but the words, ‘given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.’ enable me to continue to believe these words so that I may have exactly what they say, forgiveness of sins. Amen.”

SCRIPTURES FOR MEDITATION

  • The Penitential Psalms: Psalm 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143
  • Isaiah 53, 55, 59
  • Gospel of John 13-17
  • Romans 3, 6, 8, 12

HYMNS FOR MEDITATION: [as found in the Trinity Hymnal]

  • “Stricken, smitten, and afflicted” [192]
  • “No, not despairingly” [411]
  • “We have not known thee as we ought.” [418]
  • “My Jesus, I love thee” [547]
  • “Jesus, thou Joy of loving hearts” [549]

FOR INSTRUCTION ON THE LORD’S SUPPER READ:

  • The Heidelberg Catechism, Questions 78-82
  • Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapters 27, 29
  • Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 96-97
  • John Calvin’s Institutes, Book IV, Chapters 14, 17
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