“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

—Romans 12:1

How do you please God? Have you ever thought about that question?

I know I’ve thought about how to please people. There are lots of people I want to please—my wife, my parents, my wife’s parents (happy in-laws=happy wife; happy wife=happy life). I think we all want to please people, to different degrees or another. We want to make people happy, or at least not miserable.

But what about God? What do we do to please God? And more importantly, what does God find pleasing in us?

In the Old Testament they used to make sacrifices to God, whether living animals or grain or money. They would make their offerings to the Lord as a way to please Him. Now, you can try to do that as much as you want. You can do things that you think will please God, like going to church and reading your Bible and giving to charity. You can try and try and try to please God. But you won’t. Why? Because it was never about the sacrifice, or the thing that you might do, in and of itself.

Psalm 51:16-17 says, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

This is why Paul calls us to present our bodies, our whole selves as a living sacrifice. Because more than anything in the world, the thing that pleases God the most is having a people that depend on him, that need him, that come to him with all of who they are. He doesn’t need a perfect people. He needs a broken and contrite people. And so we come to him in prayer to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable.

I think a lot of us struggle with prayer because we still hold onto a deep belief that we are not good enough to approach a holy God. We aren’t holy, therefore, we can’t be acceptable. And so, we say, what good are my prayers? But let’s not miss the point. It’s not on our own ground that we stand when we pray. It’s “by the mercies of God” that we are able to come to him in prayer and offer a pleasing sacrifice.

Remember when Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened and the voice of God came down saying, “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus is the one who pleases God. Everything Jesus did was holy and acceptable to God because Jesus made himself the perfect living sacrifice. He lived his life for God. And then he gave himself up to death for us. He took our brokenness to the grave so that, by the mercy of God, through the sacrifice of His son on the cross, we would be made holy and acceptable. There isn’t any more work that has to be done. It’s finished. Stopped trying to please God and instead just come to him as you are.

You see, our job now is, by the mercy of God in Christ, to present ourselves to Him. How do I present myself to God, you ask? You come to him in prayer. You are a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, by what Christ has done for you. Now just present yourself to Him. This is your spiritual worship. And God loves it!

I invite you to join us this Sunday at 6pm for our monthly prayer gathering.