Try to represent, not impress

Through the years many individuals have allowed their public prayers to become repetitive. And while it’s not wrong to include some of the same thoughts each time we pray (1 Timothy 2:1-5, Luke 18:13, as well as the outlined points by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13 are good examples), if our prayer is nearly verbatim every time we pray on behalf of the congregation then we need to stop and think before we speak.

Am I saying our prayer must have 50 dollar words and a flow that would make the national poetic society become green with envy? No. I’m not talking about impressing people with our prayer. I’m talking about representing people with our prayer.

If you know a family has suffered recently, you could mention them. If a family has received good news recently, you could mention that. If you are familiar with the language that is used in reference to God throughout the Psalms, you could use them in connection to the church in asking for God’s help (High-tower, Shield, Strength, Light and Salvation, etc.). If the congregation supports a missionary, children’s homes or other local evangelistic efforts such as House to House, you could mention them. God has already heard the news, but if there’s a major headline news story that you know has the attention of a large percentage of the congregation, you can mention that situation.

Again, the point isn’t to impress others with our prayer originality or sophisticated sound. The point is to represent those on whose behalf we are praying for, and to simply avoid being so repetitive with our public prayers that the people we are representing know what we’re going say before we even say it.

Then the king turned around and blessed the whole assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing. And he said: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has fulfilled with His hands what He spoke with His mouth to my father David, saying,…When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.” (2 Chronicles 6:3-4; 7:1)

#prayer, #public-speaking, #tips-for-worship

Listening to Myself

I admit it. I do not like listening to the sound of my voice. I also do not like looking at myself. My work on television requires I do both.

For several years now I have had to take a critical look and listen at myself with the intent of improving my feeble efforts. I don’t like it, but I need to do it.

Recently I heard a preacher give a very fine lesson in content, but his tone of voice gave a mixed message. His message of consolation to the troubled sounded more like a scolding. I know he did not intend that; he is a good friend and brother in the Lord.

I want to suggest to all my preaching brothers to listen to your sermons, not so much for content as for the emotional message in the tone of voice. Does it match the content?

I would ask farther that each preaching brother listen to the cadence, pitch, and melody of the voice. Is it constant or is there variety?

Of course, the content of the message must be foremost–I fully hold that!

But to maturing preachers who have settled faith, I ask if they have thought of the skill of preaching lately?

Raymond Kelcy asked me in 1984 if I could be the kind of preacher he would want to listen to for the next ten years. Brother Kelcy revealed to me that he read a new book or re-read an old one on preaching every year. I began that practice 25 years ago. I think it has helped.

Early in ministry we must build primarily our Biblical base and understanding, but as we mature we should work at building skills. The more skills we acquire, the more doors will open to us.

Would you want to listen to you for the next ten years? Even if you present Biblically-based and rich sermons in content, would you want to remain at your present skill level?

Preachers who grow continue to preach. Preachers who fail to grow find disappointment.

With great appreciation and respect for all preachers of the one true gospel,
Phil Sanders

#gospel, #preaching, #public-speaking, #skill, #tone-of-voice