All preachers know only too well the value of surrounding our preaching with prayer. Yet, we may sometimes neglect this vital ingredient in our ministry. Martin Luther said, ‘If I should neglect prayer for a single day, I will lose a great deal of the fire of faith’.
The Apostle Paul refers to prayer many times in connection to his preaching ministry. I would therefore like to share a few thoughts from the writings of Paul, to help us pray strategically for our preaching.
Pray for open doors
Paul tells the believers, “Pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, …” (Colossians 4:3).
An open door can mean,
- New opportunities to preach the gospel of Christ.
- A new location to start a ministry or a service
- People (including the un-churched) coming to our services with open hearts to receive the message.
Are you praying for ‘open doors’ today? ‘Bruised knees and worn-out trousers open the windows of Heaven.’
Pray for clarity
“Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should”. (Colossians 4:4)
A sermon that lacks clarity will only bring confusion. Therefore, ask God for wisdom to preach the Word clearly. As we pray, the Spirit of God will guide us as to what we should be saying and not saying. It’s always good to first go through the complete sermon prayerfully to check whether it’s clear to you, before it is given to the people. You will then “…know how to answer everyone”. (Colossians 4:6)
Have others pray for your sermons
In Colossians 4:3-4, Paul twice requests the Colossian church to pray for his message. In verse 12, he refers to Epaphras who was ‘always wrestling in prayer’ for the believers. We need men and women like Epaphras who will be ‘wrestling in prayer’ for our pulpits and congregations.
I oversee the midweek outreach service of Peoples Church in Sri Lanka, and often preach at this service. It is a great blessing and strength for me therefore to know that there is a committed team of approximately 20 team members who pray through the week for the service and turn up one hour before the service every week, to pray. (All of them come after a hard day’s work in their offices and homes!) As a result, I always feel the anointing of God upon the words I speak, resulting in many giving their hearts to the Lord every week at the service.
Pray in the Spirit
“Take …the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions…” (Ephesians 6:17-18). This definitely includes praying over every sermon we preach. As we pray in the Spirit, the power of God will surely anoint the words we speak. It will also keep us sensitive as to how we should minister to the congregation.
Pray for boldness
“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, …. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6:19-20).
As preachers, we may sometimes hesitate to say certain things the Lord has laid upon our hearts maybe because of an influential person or a critic. This has happened to me at times. Therefore, let’s pray for boldness in the pulpit so that we may preach the full message God gives us.
I trust these thoughts will help you as you pray over each sermon. Please feel free to share some of your insights on this topic.
God bless you.