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how much should I pray for my sermon? – robyn mellar-smith


When I was training for ministry at Carey Baptist College a few years ago, one of our lecturers challenged us to consider spending as much time in prayer for our sermon as writing the sermon.

That’s quite a challenge!

For starters, for most ministers, there doesn’t appear to be enough hours in the week to do all the things that seem to need doing. One of the most difficult tasks for me as a fulltime sole pastor of a NZ Baptist church has been working out where best to spend my time. The sermon is very important to me, but it already takes a sizeable chunk of my average week to prepare one (some weeks more than others!) How can I commit the equal amount of time to prayer for my message?

On the other hand, those sermons that God seems to touch in special ways, do impact people’s lives. I have seen listeners strengthened, encouraged and brought to a place of change in Christ, when God has moved in their hearts through the message.

What sort of time should be given to praying for the sermon?

For me, the answer has come by trying to make my whole life one of prayer, rather than spending a specific time on my knees begging God to do something special with my message. I am still very much a learner, but since I have committed to spending a good half-hour first thing every morning with God, and then checking back in at least twice more in a day (usually after lunch, and then again in the evening) I am more likely to hear anything God wishes to say to me, and I am more trusting that He will do something with the sermon.

I do have a special prayer I pray while I am writing the message, then again on Saturdays when pulling it together, and then before I speak. It goes something like, “Help, Lord, please do something with this message. Please use it for your glory.” (Imagine this said with desperation some weeks!)

And you know what? I find that most of the time He does do something.

Having preached week in and week out, off and on for a few years now, I can testify to God’s faithfulness; that even weeks where I actually thought the sermon was going to be rubbish, He has graciously shown up and moved in people’s lives anyway!

In the end, it’s all about Him. No matter how poor or great a speaker I am, God is the only one who can bring transformation.

I’m glad, because that takes a lot of pressure off me. Sure I still do the work of preparation. Sure I still pray. But it’s what God does when He takes my paltry offering and anoints it that truly changes lives.

To Him alone be the glory!

One Comment

  1. David Julian says:

    Hey Robyn, great blog. I agree that it is hard to fit everything into a week. I am also amazed at how God uses our voice to further His work.

    I often pray the prayer that you pray:)

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