Because I'm usually preaching each week at Redeemer, I don't often get to sit under preaching on a Sunday as many others do. But when I do get the chance, I cherish it. This Sunday, we'll have a guest preacher at Redeemer and I'm excited to sit and soak up God's Word as it's preached. My excitement has lead me to revisit an important question: How can I best prepare myself for hearing a sermon?
1. Pray. Before service, pray for the preacher, the sermon, and the gathering. Also pray for personal receptivity to God's Word as you hear it taught and proclaimed. Pray for humility to not approach the sermon as a "professional sermon listener," but as a hungry, humble, eager disciple of Jesus who wants to learn, re-learn, and apply all that is taught faithfully and biblically.
2. Come eager and teachable. I try to remind myself that each sermon I hear, insofar as it's faithful to the passage, has something for me that I need to hear. Why? Because God's Word is always profitable for correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:15-16). I am in no way beyond needing to hearing the Gospel daily. I am in no way so put together that I don't need correcting, encouragement, and rebuking from God's Word daily. Because of our great need and God's great grace, we ought to come eager to His Word each time we open it and each Sunday when it's preached.
3. Listen with the text in front of you. Even if the passage is on the screen, there's something about having an open Bible in front of you during the sermon that really does help with personal attention and retention. It helps you see how the preacher is drawing out applications, implications, and doing the work of interpretation. If you're not prone to check your Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Trello, NBA GameTime, Instagram, etc. then at least consider listening with your phone's Bible app open.
4. Talk about the sermon. Talking about the passage and the sermon after service and during the week is one of the best ways to keep applying the truth of the text. Small talk and catching up after service is important, but don't be afraid to ask "What really struck you from the sermon?" or "What do you feel like God was teaching you from today's text?". Talking about the sermon after is a great way to encourage each other to be doers of the Word, not just hearers (James 1:22-25). This is also a helpful way to get more insights from others on the passage that you may have missed.
5. Revisit the passage during the week. Revisit the previous Sunday's text if you really want to see transformation, growth, and application. Hearing a sermon is like dipping a tea bag in hot water once—there's flavor, but not as much as if you let the bag soak for awhile. When you revisit the text later in the week — praying, journaling, and mediating on it — you are letting the tea bag soak. As a result, you'll find your heart and mind absorbing the truth and flavor of the text, praising Jesus for how He's revealed in it, and seeking to obey its implications.
I would love to hear your tips and how you prep to best take in God's Word preached.