In a context of confusion and flashy journalism, rigour becomes a precious value.
How to listen to a sermon.
If the preaching of the Word of God is the most important part of the Protestant church service, then learning to listen to the sermon becomes vitally important.
In this brief article, I aim to share ten tips for listening to preaching on the Lord’s Day in order to make the most out of the messages that the Lord brings to us.
I trust it will bless you all!
1.- Pray throughout the week
In your daily prayers, ask the Lord to bless the pastor’s sermon. Pray for your congregation to be built up in the sound teaching of the Word. If you give so much priority to the Word in your prayers at home, you will doubtlessly be hanging on every word of the sermon once you get to the Lord’s house on Sunday.
2.- Prepare your soul
Get up early on the Lord’s Day to prepare your soul and to pray for the Lord to speak to the congregation. Fix your heart on the Gospel, the key doctrines of the Word and Christ’s love for sinners; and do not allow anyone or anything to dampen your spiritual joy. Once you get to church, take some time to pray before the meeting starts. Keep your soul in perfect peace before the presence of the Lord.
3.- Get to church early
Do not rush to church. There is nothing worse than getting to the house of the Lord five minutes late because you did not leave your house on time. Instead of planning to arrive at church at one minute to eleven, why not get there fifteen or twenty minutes earlier in order to read the Word and seek the Lord? If you rush from your house to church, rest assured you will be hot and bothered when you get there and you will not be able to make the most of the message. Listening to a sermon is a solemn and holy activity. You have to make sure that your faculties are in-tune to receive the Word.
4.- Go to bed early on Saturday night
If you know you are going to hear the Word on Sunday, be sure to get a good rest on Saturday night. Go to bed early. If you have a good sleep, you will be far better prepared to face the next day. So at ten or eleven, turn off your mobile, close your laptop and off to bed you go!
5.- Sit near the front
It is always a good idea to try to look for a seat up front. Personally speaking, doing so has always helped me a lot. I realize that when I am sat at the back it is much easier to get distracted by the people in front of me. But if you are sitting in the first few pews, it is quite difficult for anyone to bother you. As a general rule, you will have to get there early to sit at the front; but the extra effort will be worthwhile.
6.- Turn off your mobile
In some churches I have been to, they have a sign posted up on the front door forbidding the use of mobiles in the temple and I think it is a great idea. I am sure you will have all heard a ringtone going off during a sermon. A further problem is that if one has his or her mobile turned on, there is always the temptation to go online and then the person is no longer worshipping God because he (she) is not paying full attention to the message. At any rate, a person who is unable to spend a solitary hour without looking at their mobile phone is probably addicted. That would be a worrying sign.
7.- Take a pen and a notebook
A great way of interacting with the message is by means of a pen and a notebook. The good thing about jotting down a preacher’s outline and comments is that throughout the week you can refresh your mind with the content of the message. That way you get doubly or triply blessed! It is also worth your while checking out the Bible verses quoted in the message once you get home. If you take notes during the sermon, you will definitely get a lot more out of it.
8.- Discipline your mind
Do not let your mind wander off. Keep focused on the message at every moment. It is the Word of the living God! There is nothing more important going on in the world than what is being proclaimed from the pulpit. So if you hear the church door opening behind him, do not turn around to see who it is. If you hear someone getting up from their seat, keep fixed on the preacher. Again, do not let anything distract you! Forget everything else! Discipline your mind! Receive the Word!
9.- Talk to folk about the Word preached
A healthy discipline is that of speaking about the Word once the message is over. This can be done when the worshipper is heading home in the car. Why not ask some brother or sister in the Lord about what most blessed or challenged them about the message? Or once you get home, ask your family about the things the Lord put on their hearts as the Word was preached.
10.- Go over the message
Finally, make sure to mull over the message during the week. If you have your notebook, you will be able to go over the message in your devotional time and thus pray the Word even deeper into your heart. You could even type up the message on your laptop and have a whole file full of sermons. Meditating on the message will help the great doctrines of the Word anchor in your soul and will stimulate your growth in godliness. Do not forget to look for ways to apply the sermon to your life throughout the rest of the week.
They are ten simple and straightforward steps. But if you put them into practice, you will soon see how much more you are able to learn from the preaching of the Word. So, why not start with the ten-fold list this Saturday? I am sure they will be prove to be a great blessing for your spiritual life!