When you preached on earth, Lord, you found the divine words that were able to reach the hearts of your hearers. Your truth moved them deeply and prompted them to follow you and to live for you.
Lord, bless now the words of the preacher. Allow him to forget himself, his mediocrity, the effect he would like to produce, so that he can speak solely and in all truth of you and your doctrine.
So that he can say the things that all his listeners await, something that truly comes from you, laden with your love, filled with your wisdom, which is not the wisdom of this world.
Grant, Lord, that the Holy Spirit may pervade him, so that he may become a true mediator of your word. But give to us, his hearers, a good spirit, so that we may really hear your word and not simply indulge our mania for criticism–in our irritation at the mediocrity of what he has said and at the faulty manner in which he expressed it–to the point where we see only the preacher and his weakness, and nothing more of your word and Spirit.
Instead, let this hour become a holy hour in which the mediator and the hearer are united in your Spirit.
Helps us to welcome your word as the living word of God and allow it to work in us, so that we may take it home with us; so that a bit of the Church may spring up wherever we are; so that our week may be filled with the gift your grace gives us today.
Let us not forget what we have heard but rather build on it; give us the love it takes to build, let this love work in us.
Remain the light of our days, become the goal of our love, and bestow on us through this homily a new life in your faith, a life that is both prayer and work in your love. Amen.
- Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers, 15-17.
Prayer before preaching is essential because, without God’s help, we are useless.
In Deuteronomy 32 Moses is no doubt feeling quite a burden. You see, Moses is about to die–and he knows it. He is going to look into the eyes of the covenant community once again. He is going to preach and plead God’s character, promises, and threatenings to them. In the ensuing words of chapter 32 he uncorks one if the heaviest, pastoral, and most passionate sermons in print. Remember, it was this chapter that proved to be the sermon text for Edwards’ Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.
How does he begin?
May my teaching drop as the rain….For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! Deu. 32.2-3
The preacher’s burden has never changed, therefore his prayer remains the same. God–may you be pleased to use my words to magnify your name!
Moses knew himself, a dying man preaching to dying men (to use Baxter’s phrase). As a result, he did not long for such temporal and base things like what the crowd would think of him, how they would remember him, or how he would feel saying what needed to be said. Instead, he pleaded the living word of the living God! And in his prayer he struck the flint for God to light up his people with an awareness of God’s awesomeness and sin’s repulsiveness. Oh, that more preachers would preach a deep awareness of their own mortality as well as God’s eternality!
Whether you are stepping into the pulpit today or will be in the pews, this is they type of prayer that you can pray for the sermon: “May this teaching drop as the rain…may the name of the Lord be proclaimed, may he ascribe greatness to our God!
The best part about this: God answered the prayer. Read the sermon; it drips with God-centeredness.
As you ascend to the sacred desk, consider afresh the words of Deu. 32:
Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
2 May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distill as the dew,
like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
and like showers upon the herb.
3 For I will proclaim the name of the LORD;
ascribe greatness to our God! Dt 32:1-3.
Prayer Before Giving a Sermon
July 19, 2008 by Peg
One more item for my don’t-lose-this-you-will-need-it-in-the-future file…
“Lord Jesu! Teach thou me, that I may teach them: Sanctify and enable all my powers; that in their full strength they may deliver thy message reverently , readily, faithfully, and fruitfully. Oh, make thy word a swift word, passing from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the life and conversation: that as the rain returns not empty, so neither may they word, but accomplish that for which it is given. Oh Lord, hear, Oh Lord, forgive! Oh Lord, hearken, and do so for thy blessed Son’s sake, in whose sweet name we pray. — George Herbert, 1593-1633
Our Bible lesson tonight, takes place early in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. However, he has already been very busy.
He began his teaching ministry in Galilee where he was initially well received. But it wasn’t long until his teachings began to rub some people, particularly the religious leaders, the wrong way. His teaching caused them to have to move out of their very comfortable comfort zones and they didn’t like that.
The reaction he got was they wanted to throw him off a cliff (ever know somebody like that?)
From there he began his healing ministry beginning with a man possessed with an evil spirit, followed by a woman who had a high fever. This was followed by a man with leprosy. By now, his ability to heal was getting around. Next time people gathered around him there were so many people, that a small entourage made a hole in the roof and lowered a man who was paralyzed down to Jesus. Jesus was becoming a very popular person among the ill and the poor.
Interspersed between the stories of healing, Luke tells us of the times Jesus built relationships with fishermen, spent time socializing with sinners and tax collectors, and throughout people either continued to be amazed by his teaching and power, or developed murderous thoughts about him.
As we read the first few chapters of Luke’s story of Jesus, we see a man whose ministry is dynamic, energetic, intense, and highly motivating.
I can’t begin to imagine the drive it must have taken to cultivate such a successful ministry.
And yet, Luke makes it very clear to us that Jesus always found time to retreat to places alone and spend time in prayer.
It is an element key to the life of Jesus. It is an emphasis Luke, throughout his record, doesn’t want us to miss.
Jesus had a very active prayer life, spending a great deal of time in communion personally with God.
With the many followers Jesus has begun to accumulate, it should not surprise us at all, that we find him this evening, spending an entire night in prayer on the mountain, before making a most crucial decision – who will be his core group of followers that he will cultivate to be leaders with his church.
Tonight, we begin a journey, exploring our faith, exploring our discipleship.
Jesus calls each and every one of us to be his followers. Tonight we begin to explore what that means – to be a follower of Jesus.
What kind of person might we become? What sort of changes would we need to make in our life?
What sort of habits do we need to cultivate?
And I believe as we consider where we are on the journey and explore where we might go from here, we will ask ourselves how our lives might be different.
In the days ahead, we will be looking at exploring the Bible, God’s word, at what faithful worship attendance means, at supporting the ministry of our Lord both financially and physically. Tonight we begin by exploring our prayer life, and as I read these words about Jesus this evening, I am led to ask what our lives might be like
if we pray before making decisions in the way in which Jesus prayed before making decisions.
I don’t remember praying and asking God’s guidance before picking my closest companions as Jesus did. I have to wonder, what will my life be like if I do so in the future – and not only praying before picking my friends, but what will life be like asking for God’s guidance before all such decisions in life?
Shortly after Jesus’ resurrection and after he ascended into heaven, Jesus’ followers found themselves with a decision to make. Jesus obviously took a lot of time and went to a great deal of trouble picking those who would be leaders in his ministry.
One of the 12 – Judas – was dead. The disciples felt it was imperative to find a replacement for him and keep the number of church leaders to 12.
And so they prayed.
They asked for God’s guidance and God’s blessing. They drew lots, and through the drawing of lots, the new replacement was discerned. It appears that the disciples found divine intervention in the way the lot fell.
I have to confess, I don’t think I have it all boxed up so neatly as they appear to have. I just don’t think that if I pray every time, God will tell me which home to live in, which car I should buy, which company I should invest my money in, which novel I should pick to read.
I just don’t think God operates that way.
And yet, we then find ourselves in a dilemma. Why pray before making decisions if God’s not going to tell us what to do?