If you feel your ministry needs to be revitalised and more productive, this is for you! Whether writing a sermon, planning a Sunday School lesson, organising a youth talk or preparing a small group Bible study − focused prayer during preparation is the key.
The devil will let a man prepare a sermon if that will keep him from preparing himself. — Vance Havner
A few years ago Michael McKinley posted an article on www.9marks.org. Unfortunately it seems not to be available online now.
Entitled 8 Ways to Pray During Sermon Preparation, it carried excellent advice for any of us who present the Bible, whatever age group our listeners fall into.
Establishing a pattern
Most pastors develop a rhythm with their sermon preparation. You find a way that “works” for you and you pretty much stick with it. But until you have the pattern established, it can be messy. And one of the areas with which I struggled at the beginning was how prayer fit into my sermon preparation.
I knew that I should pray, that in fact I must pray, as part of getting ready to teach God’s Word. But I don’t remember getting much advice about how to pray when preparing a message. And while there’s obviously not just one helpful way to do it, here are eight brief prayers that can be used while writing a sermon:
- Lord, please help me to understand the meaning of this text and how it points to Christ.
- Lord, please increase my love for the people who will hear this sermon.
- Lord, please give me wisdom to apply this text to the lives of the people in our congregation.
- Lord, please use this passage to help me grasp and love the gospel more so that I might help my hearers do the same.
- Lord, please help me to see how this passage confronts the unbelief of my hearers.
- Lord, please help me to be obedient to the demands of this passage. Help me to enter the pulpit having already submitted my life to this truth before I preach it.
- Lord, by your Spirit please help me to preach this sermon with the necessary power and with appropriate affections.
- Lord, please use this sermon to bring glory to your name, joy to your people, and salvation to the lost.
A practical checklist
Quoting this list from Michael McKinley, Tim Challies extends it with a practical checklist to help when preparing a sermon.
He prefaces his check list with these words:
I wanted something to use as I near the end of my preparation and want to ensure that what I have prepared is well-structured and that it will avoid missteps that may prove hindrances to my listeners. I spoke to seasoned pastors to find what they do and developed this checklist which I like to run through when the sermon is nearly complete, and return to shortly before I preach the sermon.
You can find Tim’s excellent comments at Vertical Living Ministries.
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