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NOPE – I’m not talking about preaching a sermon.  Still reading?  Good.

Joel Beeke has written a great little pocket-sized book called The Family at Church.  He’s dealing with two main issues:

Hearing sermons and Attending Prayer Meetings.

I just finished the first section on hearing sermons.  I will be posting the counsel he provides along with some of my own thoughts on –

  • Preparing for a sermon
  • Listening well during a sermon
  • Applying what we hear from a sermon

Preparing for the preached word

(pages 9-14)

1. Prepare yourself and your family with prayer. Pray for lost sinners to be converted.  Pray for saved sinners to be convicted and grown.  Pray that God would be pleased and glorified by the preaching of His word to His people.  Pray for the Spirit’s work in humbling, encouraging, empowering and teaching.  Pray for the preacher that God would give him a holy unction to clearly, boldly and relevantly preach God’s word.

2. Come with a hearty appetite for the word. Good appetite promotes good digestion and growth.  You need physical food.  Your body will not let you escape that reality.  A reality less often realized is our greater need for spiritual food.  This food comes from the word of God, preached by the man of God, to the people of God, in the church of God.  Do you hunger to hear God’s word proclaimed, unpacked and urged upon you?  The Puritans would say that we should prepare for Sunday worship on Saturday evening.  If you know the passage that will be preached, study it Saturday so it’s fresh in your mind.  Get a good nights sleep and get up early enough Sunday morning that you don’t have to rush to get ready.

3. Meditate on the importance of the preached word as you enter church. Is it a light thing to enter a building, home, gymnasium(wherever you may meet) and be privileged to hold a complete bible in your hands, hear it read in a full voice without having to look over your shoulder for the police coming to arrest and beat your Pastor?  How privileged a people are we?  And what is happening when the word is preached?  Is not the living God speaking to us?  Pray for and appreciate your minister who brings the word but pray that you would see “no man, save Jesus only” (Mat 17:8).  Remember that one day you will give an account for every sermon you heard.  What did you do with the truth you were told?  Teach your children that sermons count for eternity.  They will either harden us or soften us.  We will flee from the truth or flee to the Truth for salvation.

4. Remember that as you enter God’s house, you are entering a battleground. What would Satan love more than to pluck away from your heart the one thing that can bring you salvation from sin and death – the very word of the living God?  Satan distracts on every front.  He knows that if you truly hear a sermon, he will lose you.  Temperature, people shuffling about in their seat, the cry of children, the mannerisms of those leading worship, the idiosyncrasies of the preacher – all temptations to miss the truth that is being proclaimed.  Fight!  Go, dressed for war.  Pray in the Spirit that you would hear clearly, put off all cares of the world and fleshly desires so you could hear clearly what God would say to His people from His word.

5. Come with a loving, expectant faith. Are we dragging ourselves out of bed, barely scraping to get some food and clothing, racing through traffic and sliding into a pew just before the service starts?  We ought to be excited about being once again exposed to God’s thoughts from His word when we come to hear preaching.  Come like Mary who “pondered these words in her heart” (Luke 2:19).  Seek to find at least one thing you can focus on from the word.

Preaching is a lost art these days.  But that topic is for another post.  Dr. Beeke is concerned with the art of listening.  The lost art of preparing, meditating and anticipating the regular proclamation of the inspired word of God.

I hope his counsel encourages you to walk into church next Sunday with a renewed sense of urgency, importance and expectancy.  May you grow in grace as you become a God-glorifying listener in and for the kingdom.