Several years back I had a couple leave the church I was serving. (Unfortunately, not an altogether uncommon event). The given reason why they left the church was that I had stopped giving a public prayer before the sermon. There was a public communal prayer earlier in the service, but the woman was quite vociferous that I needed to pray publicly for just the sermon before I got up to preach. (Maybe she felt only God could help my sermons be understandable? I don’t know…LOL)
As I explained to her, I ALWAYS prayed before preaching. But it was between God and me. It seemed like a bit of “show” to HAVE to pray before the sermon.
She was not impressed. (Oh well…)
I find it interesting that at the church we currently attend (where I do not preach) the practice is totally dependent upon who is preaching. When the main preacher (Guy) begins his sermons he very seldom will begin with a prayer. When his assistant (Adam) preaches, he always prays before he preaches. I do find it interesting that his prayer for the sermon on Mothers Day was totally about mothers and not really about the sermon at all. I have no problem with praying for and about mothers on Mothers Day, but the prayer could have been anywhere in the service. Why there? Would it have sufficed for the woman who was so upset with me? It was right before the sermon, but not about the sermon…
I know that it is often said that the prayer before the sermon helps prepare the congregation for the message. But that is the purpose of a sermon introduction. Do we really need to prepare them in prayer and then prepare them in an introduction? Seems pretty redundant to me.
Anyway, I don’t feel strongly one way or the other about whether one should have a public prayer before preaching.
But yesterday I heard an audio by John Fallahee of LearnLogos.com and he gave an outline for praying before a sermon that I found helpful. It very closely ties the prayer in with the text of the sermon and (I believe) would do a good job of preparing the people’s hearts for the sermon.
John uses the acrostic: S.T.A.R.T.
- Solemnly Praise & recognize the greatness of our God and Savior connected to the Biblical text being preached.
- Touch upon the subject of corporate sin & confess any shortcomings the body has committed related to the Biblical text to be preached.
- Ask God to help the body to hear & apply the the truths of the biblical text to be preached
- Review and remind the audience of a key related passage to the biblical text being preached
- Transition to opening of the sermon and the Biblical text to be preached.
I’m not sure I’m still convinced that I need to pray publicly before every sermon, but if I do, that seems to me to be a pretty good format to use.
Thoughts either on that acrostic or on the topic of praying before a sermon?