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I publicly pray before I start my sermons. I also privately pray as I preach.

Can you preach and pray at the same time?

You better!

Multiple things go through the preacher’s mind as he preaches. I’m not sure the preacher thinks about multiple things at the same time; rather, the mind quickly and constantly shifts from one thing to another, consisting of good and bad thoughts, true and false, wise and foolish. This is why I pray as I preach.

There are three fundamental things I need God to do me for as I preach.

I need God to guide my thoughts.

Have you ever tried to pray, only to have your mind flooded with distractions? The same thing can happen in preaching.

All kinds of mundane thoughts come to mind. Members walk. Babies cry. Children pass notes. Deacons sleep. Others seem more interested in their cell phones. You spot guests. You don't see a faithful member in her regular spot. You start thinking about last week. Or you start thinking about next week.

There are moments of distraction in preaching when I openly ask God to hold my mind. This petition is secretly and repeatedly uttered throughout the message. The words you say in preaching are offerings of worship. So are the thoughts you entertain as you preach the word! You need God to bring to your memory what he taught you in private. You need God to help you stay focused. You need God to reign in your wandering thoughts.

I need God to guard my heart.

Faithful preaching requires mental preparation and concentration. Moreover, it demands spiritual devotion. It doesn’t matter if your head is in the game if your heart is not.

The preacher should offer the Lord a prepared message, a rested body and a consecrated heart. So examine your heart for any unconfessed sin before you stand to preach. And continue the spiritual examination as you preach.

You may not feel comfortable with the message. You may be afraid of their faces. You may be in a place where preaching is out of season. You need God to guard your heart from fear, worry and discouragement.

Or the sermon may go well. The congregation gets the message. There is the sense that God is at work. You need God to guard your heart from sinful pride.

I need God to govern my words.

I advocate writing full sermon manuscripts for each sermon. Writing yourself clear will keep you from filibustering in the pulpit. Yet it does not mean you should say everything in the manuscript. You need God to edit out what he wants out and edit in what he wants in.

The Apostle Paul often asked that he would be given the right words to say (Eph. 6:19-20; Col. 4:3-4). This, too, should be our prayer. The pulpit is not a stage for your performance. It is the throne of the word of God. The King’s herald must be careful not to say anything in preaching that is untrue, unwise or unhelpful.

Standing to preach is dangerous business. The Lord will judge teachers with greater strictness (James 3:1). There are unbelievers, baby Christians and mature saints in the congregation. Your preaching of the gospel is the fragrance of life to those who are being saved and the fragrance of death to those who are perishing. Our preaching of the gospel should be faithful, clear and compelling. We need God’s help to this end.

What do you pray as you preach? 

H.B. Charles, Jr. is the Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida, where he has served since the fall of 2008. He is primarily responsible for preaching-teaching, vision casting, and leadership development – along with all the other tasks that are a part of pastoral ministry.

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Angela Bates

commented on Jun 10, 2015

I am very happy to get sermons from your site it isvery helpful to me you see I got the gift of preaching which I do,but I still need to develop and get stronger and your site is really helping me.Thank You very much.Angela.

Beatrice Wright

commented on Jun 10, 2015

I would like to ask a question concerning associate ministers. My pastor is a senior pastor approx. 79 years old. He is dean at a bible college and spends many Sundays preaching elsewhere. There are more than six other associate ministers that are sitting in the audience and they attend sporadically. There is no real communication from the pastor concerning us. When I joined there in February, he asked me to sit on platform after two months... the others sit there occasionally (it is their choice). I have asked him if I may assist in any way and was told to attend Sunday School and Thursday night bible study, of which very few other ministers attend. He is a very friendly and well-liked, intelligent pastor but his leadership development skills are lacking. I want to assist but I am moved to leave because we (ministers are becoming restless). I have preached at other churches but never at my home church. In addition, there is one other minister who manages the pulpit when he is away no one wants to hear him preach. I appreciated that wants to preach to his congregation on Sundays, he should, but don't you think there should be other ways we could be useful under his leadership? Please comment. What seems to be the problem?

Harold Goff

commented on Jun 10, 2015

Right on. I never thought of praying my way through a sermon. I am 80 yrs.' old and need to wright out the full sermon , but as the Spirit works I don't use all of it on most occasions . I turn myself over to the Holy Spirit and he edits. This Sunday I will be preying as I preach THANKS

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