How to Listen to a Sermon: 15 Practical Tips for Receiving the Word

How to Listen to a Sermon: 15 Practical Tips for Receiving the Word

Maintain a posture of humility and submission to the Word. We can easily get distracted or think, “I know this already!” when a common passage is preached. We are always under the authority of God’s Word and our focused listening and submission to His Word will serve as worship to our God. Apply truths from the message to yourself—and write them down. We don’t want to be top-heavy Christians–that is, have disproportionately big heads from Bible knowledge but a small body from not walking it out. 

“Pay attention to what you hear.”

Those were Jesus’ words to his followers shortly after sharing the Parable of the Soils in Mark 4, a parable that explains the different results of Word proclamation.

In that parable, some hear the Word, only to have it snatched away by the devil. Others do not receive the Word due to tribulation on account of the Word or are choked out by daily life and the cares of this world. The ones who hear the Word and accept it are the only ones to bear fruit. As believers, we are to pay attention to what we hear so we can bear fruit of “thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:20).

How we listen to and receive the preached Word will greatly impact our Christian maturity and fruitfulness. 

Jesus wants us to be active listeners—men and women who work hard at understanding God’s Word with their minds and applying it to their hearts. This truth can be applied in many different settings but perhaps none more obvious than from the pulpit on a Sunday morning.

On any given Sunday, there are countless distractions that can hinder a hearing and receiving of the Word: crying babies, a bad night’s sleep, thoughts from earlier in the day, or a short attention span. This is not to mention the spiritual war taking place as the Word is preached. That is why gospel proclamation is part of the armor of God (see Ephesians 6:1519). It advances the cause of God against the enemy.

How can we best listen to a sermon so we will receive the Word of God?

15 Practical Tips for Receiving the Word

1. Prepare your heart in prayer. Pray to have listening ears and that the Spirit would sow the Word into your heart. Confess your sin and examine yourself to see if any cares of the world might be choking out your desire to receive the Word and obey it (Mark 4:18-19).

2. Pray for the proclamation of the Word. Pray for your pastor to faithfully proclaim the Word in the Spirit’s power. Pray that the congregation would be challenged, instructed, and built up from the preaching of the Word.

3. Read the passage to be preached before the service starts. This is done preferably at home to set your mind on the eternal truth you will receive during the message. Humbly pray over the passage for the Spirit’s illumination and help applying it.

4. Prepare your mind and body for receiving the Word.

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