Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Necessity of Prayer in Sermon Prep

Think for a moment about preaching. In that moment a man walks up to a pulpit, opens his Bible, and begins to speak. He is standing before the congregation and endeavoring to speak to them on behalf of God. He is not giving new words from God but declaring what God has already said and pressing home the implications today. For most, it’s difficult enough to speak in front of people, but how much more to do so on God’s behalf? But it’s not simply the presence of the people gathered and the content of what is said that can make a preacher’s knees knock. The fact is, God himself is there. The shadow from the King’s scepter casts an unmoving shadow upon the pulpit. God, the glorious King, is there. Sobering stuff indeed.

Little wonder then that preachers ask for prayer when they preach. Feeling the weight of the task of speaking Christ in the sight of God any honest person would likely assert their own inadequacy (2 Cor. 2:16-17). O, how we need prayer.

There is a tendency though, while feeling the weight of preaching, to forget our need for help in preparation. Most preachers I know spend about 10 to 15 hours a week in sermon preparation in order to preach for 30 to 45 minutes. This means our preaching is about 5 percent of our preparation. This is a lot of work on the cutting board before serving up the plate. And the preparation is so important. We linger long over the text: meditating upon it, carefully exegeting it, discerning the author’s intention, wrestling through interpretation, and considering how it applies in our context. This work is as vital to the sermon as preparing food is to a good meal. We simply cannot overstate the importance and necessity of faithful, diligent study.

Do we give our study proportional prayer? I often hear ministers ask for prayer for their preaching, but rarely do I hear requests for their study. I am guilty of doing this very thing. Furthermore, we tend to weight our own prayer for the sermon towards the delivery of it. Why do we do this? As I consider this a few reasons come to mind. Read More

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