“Give me life according to your Word!”
Psalm 119:25

Do you think a pastor should be prepared when he stands to preach God’s Word? I’m sure most would agree he must. It is a high and holy calling to proclaim God’s Word (2 Tim 4:2). And those who do so bear a responsibility to be prepared (2 Tim 2:15) by means of regular prayer, careful study and utter dependence on the Holy Spirit as they step into the pulpit.

But what about those who hear the Word proclaimed? What responsibility do they bear? Have you thought about that? If it is, indeed, God’s Word being proclaimed, shouldn’t we prepare our hearts to receive it? (And isn’t that one point Jesus makes in the parable of the soils in Mark 4? To have a ready heart?)

What, then, follows is based on something I came across this week on the “Gospel Relevance” blog by David Qaoud. It concerns how to come to church with a ready heart. I’ve paraphrased his thoughts and added some of my own.

1. Know the Bible passage ahead of time. It helps to know the passage your pastor will preach ahead of time so you can be thinking about it yourself.

2. Physically open your Bible to the passage being preached. By turning to the passage yourself, you take an important step toward a full engagement with the Word. Listen and follow along during the sermon. And I would add, and take notes! Research shows that by taking notes you help solidify the things you hear within your mind!

3. Read or study the book your pastor is preaching. As your pastor leads verse by verse through a book, try to spend time each week studying that book yourself and thinking through any thoughts or questions you might have.

4. Guard your Saturday night. Turn off the T.V. Leave the party. Get away from your phone. Guard your Saturday nights by paying attention to the content you consume and how it distracts you. Also, make sure you get enough sleep.

5. Guard your Sunday morning. For moms with children, sometimes getting ready for church is like running through the valley of the shadow of death. But if you are able to do so, rise early to pray and read your Bible to prepare your heart to receive what the Lord has for you. Help your children prepare as well.

Preaching is not one-sided communication, but a conversation involving God, the preacher and each hearer. We all get more out of it when we do our part.

May God make His word fill you richly with His presence, grace and truth!

Pastor S. Scott Lee