The Most Important Part of a Great Sermon

“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4

If it is true that great sermons are in the eyes and ears of those sitting in the pews; and if that implies the preacher is completely dependent on the Spirit to do the work; then THAT means the preacher’s most important task is to pray for his people. When the disciples chose the first deacons in Acts 6, Luke tells us they did so in order to give themselves first to prayer and then the ministry of the word.
Recently, I had an opportunity to lead a group of preachers in a workshop on the idea of moving sermons from good to great. We spent a good portion of the time talking about this very idea. Being that it is the most important task, I wanted to hear from them about some of the ways they, themselves spend time praying for the ministry of the word to take root in the hearts God has called them to serve. Here are some of best practices shared:
  • Pray over the pews/seats every Sunday morning before people arrive.
  • Corporately pray together as a congregation, for the congregation, the first Saturday of every month.
  • Pray for various leaders of the church at different seasons of the year.
  • Use a prayer list of names to pray for church members by name throughout the year.
  • Read the Bible text to be preached to an empty sanctuary, then pray the passage over the pews/seats for the people who will be sitting there.
  • Sit in an empty sanctuary at various places, praying for members who will be sitting in each section.
  • Pray for a different group of members every day of the week.
  • Pray through the truths of the Scripture to be preached for the congregation on Saturday, Sunday, and again on Monday morning.
What about you, preacher? What is your practice of praying for the word to minister in the hearts of your people? What are some best practices you have heard?