Make the most of the sermons this Sunday…
1 – Get a good amount of sleep on a Saturday night.
If you’re going on holiday, you make sure you have the right clothes packed in your suitcase. If you’re going out to a birthday party, you make sure you have the birthday present. Wherever we go, we prepare for where we’re going – unless that is, we’re going to church. Preparation plays such a huge part of getting the most out of sermons and one of the major preparations you can make is to make sure you’re not up too late on Saturday night. Staying up until 1am or 2am and then being in bed until the last possible moment on Sunday morning is not conducive to getting a lot out of the Sunday service. I know that because I tried it for years.
2 – Pray for the preacher
I don’t just mean, “dear Lord, I pray for the preacher today, amen”. Pray for the person who is preacher by name. Ask the Lord to help him, ask the Lord to speak powerfully through him, ask the Lord to glorify Himself through him, ask the Lord that the preacher would rely on Him and not focus on His own gifts, ask the Lord to help the preacher explain the Bible clearly and faithful. I find the more I spend praying for the preacher, the better they preach. This is no coincidence.
3 – Pray for yourself
The easiest thing in any sermon is to think about how it applies to everyone else around you and fail to see how it actually applies to you. Pray for yourself that God would speak to you, that he would reveal himself to you. Pray that God would make you more like the Lord Jesus through what you hear. Pray that God would reveal the things you need to change in your life. Pray that God would make you fall more in love with Him. Pray that God would stop you getting distracted by the things you’ve got going on in life and especially things in church that can take your mind off what God is going to say today. Pray that Satan would not be able to take away from the word that is preached and that your heart would be open and ready to receive what God has to say. The list is endless but this is vital.
4 – Rid yourself of distractions
If you can’t look at the Bible on your phone without using Twitter, checking email or texting friends then it’s probably best you bin the phone and actually bring a paper Bible to church. It’s not just phones – I’ve seen people marking school work while “listening to the sermon”. If we were to grasp what was happening, i.e. that the God who is greater and more majestic than we could ever imagine, has promised to speak to us through His word, we’d rid ourselves of all distractions. Satan will use even good things to distract us so we must rid ourselves, where possible, of any distractions. Even a notebook can be a distraction to some as they’ll use it to start planning something or writing a list of some description. If you’re serious about getting the most out of any sermon, you need to work out what distracts you and then remove it.
5 – Thank God for at least one thing He taught you or reminded you of in the sermon
It’s not just what you do before the sermon but also what you do afterwards. I can be guilty of playing critique the preacher rather than thinking about what God has taught me. And if the preacher hasn’t been the modern day equivalent of Spurgeon or Lloyd-Jones I won’t be happy. This is a terrible attitude to have but many of us fall into this trap.
Instead of thinking about the preacher, think about what was said. Find at least one thing you can thank God for. Since I’ve started doing this, each sermon I listen to I always find one thing I can thank the Lord for. Even in the most turgid sermon, I’ve been able to say thank you Lord, even if it was just for one sentence that was preached. Do this and do it straight after the service has finished. I’ve found it a real help and it’s made me think about the greatness of God rather than the sermon and the preacher.