Friday, July 7, 2017
1 Timothy 4:16 "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you."
One of the most important tasks a pastor has in his weekly schedule is determining what he will preach the following Sunday morning. Even though this post aims to unveil what goes through a pastor's mind in preparing to preach, all readers who value God's Word will hopefully find it illuminating and helpful. So how does a preacher arrive at the choice of text he is going to preach? the place to start is prayer.
Prayer begins the process of determining the direction of the next sermon
How often ought the preacher be praying during the process of his sermon preparation? Truly the beginning of the next sermon begins as soon as the last sermon was preached. Praying before, during and after the sermon is essential. Prayer has a way of checking one's motives (James 4:1-4) and discerning, by the scripture, what direction to go in the sermon preparation process (1 Timothy 4:13-16). The famed 19th century theologian B.B Warfield was well-known for his staggering intellect in the realm of theology. He taught those studying for the ministry. When asked about where prayer fits in the process of sermon preparation, he wisely responded:
"Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. “What!” is the appropriate response, “than ten hours over your books, on your knees?” Why should you turn from God when you turn to your books, or feel that you must from your books in order to turn to God?"
The preacher who is desperate for God to show up in His study and preparation will experience God showing up during his delivery of the sermon.
A sermon prepared without prayer is like grilling steak with no coals. The sermon can be finely trimmed, thick with content and juicy with abundant illustrations. Yet, unless the preacher has taken that sermon before the Lord, it will never become an edible message to be digested by the congregation. The man of God must sift his thoughts through the sieve of prayer to cut out any unnecessary additives.
The preacher who prays depends upon the congregation that prays
As the man of God gives himself to prayer, he has the leverage to encourage his congregation to do the same. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 6:19 "and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel." The best thing a people can do for their pastor is to pray for him (1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Hebrews 13:18). As one dear saint told me not to long ago: "pastor, rather than put you on a pedestal, I'm going to hold you up in prayer as you preach". Do you know how much that encourages a pastor? Those church members who are regularly praying for their pastor must also pray that they themselves will have a heart and mind ready to receive the message for that day.
Today's post aimed to begin thinking about how anyone involved in the preaching ministry of the Word may sense a direction for knowing what to preach. We suggested that the only appropriate place to begin is prayer. Both the pastor and his congregation are to labor in prayer for one another. Only by hitching the sermon to prayer can it be turned into a message that God can use to change and transform lives.