Summary: Psalms 46:1 outlines the fundamental principles necessary to teach THERAPEUTIC PREACHING IN THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY,


David L. Lane Ph.D.

Text: Psalms 46: 1


Biblical Preaching is proclamation done for God's glory and man’s growth. In view of our world today and its complexities, contradictions, traumas, turmoil, pain, problems, wars and worries, many in the pew are seeking relevance in the pulpit. Biblical Preaching is effective when preachers focus on its primary purpose.

Six (6) purposes of preaching that must be developed in formulating a theology of preaching are proclamation, confrontation, reconciliation, edification, application and evaluation. Each purpose must be employed if preaching is truly therapeutic.

In the proclamation of the gospel man is confronted with God. The mind of man confronts the mind of God. The heart of man confronts the spirit of God. The sins and needs of man confront the grace of God and the soul of man confronts the Son of God. It is the event known as preaching that the natural, sensual, material man comes face to face with the spiritual and eternal truths of God. Such a confrontation is needed if man is to know God and eternal life in His Son. (John 17:3)

The purpose of preaching, then, is to effect changes among members of the body of Christ that build them up individually and that build up the body as a whole. Individually, good pastoral preaching helps each person in the congregation to grow in his faith, conforming his life more and more to biblical standards. Corporately, such preaching builds up the church and influences the world.

Since preaching involves at least two responsibilities; An explanation of the Bible and how it relates to life, and life explained in light of scripture. Therefore effective preaching has of necessity always been powerful, persuasive, purposeful, relevant and therapeutic. Effective preaching (1.) finds God or divine initiative in a text, (2.) notes the nature of God’s involvement throughout the text, (3.) makes a concrete connection between God’s presence and the lives of the listening congregation and (4.) demonstrates with creativity and keen insight how God’s power is used on behalf of the people of faith.


Therapeutic preaching is designed to reach each ache of the soul. Let’s look with eyes of discernment and see a formula in dissecting the word “preach”. Remove the letter “P” from the word “preach” and you’ll see “reach”. Remove the letter “r” from the word “reach” and you have the word “each”. Remove the letter “e” from the word “each” and place it on the end and you will have the word “ache”.

Therapeutic preaching then is designed to reach each ache of the soul. Those aches are translated by the author as hurts, habits and hang-ups.

Conversely, therapeutic preaching approaches the text with two fundamental questions.

1. How do I demonstrate to God’s people today, through the proclamation of the Word, the mighty gracious acts of God on their behalf?

2. How best shall I join scripture and their life situations, in order to address their plight in a meaningful and practical manner? Thereby helping them overcome their hurts, habits and hang ups.

Therefore, from beginning to end, therapeutic preaching has as its goal the creation of a meaningful connection between an all-powerful God and a powerless people struggling to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. [1]

The preacher who preaches therapeutically is likely to be accused of preaching too much psychology and not enough Bible. However, you should keep in mind that the word psychology comes from the Greek word “psuche”, which means soul. Psychology is the study of the soul. [2] Whose job is it to study the soul, if it is not the preacher’s job? Traditional psychology treats man’s soul as if it is comprised of only the intellect and emotions. Orthomolecular psychology ascends to a higher level. The word orthomolecular is made up of the word “Ortho” which means-correct, and the word molecular which means- components. Psychology is the study of the soul. The term literally means the correct components for the study of the soul. [3] The scriptures refer to man’s soul as his heart, or his inner being. The invisible part of us, that is the real us, can only be seen by God. (I Sam. 16:7). Since man has a body he is a Physical being and because he is a soul he is a Rational being (the Mind), a Volitional being (the Will), a Moral being (the Conscience), and emotional being (the Emotions). Above all, because man is a spirit, he has the capacity to be a SPIRITUAL BEING.

The mind is the center of our cognitive behavior. With it we think reason and understand (Proverbs 23:7 Mark 2:8 Matthew 9:4; Matthew 15:19; Romans 10:10), that includes knowing, remembering, perceiving, analyzing, synthesizing, as well as evaluating. The will is the center for our volitional behavior. It is the mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action (Dan. 1:8). The conscience is the center for our ethical behavior. It is the faculty of recognizing the distinction between right and wrong in regard to one’s own conduct. (Acts 2:36, 37; Acts 5:33; Acts 7:54) Emotions are the center of our affective behavior. They are the manifestation of feelings as a result of the agitation of our passions or sensibilities. (John 14:1) They include such complex feelings as love, fear, resentment, anger, compassion and a wide range of other human emotions. The ultimate challenge in making men whole is to recognize and systematically bring healing to all four components of the soul with the healing power of God’s Word. The man of God must never forget that there is healing and overcoming power in the Word of God.

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