Listen Up! Seven Ingredients For Healthy Sermon Listening
I must admit that I am a recovering sermon “listener”. They say the first part is to admit that you have a problem. Well I did. I remember going to church on Sundays (ok well maybe every other Sunday) and listening to the preacher speak. It sounds crazy but at the time I had only two requirements of the speaker. The first was hoping that the speaker kept my attention. The second was that I really hoped that the sermon spoke to something I was specifically dealing with at the time in my life. I think I fell into the trap that so many do on Sundays. We want to be entertained. We want it to be about us and speak to something in our lives at that moment to help with our daily problems. Does this sound familiar? Do you desire to not only hear God’s word but live it and see the fruit in your life? If so, there is hope.
Over the next several blog posts, I’ll be sharing information from a short book called Listen Up from Christopher Ash. It’s a practical guide on how to listen to sermons. In it, he shares 7 ingredients for healthy sermon listening. Each post we’ll take time to talk about what we need to do to hear God speak to us and get the most out of hearing His word on Sunday. But don’t stop there. Prayerfully ask God to help and if you’d like more information or would like to read more, we’ll be more than happy to provide this resource to you.
Expect God to speak. It sounds so easy yet why is it so hard to do? I think the first place we need to start is with an understanding of what Jesus has done. According to Ash, and most importantly scripture, we are to listen to sermons expectantly because Jesus gives the authority of God to the preacher who teaches the Bible accurately and prayerfully. It’s not about just reading the word but hearing it being preached and taught. Scripture itself says how important it is that the word is preached. Peter understood this himself when he says in 1 Peter 4:11 “11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Preachers are given the task of speaking the words of God so that He may be glorified. We would do well to listen. Paul adds to this by saying in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 “and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” It’s through the Holy Spirit’s power that men preach the word not by their wisdom but by His. This is especially true when the Bible is faithfully opened up and expounded. This means simply that what the bible says is what is preached and we’re to listen to the preacher as the voice of God Himself. As a preacher, we do not add offer new and fresh ideas to the bible but we speak about what God has said and is saying. As listeners, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to open our ears and help us hear this not as the word of not men but God Himself.
5 PRACTICAL STEPS
1. Read the bible passage before coming to church
2. Pray for the preacher during the week before the sermon
3. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help grow in you an expectation that God Himself will speak to you as His word is preached
4. Come rested and ready to pay attention
5. Quiet your mind and heart before the sermon. Pray “Lord speak to me. I am listening”