Dear Father in Heaven,
As Your preachers stand before Your people to preach Your Word on Sunday, we do so with the realization that many of Your people will be hurting. We know that sitting in those pews there will be people with broken hearts, broken homes, broken lives, and broken spirits.
Help us, Dear God, to remember that the best thing we can do for those who are broken is to bring comfort, peace, concern, understanding, and love, through Your Word. Father, we know that some of these men will do their best to preach Your peace through their own tears and their own pain. Please fill their hearts and their minds with the knowledge that You will not forsake them. Please give them a special measure of Your comfort as they minister to the lives of those who are broken. In the Name of the One who mends all broken hearts, we pray, Amen.
On this weekend as many of us have practiced the godly art of gratitude our thoughts have turned to how thankful we are for the Glorious Gospel. This Good News gives us hope, purpose, faith, assurance of Your love for and commitment to saving us. It reminds us of Your men who teach and preach that Good News. We are grateful for each of them. We are thankful for how they hold forth Your Light. We are thankful for their perseverance in challenging settings. We are thankful for their faithfulness in good days and in difficult one. We are thankful for how they care for and minister to Your People. We are thankful for how they strive to be optimistic as they struggle against their own issues, sins, weaknesses, adversaries. We are thankful for their consistency in an inconsistent world. We are thankful for their willingness to speak truth in a time when it seems to be in style to compromise. We are thankful for how they struggle to balance time with family, study, personal development, ministry and life. We are thankful for their admissions of frailty and humility and the need of Your grace. We are thankful that they will first preach the sermon they will deliver tomorrow to themselves. We are thankful that even though many will enter into difficult environments they wil go forth in Your joy. We are thankful that they will do their best even when they may not feel their best. We are thankful for these souls who so love You and respect Your word. May they remember that You love them and may that sustain them against any enemy or trepidation they may face. And, Father, may their heart find joy tomorrow.
In Jesus Name,
We approach Your Wonderful Throne today in behalf of the men who will Preach Your Word this week. Our prayer today is that You will bring them peace of mind and comfort in their heart. Please comfort any of Your men who are struggling in their marriage. Please comfort those who are dealing with physical or emotional pain. Father, please bring comfort to Your men who are hurting because of the serious illness of their spouse, a child, a parent, or a friend. We pray that You will bring comfort to those who might be struggling with their leaders or someone who is a part of the Church they serve. Father, please comfort Your men who might feel stress because of financial concerns or any other concerns that may burden their heart. Dear God, because we know that You are the God of all comfort, we pray that Your comfort would rest on Your men around the world this weekend as they seek to bring comfort to Your people. In the Name of the Savior who comforts us, we pray, Amen.
We ask that you bless those who will preach tomorrow. May the faith they preach about be evident and active in their preaching. May the faith they preach be the faith they embrace. May the be both faithful and faith-filled in their words. May the risks they take be ones that evidence faith in You. May it be clear by their faith that they are men who believe in You, are faithful to You, and live out their faith in their own lives. May that faith aid them in their preaching as they trust You to care for them more than any other. May they be both faithful and faith-filled.
In Jesus Name,
Dear Heavenly Father,
How blessed we are to be able to be your spokesmen. Many of Your men have spent countless hours in prayer and study so that they might be the kind of mouthpiece You desire them to be. All of Your preachers live with the understanding that You have commanded us to preach Your Word, in season and out of season.
We believe that You have revealed Yourself to us through Your Word and You have given us the message that You want us to proclaim. Holy Father, may the Words that come out of our mouths, be Your Words. May the thoughts we have studied be acceptable first to You and then as we present them, may they be useful to those who hear. In the Name of our Savior, we Pray, Amen.
Today we pray for the one reading and joining with us in this prayer. As he reviews notes, prepares thoughts, considers his own life in light of the joyous, challenging mission to speak Your truths into the hearts of people tomorrow may his heart be focused on You and Your Will. Thank You for him, for the manner in which he strives to live his life, for the compassion He has for Your Word, for the love he has for Your People. May each of these be evident as he teaches tomorrow.
In Our Lord’s Name,
Dear Loving Father,
We confess to You that we are weak. In our human weakness, there are times that we do not feel like preaching. It may be due to weariness from a busy season of life. It may be due to our being sick or someone we love who is ill. It may be due to disappointment over how someone has treated us. It may be that our heart isn’t in it like it should be. Father, Please bless your man who finds himself in this place today. Please bless Him with an extraordinary measure of Your Grace. Please let Him know that You love him. Please help us remember that through the ages, You have used weak men to accomplish great things for You. Please help us never forget that You have promised that You will always be with us. In Jesus Name we Pray, Amen.
We ask that You bless Your men who will stand before Your People tomorrow. Bless those who will listen. May obstacles to communication be few and may hearts be open to receive. I pray you will use his words to mend up those whose hearts are broken, to comfort those for whom life seems unmanageable, to confront those who have become hardened in sin, to challenge those whose faith become lukewarm, to encourage those who have become disheartened, to renew the faith of those who have become disillusioned, to spur on the use of the gifted, to reinforce the hope of those near the end of this journey, and to help the lost see Your Way. May Your Word be revered, Your Name be Glorified, and Your Son be lifted up.
In His Name,
Dear Father in Heaven,
Tomorrow we will gather with Your Family. We thank You that those of us who preach are a part of Your Family as well. May we never forget that crucial fact. As we gather, many of us will be hurting. Some will be suffering from their own physical pain. Some will be in great mental duress over the pain of someone close to us, or because of something that has happened to us.
Many of those of us who are a part of Your Family are tired. We are tired of politics, mass media, and social media. We are tired of how some Christians behave toward brothers and sisters in Jesus.
Dear God, Your Family, including Your preachers, are in desperate need of a place to rest from the weariness of life. We ask that You grant to Your men, a special measure of wisdom. Help us to speak life-giving and life-changing words, Your Words. Help us, through these words to bring rest to the weary soul. Help us to offer an oasis in the desert. Help us to drink deeply from the Water of Life. Help us to feed Your flock with the richness that can nourish their souls. Please allow Your Son, Your Gospel, Your Hope, Your Grace, Your Mercy, and Your Life to overflow from us to Your People.
In Jesus Name we Pray, Amen
Thank You so much for each of these Your servants who will stand before souls and speak truth tomorrow. May Your love and grace be on them and shine through them. May they remember that what they deal with is bigger than the news cycle, than the politics whether local or national, that the issues they deal with are much larger than any petty matter that might shake their confidence. Father, may they know that You do not work in just numbers but that Your work is done before 10’s or 10’s of thousands. That whether they present before a handful or a building full, Your desire is that Your Word be spoken in truth and my they therein rejoice and receive satisfaction. We thank You Father for each of them and for Your use of their lives and skills for Your purposes.
In Jesus Name,
These men who will stand tomorrow and try to teach and bring light into the life of others with Your Truths are human. They hear from people who do not like them, who do not like their style, who constantly correct their grammar, who let them know any Word they misquote, who remember every mistake they have ever made, who keep account of their flaws. This can be daunting, so Father, may they rest securely in the knowledge that they are loved. That even through they may feel that the whole world is against them, there are many who love them deeply, respect them, care about them. And that the many who they feel are against them, in reality are only a few loud talkers. And most of all may they be reminded of the great truth – that You, Father, Son, Spirit, love them with an unquenchable passion. They know many things, they know the Text, they know their outline, the know their own issues, they know the slippery spots, they know the count, but may they know You love them purely. May that knowledge propel them to be free as they live in and share that love with souls tomorrow and each tomorrow that follows.
In Jesus Name,
Dear Father in Heaven, We thank You for the marvelous mandate that You have called upon us to follow. We thank You for giving us Your Word to guide us in our preparation and in the proclamation.
Dear God, we pray that You will bless every one of Your preachers who will attempt to preach Your Word on Sunday. Help us realize that we are not alone. Help us realize that we stand in a long line of men who preach. Help us recognize that we are surrounded by our preaching brothers, as well as brothers & sisters around the world who are praying for us. Help us remember that You have promised to be with us as we do Your work. Thank You, Father, for these precious promises. In Jesus Name we Pray, Amen.
Giver of all that is Good, our Father in Heaven
Tonight I am thankful for these humble servants who will stand and present Your truths tomorrow. I am thankful for how they enter into the mess of the sometimes tangled, sometimes beautiful, always changing lives of others and speak Truth. Thank You for the boldness that that effort takes. Thank You for the depth of stored faith that that requires. Thank You for the grace they exhibit in the presence of pain, for the measure of love they extol in the midst of hurt. I’m thankful for when they pray with parents of a newborn, when they dry their sleeves in the presence of victory over the evil one, when they walk closely with a family in the shadow of death. This is not little work they do, but massive, soul-work, spiritual work, eternity touching work. I pray that they will realize that it matters and that they will feel Your presence in such work and that that realization will life them higher in this task. Father, I’m thankful for the reflection of You that I see in their lives. Bless them as they bring the best, most important Message of all time tomorrow.
In Jesus Name,
Holy Father in Heaven, every time we come before thy throne, we are reminded of our weakness and Thy great power. Each time we stand before Thy people to preach the Word, we are reminded of our flaws and Thy faithfulness. Dear God, whenever we seek to minister to others, we see our inadequacies and Thy perfection.
Father, we pray that You will bless Your men who preach tomorrow. Please help us remember that numbers do not measure success, crowd response does not measure success, confidence in our abilities does not measure success, and success is not measured by how good we feel about the sermon.
May we never forget that we are successful when we obey Your Will and Your Word. Help us be aware that if we preach the truth in love, You are pleased. Therefore, help all of Your men who preach tomorrow, seek to please You alone. With this in mind, dear God, we pray that these men will rest well tonight, and arise in the morning with hearts that are on fire for You.
In Jesus Name we Pray, AMEN.
One of the joys of what we get to do has been the honor of praying for you, our fellow ministers. We are so very thankful for you and the work you do. We want to pray for you today and tomorrow individually. Every week we send out a prayer for all of God’s ministers. This week we want to be more specific. We know many of you carry tremendous weight and burdens and many of you deal with great hurt and many of you have simple hearts of joy and gratitude. We are thankful for that. So this week. What can we pray for YOU or your family about? This will be private between God and jeff and dale and you. Either text us at 972-861-2434 or email us at [email protected]ejenkinsinstittue.com. Today and tomorrow we will pray for you and your needs. And blessings to you as you stand before God’s People and speak tomorrow.
Dear Father in Heaven, As Your men stand to proclaim the Word tomorrow, we do so with the realization that many who hear us will be hurting. May We use everything that is in us to deliver a message of healing, comfort, peace, hope, compassion, and love.
Father, we also know that many of Your men who will preach on Sunday are hurting as well. As You know, Dear God, some of Your men are in physical pain, some are in mental distress, some are struggling spiritually. There are some of Your men who are going through marriage difficulty, problems with their children, and financial stress. Some of them have had disagreements with their elders and they are concerned about their future. Some of Your men are dealing with the continued grief from losing their wife, a child, or someone else close to them. Some of Your preachers are taking care of a sick child, or parent, or their wife.
Please give these men the physical, mental, and spiritual strength they need to preach through their pain. Please give us peace when our souls are troubled. Help us to cast all of our cares on You, knowing that You are aware and that You care. Thank You, Father for loving us and for the promise that You will be with us always.
In Jesus Name we Pray,
Thank You for how You have used individuals through the centuries for Your purposes. For those times where You have allowed, empowered, and strengthened men to be a part of Your plan. And while these Your preachers today may never feel they have made the difference like those of old, may they be reminded that as they do Your Will that is effective. Help them to remember those times in the past when You have used them in ways big and small to influence souls, to encourage brethren, to affect the world around them. And, Father, may these memories energize and encourage them as they stand before people tomorrow. For ministers wish to be used and useful. Use them again for good. Help them to know they are loved and needed. Thank You for using clay to carry out your cause.
In Jesus Name,
We are thankful for Your men around the world who love You supremely. We pray that none of us who attempt to preach Your Word will ever forget how much You love us.
Please help us dear God, to rest in this love. We pray that this love will sustain us when we feel weak. We pray that this love will motivate us to proclaim Your love to others. We pray that this love will overflow with grace as we deal with people who are difficult. We pray that this love will allow us to be everything that You want us to be.
Father, we thank You for your love for us and we thank you for every man who will proclaim Your message of love this week.
In Jesus Name we Pray,
These men who stand before others are humans. We are often weak, our faith is shaken by the oddest of things, our confidence is too often in ourselves and not in Thee. And, as we even disappoint ourselves we are reminded how deeply we need You. As we face our own human weaknesses and they tempt us toward distraction may we see You in Your glory and trust you. May Your peace overwhelm these Your men this day as they give their best for and to You. Thank You for loving them.
In Jesus Name,
Dear Father in Heaven,
Every man who preaches Your wonderful Word understands deep in our heart that the power to change lives is not in our ability, but it is in the cross of our Savior. We know that when we proclaim Your Word that it will not return unto You void.
Dear God, we know that we cannot fix struggling marriages, we know we cannot repair fractured relationships, we know we cannot mend broken hearts or broken lives. However, we understand when we humbly speak Your truth that there is tremendous power that can accomplish all of this and more.
We pray that You will give each of Your preachers an added portion of strength, grace, peace, comfort, and wisdom as we speak forth Your Word. Thank You dear Father, for allowing us the blessing of being a part of Your work and may it all be for Your glory.
In Jesus Name we Pray,
In the midst of the countdown to Sunday, I’m learning to bathe my sermons with these five specific prayers.
Preaching, week in and week out, can be a grind. I remember hearing Bill Hybels refer to it this way, “You can only hit the same nail for so long before it gets old.” I was younger when I heard his comment, and remember thinking “I can’t imagine a day when I won’t be absolutely energized by getting up to preach on a Sunday morning.” Now I know better. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a worthy endeavor and I feel undeniably called to it. But when you speak almost every week, sometimes multiple messages, it can start to wear you down. And when it does my default is to focus more on content (What do I want to say?) than on my own spiritual engagement (Who do I want to be?).
So in the midst of the countdown to Sunday, I’m learning to bathe my sermons with these five specific prayers. I wish I could tell you I pray these prayers diligently every week that I speak; I don’t. But when I do, I’m better prepared to wrestle down what I think God may be prompting me to say and deliver it with power and clarity.
So allow me to humbly submit my five prayers for preachers:
My natural inclination is to pursue topics, passages, or themes I already know. It’s easier to preach a new angle on a familiar concept or recycle an older sermon altogether than start from scratch. But whether I’m preaching an old idea or a new one, I need to pray “Lord, teach me what you want me to teach.” Maybe another way to phrase it is “Lord, preach to me in order to preach through me.”
This is easily the scariest preaching prayer to pray as it asks God to reveal the pressing issues in my own spiritual journey. I’d rather communicate without moving towards self-awareness, confession, and personal sacrifice, but to teach of God without learning anything from God is just another form of hypocrisy. “So Lord, please don’t let me preach a truth I’m not living, or at least not seeking to live.”
“Lead me in each moment of study. I need to sense your presence at every point in my preparation time.” The good news about having a study routine is it keeps us focused and anchored in a sustainable rhythm. But here’s on potential pitfall of working off such a schedule: it can become rote and staid. I can work through my sermon preparation checklist and still fail to capture the specific message God may have for our community.
Yes, quantity of time matters, but invariably there will be weeks when we end up with less time than we budgeted. There are hospital visits and funerals and board meetings that go long. Or I just procrastinated. As much as I want to believe I had a great preparation and study plan, sometimes I’m just not feeling it and it’s hard to get the words on the page.
In these moments, I’ve often leaned on the words of Proverbs 16:3: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” That leads me to pray something like, “Lord, I don’t love what I have here. It’s not what I worked for, hoped for, or imagined in my mind’s eye. But it’s what I have now and I’m committing it to you. Establish it as only you can and use it for your purposes.”
“When I finally step into the pulpit, anoint the delivery of this message.”
When I’m not careful, and I feel comfortable with my material, I can be guilty of ordinary public speaking with biblical content. Instead, I want to be ever mindful of what the Spirit is doing in and around me throughout the very act of preaching.
Have you ever been at a worship service where the pastor, after ascending the steps to the podium, says, “I had a message prepared for today, but I feel the Lord has given me something else to say”? I confess the cynic in me questions if there was ever an original sermon to begin with, or if this is just sloppy preaching cloaked in the guise of “being sensitive to the Spirit.” However, if there’s no supernatural dimension to our preaching, if every time we arrive believing we’ve managed the uncontrollable fire of God like a tiger on a tight leash, then something’s wrong.
I’ll never forget hearing Brenda Salter McNeil talk about her pre-game preaching ritual. She spoke of how all the greats in sport and theater have a specific set of practices to help them focus before steping into the lights. Then she mentioned how before she goes up to speak, she anoints her hands with oil, asking God to anoint her preaching in a compelling and undeniable way.
God doesn’t owe the preacher anything. But I believe God works in spite of me, not because of me, more often than I choose to admit. So this prayer goes something like this: “When I stand up to preach, do what I can’t. Bridge the gap. Fill what is lacking.”
About thirty minutes before a service begins, I try to imagine where the people who may be in attendance are and what they’re thinking. At our church our staff estimates our “regular” attenders may only come to weekend services twice a month. So at 8:30 or 10:00 on a Sunday morning I picture young parents buckling their kids into a minivan or a couple of empty-nesters finishing breakfast at their favorite diner. And I pray, “Lord, prepare their hearts. Not to receive my thoughts, but to hear your voice. Meet them at their point of greatest need. Till the soil of their soul, so that, if they choose to, they might welcome the seed you would sow.”
It used to be “Lord, change them.” But I’m learning I’m not an unmoved actor in the preaching process. I’m not an unconscious delivery agent of some transcendent spiritual truth. The preacher is not static in the act of preaching; he is a fluid, organic participant in both the speaking and the hearing of the Word. This is why Mark Labberton warns against the preachers proclaiming “from above,” rather than “from among” their people. God doesn’t transform the preacher so that, through him, the gathered hearers might be transformed. I believe God, rather than leading the preacher and the people on parallel tracks at varying paces, looks to take a unified, local church body on a singular journey. So the prayer can’t be a cop out: “Lord, change these people, for they are broken.” Instead I can pray “Lord, change us together, that we might be a collective prophetic voice in the context of our homes, schools, businesses, and city.”
It could be only a few of these prayers resonate with you, or maybe none at all. That’s okay, as long as you find your own set of prayers, based on your style, personality, and struggles. You can’t stop Sunday from coming, but you can be primed and ready when it gets here.
Steve Norman is the senior pastor of Kensington Church in Troy, Michigan.
There are several prayers that I regularly pray as a preacher.
1. Lord, show them what you have shown me. Paul told Timothy to ‘Reflect on what I am saying and the Lord will give you insight’ (2 Tim. 2:7) A sermon is always the product of hard reflection, thinking and study, but there’s the flip side too – that wonderful moment when the clouds clear and something is understood, perhaps with new clarity or force, or even a new understanding. God has given an insight.
You can’t replicate in 25 minutes the hours of study that produced that, but you long for the people to have that same, heart-stopping moment. Only God can do that.
2. Lord, don’t hold my sins against them. I’m not talking unrepented or wilful sin here, but a pastor who spends time in God’s Word will experience its soul-scouring power, and we become increasingly aware of our failings and sin.
And so we ask that if God is in his mercy rebuking, training and disciplining us personally, that he will restrain his hand over the church where we serve.
3. Lord, If I’m the blockage, remove me. I’ve often prayed that other people or obstacles be removed, and so its imperative to include myself. What if I am the reason this church is struggling in this area or that? What if they would be blessed by a having a different pastor?
4. Lord, take the glory Pulpits, lecterns and stages are dangerously flattering places to stand. Everybody looks at us. Everybody listens to us. We claim to speak with an authority no politician or despot could ever aspire to, although many have tried: ‘This is what God says!’ And people flatter us with their attention, appreciation and taking us so seriously that they change their lives on the basis of it.
I remember hearing a famous church leader say that he regularly prayed that if God saw fit, he would forget what he was going to say, lose his place in his notes – whatever it took to remind him and the people that he was merely one Christian exposing other Christians to what the Bible says. That is all. God must take the glory.
5. And publicly, I usually pray a prayer along these lines: ‘Lord, would you open our hearts to your Word, and open your Word to our hearts’ Both halves affirm God’s sovereignty in the preaching process: without his work, both his word and our hearts remain closed.
What do you pray for your preaching?
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The following is a prayer for those who preach, adapted from The Valley of Vision:
My Master God,
I am expected to preach today,
but go weak and needy to my task;
Yet I long that people will be edified with divine truth,
that an honest testimony will be given for you.
Give me assistance in preaching and prayer,
with heart uplifted for grace and passion.
Present to my view things pertinent to my subject,
will fullness of matter and clarity of thought,
proper expressions, fluency, fervency,
a deep emotion to accompany the words I speak,
and grace to apply them to people’s consciences.
Keep me conscious all the while of my defects,
and let me not gloat in pride over my performance.
Help me to offer a testimony for yourself,
and to leave sinners inexcusable in neglecting your mercy.
Give me freedom to open up the sorrows of your people,
and to set before them comforting consolations.
Give your power to the truth preached,
and awaken the attention of my slothful audience.
May your people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted,
and help me to use the strongest arguments
drawn from Christ’s incarnation and sufferings,
that people might be made holy.
I myself need your support, comfort, strength, holiness,
that I might be a pure channel of your grace,
and be able to do something for you.
Give me then refreshment among your people,
and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way,
or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a redeemer,
or be harsh in treating Christ’s death, its design and end,
from lack of warmth and fervency.
And keep me in tune with you as I do this work.
I know many readers will be at T4G. This would be a wonderful prayer to adapt and to pray on behalf of the men who will be teaching and preaching God’s Word this week–and also, of course, for your own pastor.
HT: Trevin Wax