Apr 3

How to Get the Most Out of Preaching

2013 at 10:10 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Church Life

bible chairI was running errands with my kids yesterday, and playing our favorite in-the-car game: Ask Mommy 100 Questions Before We Get Home. In between the usual “What’s for dinner?” and “What does that sign say?” my son Jude threw out a new one: Why is the Bible so important? To which I was very happy to explain that the Bible is the most important thing, because it is the very Word of God. I believe this with my whole heart and I dearly want my children to believe it too. But the thought struck me—do I always live like it is true? For if the Bible is the Word of God and the most important thing in my life, then the preaching of that Word should be the most important event of my week. And if the preaching event is the most important event in my week, then it should shape the priorities in my week. Right? But to my shame I often plan my week around my to-do list or my children’s activities. Or I find myself looking forward to a family gathering or coffee with a friend more than the preaching of God’s Word. Although I faithfully attend church on Sunday, I sometimes show up tired or distracted. And then I don’t draw the spiritual benefits God has ordained from the preaching of His Word. So here are a few practical habits or disciplines, that when I am faithful to apply them, help me to keep the most important event of my week most important.

Prepare

I need to prepare my heart and my schedule. The Puritans taught me this years ago. They would begin to prepare their hearts on Saturday evening in anticipation of the Sunday morning service. We can prepare our hearts by reading the passage our pastor will be preaching from, spending time in prayer to quiet our hearts, confess sin, and pray for illumination. We can prepare practically (unlike I did a few weeks ago!) by getting food and clothing planned and set out to make for a peaceful morning. We can avoid scheduling multiple events late into the evening that leave us rushed and tired Sunday morning.

Listen

While the fellowship that occurs before and after a Sunday meeting is a visible sign of the health of our relationships with the people of God, preaching should be our first listening priority. This may mean we avoid the temptation to check our smartphone or let our mind wander during the service. That we ask God for grace to focus solely on what the preacher is saying. I know for moms with infants or small, clingy children it can be difficult if not impossible to listen to the Sunday sermon. Take heart—this season will soon be over and if you are caring for a fussy child you are doing what God has called you to do. But be alert to ways you too can make listening a priority. Maybe you can adjust your infant’s feeding schedule or bring toys/snacks for your child. If you are in a separate room with a video feed, make listening to the sermon (and not chatting with friends) the most important goal of the hour. And thanks to modern technology, you can benefit from listening to your pastor’s sermon some other time during the week.

Apply

Several godly “older” women I know make it a priority to review the Sunday morning sermons in their Monday morning quiet time. This is a habit I’ve been sporadic at but always benefit from when I do. One of my favorite practices is choose a good commentary to help me study the book of the Bible our pastors our preaching from in my quiet times. And finally, don’t take lightly the conviction or encouragement to change that comes to you during the preaching of God’s Word. Act on it! This is the Holy Spirit speaking to you through His Word and He is eager to help you apply. One more thought—It is sobering for me to remember that my children are watching. I want to do more than just tell Jude that the Bible is the most important thing to me. I want to live it. Now this list is by no means exhaustive, but I have stuffed a bunch of ideas in one post. I don’t mean that to be overwhelming—especially to moms with young kids. Starting with myself, I want to spur us all on to a greater love of God’s Word. Let’s start small but let’s start. Let’s make the preaching of God’s Word the most important part of our week.