A Meditation Before Preaching


Erik Raymond:

It’s Sunday morning ten minutes before the service. How are you feeling? If you had to put it into a word, what would it be?

For the one preaching the sermon, it’s probably some combination of words that express his inadequacy for the task at hand. Each week, like clockwork, my hands get cold, and my stomach works itself into knots. I’ve studied hard, prayed, did my work, and am by all accounts prepared. But the awareness of the preaching event and my inadequacy brings me a weekly meeting with a personal Sabbath storm.

Recently, during a preservice prayer meeting, a friend said something that seemed like it was a large font. It was, “Lord, remind Erik what happens when you speak.” What followed was a gracious answer to this prayer. I began to recount how powerful God’s Word is. It brought me great encouragement that day, and each week since. In this post, I’ll share 15 meditations about the power of the Word. I pray it encourages you, especially those who labor in the Word.

(1) Remember that when God speaks, things happen.

(Cf. Genesis-Revelation)

(2) Remember Paul’s ministry.

Even the eminently gifted apostle Paul felt a sense of personal inadequacy with the task of the ministry of the Word (2 Cor. 2:16). But he was keenly aware that his sufficiency came from God (2 Cor. 3:5-6). Even in the hard work to be prepared, the power in ministry never comes from the man, but from God (1 Cor. 15:10). As preachers, we can embrace our inadequacy, while at the same time cling to God’s sufficiency.

(3) Remember that you are preaching the Word of God. The Bible does not just contain the Word of God; it is the Word of God.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16–17)

(4) Remember the first words of the Bible? There was nothing. And God spoke it into existence. Everything that you experience in this world came forth by the Word of God.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. . . . And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:1,3)

(5) Remember that God sustains everything by the Word of his power.

“. . . he upholds the universe by the word of his power . . .” (Heb 1:3)

(6) Remember, God’s Word is mighty.

“The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.” (Ps. 29:3–4)

(7) Remember that Christ’s Word calms the storms in the sea; it is sufficient to calm the storms of your hearers’ heart.

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. . . And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:39, 41)

(8) Remember that the Word of Christ powerfully conquers his foes.

“And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” (Luke 4:36)

(9) Remember that Christ’s Word is so powerful that he speaks and people are healed.

“But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. . . . “And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.” (Matt. 8:8,13)

(10) Remember, it’s the Word that does the work; it’s sufficient according to the varied needs of those listening to your sermon.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” (Ps.19:7–8)

(11) Remember, God is known to get glory through surprising servants who speak his Word; embrace and rejoice in the opportunity.

“Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” (Num. 22:28)

(12) Remember that Christ’s Word raises the dead.

“When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth.” (John 11:43–44)

(13) Remember that the same God who created the World out of nothing recreates people by his powerful Word.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)

(14) Remember that God grows his church through the preaching of his Word.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” (Eph. 4:11–17)

(15) Remember that the Word of God works.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Is. 55:10–11)

When God speaks, things happen. As preachers, this is an occasion to rejoice. We can embrace our inadequacy while at the same time cling to God’s sufficiency.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.