I publicly pray before I start my sermons. I also privately pray as I preach.
Can you preach and pray at the same time?
Multiple things go through the preacher’s mind as he preaches. I’m not sure the preacher thinks about multiple things at the same time. Rather, the mind quickly and constantly shifts from one thing to another—consisting of good and bad thoughts, true and false, wise and foolish.
This is why I pray as I preach.
There are three fundamental things I need God to do me for as I preach.
I need God to guide my thoughts.
Have you ever tried to pray, only to have your mind flooded with distractions? The same thing can happen in preaching.
All kinds of mundane thoughts come to mind. Members walk. Babies cry. Children pass notes. Deacons sleep. Others seem more interested in their cell phones. You spot guests. You don’t see a faithful member in her regular spot. You start thinking about last week. Or you start thinking about next week.
There are moments of distraction in preaching when I openly ask God to hold my mind. But this petition is secretly and repeatedly uttered throughout the message. The words you say in preaching are offerings of worship. So are the thoughts you entertain as you preach the word! You need God to bring to your memory what he taught you in private. You need God to help you stay focused. You need God to reign in your wandering thoughts.
I need God to guard my heart.
Faithful preaching requires mental preparation and concentration. Moreover, it demands spiritual devotion. It doesn’t matter if your head is in the game if your heart is not.
The preacher should offer the Lord a prepared message, a rested body and a consecrated heart. So examine your hearts for any unconfessed sin before you stand to preach. And continue the spiritual examination as you preach.