Rotating Header Image

praying for your sermon – lynne baab

What does it look like to pray effectively as a part of sermon preparation? What kinds of things do I typically pray for? What possibilities am I missing in my prayers before preaching?

I’ve been pondering these questions recently, and I noticed several different patterns of prayer for my sermons. Perhaps reading about these patterns will help you evaluate your own patterns of praying for your sermons.

  1. Prayer for before, during and after. This scheme for prayer considers three different aspects of a sermon based on time.
  • I pray for before the sermon: for my own preparation and for the preparation of the hearts of the hearers.
  • I pray for the delivery of the sermon, that God will give me smoothness and good pacing as I speak, and that God will guide what I say to add or subtract words or ideas according to God’s will. The “during the sermon” prayer also includes prayer for the receptivity of the worshippers.
  • I pray for the response after the sermon. I pray that listeners will remember something I said that will enable them to draw near to God and serve God during the week. I pray the same for myself.
  1. Prayer for the “big idea.” In my preaching classes in seminary, the teachers emphasised that every sermon should have a “big idea,” a main point that can be expressed in one or two sentences. I pray that God will give me a clear and helpful main point for the sermon that comes clearly from scripture. I usually begin to pray for the “big idea” early in the sermon preparation process, perhaps long before the main point has become clear to me. I pray that all the subpoints and illustrations will undergird that main point and help it to become real to worshippers.
  2. Prayer for my goals in preaching. The other day I listened to a recorded sermon by a friend. She is a deeply faithful stay-at-home mother who is invited to preach once every year or two in her congregation. She opened her sermon with this thought: “Whenever I have the privilege of preaching, I always hope that you’ll come away with a deeper love for the scriptures. I always hope you’ll feel called to read the scriptures often.” She then went on to read the passage she would be preaching from.

If I were to say my primary goal in preaching, there would be two components: “Whenever I have the privilege of preaching, I always hope the listeners will come away with a strong sense of God’s invitation to draw near with all of our deepest thoughts and feelings. I also hope listeners will hear and respond to God’s call to serve and love with joy in this hurting world.” I would very seldom, if ever, say those words during a sermon, but I can pray that each particular sermon would serve those goals.

  1. Prayer that the good news would be clear and inviting. A sermon is different from a talk. When we preach, we have the great privilege of being a transparent window that gives a view of something beyond the window: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can pray that this particular sermon would present the gospel clearly and in a way that draws people closer to Jesus, wherever they are and whatever they are bringing into worship.

What do you pray for before you preach? How could you deepen your prayers for your sermons?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *