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Preparing for the Lord’s Supper

Help me, O God, to be rightly prepared to receive the Supper. 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.

What is the Lord’s Supper?

The Lord’s supper was instituted by the Lord on the same night in which He was betrayed. It is to be observed in His churches to the world’s end, for a perpetual remembrance of Him and to show forth the sacrifice of Himself in His death. It was instituted also to confirm saints in the belief that all the benefits stemming from Christ’s sacrifice belong to them. Furthermore, it is meant to promote their spiritual nourishment and growth in Christ, and to strengthen the ties that bind them to all the duties they owe to Him. The Lord’s supper is also a bond and pledge of the fellowship which believers have with Christ and with one another.

Those who, as worthy participants, outwardly eat and drink the visible bread and wine in this ordinance, at the same time receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and receive all the benefits accruing from His death. This they do really and indeed, not as if feeding upon the actual flesh and blood of a person’s body, but inwardly and by faith. In the supper the body and blood of Christ are present to the faith of believers, not in any actual physical way, but in a way of spiritual apprehension, just as the bread and wine themselves are present to their outward physical senses.

In short:

  • The Supper is a remembrance of Him. [Luke 22:19]
  • The Supper is our communion with Him. [1 Cor 10:16]
  • The Supper is our fellowship with the body of Christ and especially the local body. [1 Cor 11:18,20]
  • The Supper is a commemoration of His death. [1 Cor 11:26]

Should I Take the Lord’s Supper?

Christ’s invitation to the Supper is for me if I am presently repenting of my sin and trusting Christ for salvation, I am baptized and have publicly confessed Christ, I demonstrate by my life membership with a local church, and I have exercised my responsibility to heal broken relationships with other members of the body. All who partake apart from Christ’s invitation do so under the judgment of the Lord.

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 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 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 Jesus Christ, I have fallen; I long to be strong. For this purpose You have instituted this meal, to help us rekindle and strengthen our faith. Therefore, you have called me to receive it. Lord, it is Your word that invites me. You know my weakness and failings completely. 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.

A Prayer for Those Searching

Oh God, I am discovering that the more I have, the more I need to have, the more I am loved, the more I need to be loved, the more I achieve, the more I need to achieve. Nothing seems to satisfy me. “Nothing tastes.” Could it be, as someone once said, that “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” Dear God, if this is true, and if as the Bible teaches there is life and life eternal in Christ alone, please guide me to Him. Open me to the reality of the One who alone can satisfy my restless heart. Give me the courage to believe that which I cannot see but can understand, feel and touch through the Word, sacraments and church family. Lord I want to believe, please help me in my unbelief! Amen.

A Prayer for Belief

Lord God, I now see that I am weaker and more flawed than I ever before believed, but in Christ, I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. Even as I have not loved You or my neighbor with all of my heart, You have shown Your love for me in that while I am still sinning, Christ died for me and took upon Himself the condemnation that I deserve. I now know that You owe me nothing for my efforts, but You offer acceptance, love and blessing into all eternity because of Christ’s efforts on my behalf. I therefore ask that You would enable me to turn away from trusting in my own efforts to gain Your acceptance and forgiveness, and trust in the perfectly righteous efforts of Christ on my behalf in order to be accepted by You and entered into Your holy family. And just as You raised Christ from the dead, so too I ask that You would give me a new life in Christ, one that will lead eventually to Heaven itself. Thank you for Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit to believe in Him alone for my salvation. And as You have called us to follow You in baptism and in a life of committed discipleship in Your church, grant that I may take the necessary steps to be one with Your people, and live in the fullness of Your Spirit. Amen.

Prayers After Communion

We thank You, Lord God, that You have refreshed us with this precious gift. We ask for Your mercy, that You would use this meal to nurture in us strong faith toward You and genuine love among us all, through Jesus Christ Your Son. Amen. 

Almighty and Ever-loving God, we thank You that You have fed us at Your Table with this spiritual food and have assured us of Your goodness toward us. We thank You that we are members of the Body of Your Son. Assist us with Your grace, so that we may continue in this holy fellowship, and live more fully to Your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

O God, keep my mind and heart focused on the main thing in the Supper. 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 confidence that forgiveness of sins is mine. Amen.

Resources for Preparing for the Lord’s Supper

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