There are a number of things that we need to do as we prepare sermons. We need to select a passage of Scripture. We need to study that passage. We (generally) need to write down our thoughts and organize them.

But I think before you even start to prepare a sermon, you need to prepare yourself.

Just as there are a number of things we need to do as we prepare sermons, there are also a number of things we ought to do as we prepare ourselves to preach. This certainly is not the definitive list, but here are my ideas as to how we can and should prepare ourselves to be in the pulpit.

1. Be immersed in the Word.

Don’t make Bible reading something you only do to prepare sermons. Saturate yourself with God’s Word.

If we think we have a message of hope, we ourselves should find hope in the message! If we think the Bible’s message is full of joy, we should find joy in the Bible! If we think God’s Word contains wisdom because it’s from God, then we should read it not just so that we can speak it, but so that we also may become wise in our thoughts and actions.

2. Be devoted to prayer.

Our work is not merely academic in nature. It’s about relating to God. I can’t think of a more fundamental way of relating to God than through prayer.

Through prayer, we not only acknowledge facts about the nature of God, but we also tell Him that we see those facts as beautiful and good, and that we humble ourselves before the God who has those qualities. When we pray, we are in essence telling God that we trust Him and want to know Him more.

Of course, this assumes that we pray a certain way. We don’t pray merely to command God to give us things. We pray in faith, knowing that He wants what is best for us. Even though our prayers will often include things that we ask for, we ultimately need to trust that God knows better than us.

3. Be obedient in your lifestyle.

While it’s impossible to be perfect this side of heaven, we should never use that as an excuse. Our aim at all times is to be obedient to our Lord.

God is not looking for hypocrites to preach His Word. While the message itself may still honor Him, we’ve probably all heard of preachers discredited because of some secret sin that had later come to light. We ought to honor the Lord not just in our preaching, but in our lifestyle.

While I think this point is very important when it comes to being prepared to preach, we should also not allow our degree of personal holiness to cause us to become narcissistic, because we all have a long way to go, and we are only preaching and living by the grace of God.

4. Be confident in your Lord.

We can have confidence in our lives and preaching because of what Jesus has done for us. He died for us, to save us from sin, and to redeem a people for Himself. And He’s given us His Holy Spirit so that we would be empowered to live as His people.

This means that when we live (which includes when we preach), God’s Spirit is with us to lead us in the right direction. This happens as we read His Word, pray, and seek to be obedient. If we’ve trusted in Jesus, and are doing these things, we can have confidence that God will use our preaching.

I’m not saying that by doing these things, we’ll be perfect. I often cringe at the mistakes I still make in my preaching. But I rest in the fact that God is using me, and that I can’t mess up God’s plan.

What are some ways that you prepare yourself to preach?