What were you doing during the sermon last Sunday? Where was your mind? Your heart? Your focus? Where will it be this Sunday? Let me share with you several tools I have learned that help to direct my mind and heart on the Word of God, and the God behind that Word, that is proclaimed.
Come Prepared – Come with a mind and heart that is ready to hear the word. Be on time. Be early. Be well rested. Pray together as a family before arriving at church. If your heart is prepared, you will be more apt to hear and respond to the word, and it will bear greater fruit in your life.
Be in the Word and Be Worshipful all Week Long – A sermon cannot be the only time we encounter the Word of God every week. Be active in reading and studying Scripture in your life. Our whole lives are to be worship to God. Sundays are a time for us to come together to worship with one another.
Pray – Pray before the message. Pray during the sermon. Pray after the sermon. Depend on God in everything. Pray for the pastors, pray for those hearing, and pray for your family, and pray for yourself.
Participate in Worship – Be active and involved in the worship. Sing, give, pray, fellowship, read, listen. The worship service is designed to tune our heart in a God-ward direction. The corporate worship of the church is a time that can focus us and bring us together. The sermon is not separate from worship, but is a crucial part of it.
Have an Open Bible – Seeing, reading, and meditating on the word is easier with Scripture before your very eyes. It helps you to follow and focus on what is being said and evaluate what is said by the standard of the Scripture.
Take Notes – Guard your thoughts and focus your mind of the Word. It is easy to become distracted during the message. If something else seems to want to preoccupy your thoughts during the sermon, write it down to the side so you will remember it later, and recommit your mind to God’s message. Being an active listener will prevent your mind from drifting off.
Listen Humbly, Not with a Critical Heart – It is easy to point out shortcomings in a sermon, but if you listen to criticize, you will miss the message. Remember that it is God’s Word that you are hearing, so seek to receive it with humility and a right heart.
Obey the Word – Do not be hearers only, but doers of the word, James exhorts us. It is a waste of time to hear the sermon, and not be changed to conform to the word of God spoken in it.