Prayer is an act of humility toward God. We humble ourselves before God by acknowledging that we are dependent on Him. That is why we should always pray to God when we are going to work, study, preach the Gospel, or do any other task because as we do those things, we need God’s grace and mercy to help us. The Bible teaches us that we are to always do things not by our strength or capabilities but by God’s spirit. The good thing is that the Holy Spirit Who empowers us also dwells in us, for we are the temple of God. If you ever wondered why fishermen like Peter, who didn’t have any prestigious education like the Pharisees, could preach boldly, it is because the Holy Spirit empowered him.
Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
[1 Corinthians 6:19-20]
We pray to God for our sermons by asking Him for the grace and mercy we need as we study, prepare, and preach them. We don’t just pray for the sermon itself but for its impact on the people listening. Human as we are, we are not immune to errors, and our understanding is limited. Also, whenever someone preaches, he is handling the word of God. Therefore, we must ask God for His mercy as we study His Word and prepare the sermon; God will empower us and give us the grace to prepare and give a Christ-exalting, Biblical, and heart-piercing sermon.
But why do we have to seek and ask God for His mercy? Our knowledge, understanding, and wisdom are all there because of God’s mercy in our lives. In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, and no wise man could guess what it meant. When Daniel heard that the wise men were being executed because they could not interpret the king’s dream, Daniel told his friends to seek God for mercy. They sought God for mercy because every understanding, knowledge, and wisdom they have is because of God’s mercy.
Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:
That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
Whether a person is a Christian or not, their intellect is not there because of their talents or personal capabilities but solely because of God’s mercy. In other words, they wouldn’t have those things if not for God’s mercy. That is why we need to ask God for mercy whenever we study and craft our sermons.
For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
God is the source of everything. Just as we seek God because He is the source of all provision, we seek Him because all understanding, knowledge, and wisdom come from Him. Every strength and grace we need to craft a good sermon comes from God.
How do we pray during the preparation of a sermon?
As you pray during your sermon preparation, you depend on God at every step along the way. Though that does not necessarily mean you have to pray at each step, you can cover every step of your preparation in one prayer before your preaching. Sermon preparation is not an easy task. Preachers usually take days preparing for a sermon because it takes intense studying of God’s Word to ensure that the whole thrusting point of the passages being used is unpacked and that the passage is not taken out of context. You can pray for your sermon preparation every day before you get to work, depending on what part you are already working on in your progress.
You pray for God to give you an understanding of His Word. As mentioned before, all knowledge, wisdom, and understanding come from the LORD alone. You can also pray that you will have the right heart when preparing your sermon and preaching—not glorifying yourself in the pulpit but God. Every preacher’s goal is to preach a Christ-exalting and biblical sermon. Therefore, your prayer should revolve around that.
Psalm 119:18 is a scripture that you can meditate on and pray as you get into the passage that your sermon is all about. The psalmist prays to God and asks Him to open his eyes to behold the wondrous things of His law. Whenever you study a particular passage or verse for the sermon, you want your eyes to see it, behold the wonders of those scriptures, and make your sermon revolve around the wondrous things of God’s Word. You can also pray for God to give you an understanding of how that particular scripture(s) points to Jesus. Even in the Old Testament, you can find different verses about Jesus. One example is Genesis 3:15, known as the first revelation of the Gospel. God told the serpent that a man shall come from the woman. The serpent will bruise His heel, but the man shall bruise the serpent’s head. True enough, Christ was bitten by the serpent in that He was crucified on the cross. Satan thought he’d won, only to have his defeat sealed when Jesus resurrected from the grave, having paid for our sins on the cross.
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
As God gives us an understanding of His Word, by which we gain knowledge through His mercy and grace, we should not just stop at knowing but also aspire to apply it. Wisdom is putting knowledge into action. In other words, when you prepare your sermon, you don’t just preach about the passage so that the congregation will understand and know about it, but you also emphasize how they can apply it in their lives. That is why you should pray to God for wisdom as you preach about how the passage applies to the lives of the believers.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Another important thing you should include in your sermon preparation is praying to God for the grace that you will correctly handle His word of truth. As you craft your sermon, preach what the Word of God says even if it is a truth that is hard to swallow. No matter what, you should never distort what the Word of God says to cater to what the congregation wants to hear. It is not lies that set them free, but the truth.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
[2 Timothy 2:15]
Another thing that you can pray to God as you craft your sermon is that you shall always be grounded in love and compassion. Yes, you may be preaching the truth to the congregation, and it is a truth that they may have a hard time swallowing. However, you don’t make that sermon out of the desire to hurt or destroy them; you do that out of love and compassion toward them because you want them to grow and be sanctified in the truth. Everything that we do should be grounded in love, or else it is pointless. You can be the best preacher and craft the best sermon, but you will be like a clanging cymbal if you don’t do it out of love for others. Remember that Jesus summarized all the commandments into two: love God and love others. The world will know that we are disciples of Christ by how we love and treat each other.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
[1 Corinthians 13:1]
As you prepare your sermon, being rooted in love and compassion is something you pray for your heart. Another thing that you can pray regarding your heart is that you shall have the right motivation whenever you preach. That means praying to God that your heart shall be pure and upright and that you are not preparing a sermon to glorify yourself but rather to glorify God. The Bible teaches us that we are to glorify God in everything. Everything that we do is not about us but all about Him. We are in the pulpit not to proclaim things about ourselves but to proclaim Christ. We are to pray that we are preaching not out of self-conceit but for the advancement of God’s kingdom. We should crucify our flesh, for the life we live is not for ourselves but for Christ Who loved us and died for us.
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
[1 Corinthians 10:31]
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Last, you can pray for God’s grace to help you live out the very truth you will preach. Pray that you will practice what you preach and that it will be evident in your life. As the one who preaches God’s Word, you are responsible for being a good example and living a life above reproach. Being a preacher is a great responsibility that you should take seriously because you are accountable to God. What you preach will significantly impact the lives of the hearers.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Here is an example of how you can pray as you prepare your sermon:
Heavenly Father, You are the God Who gives understanding, knowledge, and wisdom by Your mercy. I pray that as I study Your Word, You would open my eyes so that I may understand and behold the wondrous things of Your Word. Give me the grace to be able to articulate and preach the wondrous things of Your Word, especially the truth that it teaches us. Give me the grace that the truth I preach to the congregation will also be evident in my life. Give me the wisdom that I shall be able to preach to the congregation how they ought to apply in their lives the truth that they shall learn from what I preach. Give me the grace to always have a pure and upright heart as I craft my sermon and preach this Sunday. I pray that my heart’s motivation shall always be to expand Your kingdom, glorify You, and point people to Christ. Help me always to be grounded in love in everything that I do. Help me always to be faithful to the Scriptures, rightly handle Your Word of Truth, and preach the truth that the Scriptures say, even if it is something that the congregation does not want to hear—all this by Your grace and mercy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
How do we pray before we preach?
We depend on God before we preach, just as we depend on Him when we craft our sermons. As mentioned a while ago, the Holy Spirit is in us, and this empowers us as we preach. On your own you cannot do it. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit will you be able to preach with power and that the sermon you preach shall also penetrate hearts and make an impact.
When preparing for a sermon, you pray for some things that you can also pray before you preach. You still ask God for the grace to always be grounded in love when you preach to the congregation. Another is that your heart’s motivation when preaching is glorifying God, advancing His kingdom, and pointing people to Christ. It is also the Holy Spirit Who will work in the hearts of the listeners of your preaching. Therefore, you also pray for the Holy Spirit to prepare and move their hearts so that the Word of God that you preach will take root and grow in their lives.
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
It is not us but the Holy Spirit Who can change people’s hearts. As the famous saying goes, “Only God can change people.” No matter how much you preach to the congregation, they will never respond to what you are preaching if their hearts are hardened. That is why your prayer should be for the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts so that they will receive the Word of God, even if it is a truth that is hard to swallow. You are to pray for God to work in the congregation’s hearts so that they may be like the good soil that appears in the Parable of the Sower; the seed of God’s Word will take root, grow, and bear fruit in their lives.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Just as during your sermon preparation you pray to God to open your eyes as you study His Word, pray to God also that He will open the eyes of the hearers of the wondrous passages you are preaching. Just as you have prayed when crafting your sermon, pray that the truth you preach to them will not remain as knowledge but that the congregation will also apply it in their lives.
But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
It is also important to pray for the congregation so that they will listen to the preacher even if it is something that they don’t want to hear. We need to hear the truth, not something we want to hear. Pray that the congregation shall seek and embrace only sound teachings and the very truth of God’s Word; that they won’t look for only preaching that suits their passions.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
[2 Timothy 4:3-4]
Here is an example of how you can pray before you preach:
Heavenly Father, You are the God Who gives me strength. Give me the grace that I need as I preach to the congregation so that I may be able to preach a powerful and truthful sermon. Empower me, Holy Spirit, and convict the hearts of the hearers who shall listen to the preaching. I pray that You would work in the hearts of the hearers and soften any hardened hearts so that they may receive the truth, even if it is hard to swallow and repent if there is any sin in their life that You are convicting. As I preach to them Your Word, open their eyes so that they may also behold the wondrous things of Your Word. I pray that they listen and embrace only the truth, not teachings that suit their passions. Give me grace so that my heart’s motivation as I preach will always be pure and that it glorifies You and exalts Christ. Thank You because I can do this through Christ Who strengthens me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Preaching is a serious responsibility that has been entrusted to us. Everything that we say greatly influences our listeners. As we craft our sermons and preach, we are to always depend on God and His grace and mercy. We are not to depend on our intellect or eloquence in speaking, but we are to depend on the Holy Spirit, Who leads us into all truth and helps us when we minister.