I’m a planner. I like to plan out my personal schedule. I also like to plan out my preaching schedule. Near the end of each calendar year, I spend an extended time in prayer asking God to show me what He would like me to share with my congregation in the upcoming new year.
By no means should this override being Spirit-directed in the moment. I need to remain sensitive to the “course corrections” that the Holy Spirit wants me to make, but I also think planning ahead is using His wisdom as well.
As I approach each week’s message preparation time, there is a temptation to just stick with the plan, no matter what. After all, I know what I’ve prayerfully planned, so I can just get down to the business of crafting a sermon, right?
This wise counsel from George Mueller—a pastor that was preeminent in prayer—helps me to check my impulses…
“Rather than presuming to know what is best for the hearers, I ask the Lord to graciously teach me the subject I should speak about.”
My prayer goes something like this: “Lord, You know I will be speaking this Sunday; You know each person who is going to attend our service this week; You know exactly what they have been going through and what they are about to go through; You know exactly what they need to hear this week, so speak those words to me now.”
How arrogant for me to say, “Lord, here’s my sermon. Please bless it.”
Instead I need to pray, “Lord, what message will you bless? Please speak those words to me.”
Pastor, please don’t presume to know what is best for your congregation, but ask the One who truly knows to give you His timely word.