It’s a lot of work preparing a sermon (and even that is a major understatement!). So if we pastors are going to put all of this effort in, isn’t it right to believe for a great return on that investment?
I’ve got good news and bad news for you—and they’re both the same. Pastor, after all of your hard work preparing your message, there is only one thing you can do: pray.
Sounds simple, right? But if it’s so simple, why are so many church attendees unmoved by the sermons they hear each Sunday (check out this Barna report)?
Here is some good counsel of how we should pray—
“Of what efficacy would be the exterior word of pastors, or even the Scriptures themselves, if we had not within the word of the Holy Spirit giving to the others all their vitality? The outward word, even of the Gospel, without the fecundating, vivifying, interior word would be but an empty sound. ‘It is the letter alone that kills (2 Corinthians 3:6), and the Spirit alone can give us life.’” —Francois Fenelon
“Does anyone of us desire to help the Church of Christ? Then let him pray for a great outpouring of the Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can give edge to sermons, and point to advice, and power to rebukes, and can cast down the high walls of sinful hearts. It is not better preaching, and finer writing that is needed in this day—but more of the presence of the Holy Spirit.” —J.C. Ryle
If I can add my two cents’ worth to these eminent theologians:
- Pray before you write your sermon
- Pray while you’re writing your sermon
- Pray before you deliver your sermon
- Pray after you deliver your sermon
And then watch what the Holy Spirit does with your sermon!