It’s what every pastor wants from their Sunday sermons (or talks, messages, homilies—take your pick).
We want to have impact. We want the message, as Larry Osborne might put it, to be sticky. We want the words we speak not just to make people feel good when they’re in church on Sunday, but to help them live better lives on Monday.
A few years ago I had one of those “aha” moments in which I realized that despite all the work, prayer and study to prepare my Sunday messages, there was one step I was missing that could really make them sticky. And that step can be stated in three simple words …
Pray on Monday.
Yes, it’s that simple.
Pray on Monday.
If you’re a pastor like me, Monday is a down day—at least emotionally—if not an actual day off.
In preparation for my Sunday messages, I work, study and pray that God will use my words about His Word to have staying power with my congregation.
But Monday is my day. My Sabbath. My “leave me alone” day.
A few years ago I was kicking back on a well-deserved Monday off, when this question popped into my head and heart, “Why aren’t you praying about your Sunday message today?”
That was a weird idea, since the message was already “in the can” as they say, so I dismissed it. But the nagging thought wouldn’t go away. So I paused and thought it through.
“Why wasn’t I praying for the Sunday message?” I wondered. After all, as I’m preparing for it I pray constantly that it will have impact in people’s lives beyond the time they’re in the service.
Then, here I am on Monday, the first full day on which congregation members can put Sunday’s message into practice, but I’m AWOL in my prayers for them.
So I started doing that day what I’ve done most Mondays since. I pray for the people in my congregation as they’re at work, school, at home caring for kids—whatever their day may bring—that the Holy Spirit will bring His Word into their life when they need it the most.
As a Small Church Pastor, I have the advantage of knowing most of the names of the people who heard my Sunday message, so I pray for people by name as they come to mind. I especially pray for those who I know are struggling with the issue that was raised on Sunday.
It’s not a long prayer. I won’t pretend I’m so holy that I spend hours every Monday in deep intercession. Sometimes I just take a moment or two. But I try to remember to do it every Monday.
Can God Really Work When I’m Not in the Room?
After I started this Monday routine, I felt convicted that the reason I hadn’t been doing it before, in addition to simple ignorance, was a little bit of arrogance.
I knew God could impact a person’s life while I was preaching a sermon to them, but I just didn’t follow through on the idea that God could use that same message to impact their life (this is embarrassing) when I wasn’t in the room with them.
When I thought that through, it felt like a big rebuke from the Lord. “Karl, do you really think you need you to be in the room with someone for me to use Sunday’s sermon to impact a person’s life?” God seemed to be saying. “After all, I’m with them on Monday. Isn’t that good enough?”
So I let the arrogance go (that arrogance anyway—I still have other issues God is working on with me) and I asked God to do something special. I asked Him to work in the lives of the people in my church, using his Word from my Sunday talk, when I’m not there with them.
What are the results? I have no idea. As we’ve talked about before, some things can’t be measured.
But I know this. God’s Word is true. It will accomplish His will. And praying for that to happen at the time it’s most needed in people’s lives is never wasted.
Plus, it puts me and my efforts on the periphery, and God and His work closer to the center, where He belongs.