I started a Preaching Video Series called Sunday Night Notes. It’s going to be weekly reflections on what I’m learning about preaching. One of the thoughts that came out of that time was how can we learn to preach in the Spirit. Preaching in the Spirit is often thought of as spontaneous talking, with no preparation, and in the moment.
At it’s best, it can be the right word at the right time…at its worst, just a bunch of rambling that makes no sense and cause a lot of harm.
But I think that to preach in the Spirit requires us to prepare more than for any sermon manuscript. While weekly preaching and teaching requires us to reflect, write and perform our messages, preaching in the Spirit requires us to Be Present in the Moment, Listen and understand what the Spirit is doing, and then sharing with humility and trust the Word that God gives you. You need a PREPARED SOUL.
There are no short cuts to soul preparation, or the term I like to use is SOUL CARE. Caring for our souls is key for us to consistently hear from God and speak in the Spirit. This takes discipline, time and focus. But if you develop this area of your life, it will pay off in huge ways. I want to share four soul care practices to develop your soul to preach in the Spirit.
Also, if you’re not a preacher, these practices will help you recognize God at work in your life.
I’ve talked about this practice before. I need to write a post on how preachers can use Lectio in their preparation. But this is Latin for Sacred Reading. This is NOT study, but simply letting the text speak to us. You read the text once and let a word or phrase speak to you. Then you read it again, and filter what you are reading through that word or phrase, and then you read the text again and pray to God the text you are reading. As you go through the process, you sense the presence and power of Jesus.
Silence and Solitude.
This practice has been the most critical in my growth as a preacher. It’s in silence and solitude, but getting away and being with God can we most accurately prepare our hearts. Before we can speak to men about God, we need to speak to God about men. I try to make it a regular practice to get away at least once a month to just hear from God. Sometimes He speaks to me about my preaching, about church, about my family. Sometimes, we just spend time together. I’ve learned to recognize God’s Spirit and His Presence when we do those things together.
In the hustle and bustle of pastoral ministry, there are so many pressures that are on top of us. Church pressures, counseling, family, etc. Yet, when we prepare to hear from God, we need to quiet those voices and distractions. Centering prayer has been such an incredible tool to quiet my anxious thoughts, clear my heart, and begin to listen. When I’ve quieted myself…I can hear Him better. This practice has been essential when I feel caught up in Anxiety and fear.
I’ve been journaling all my life. I started in 1st grade and haven’t stopped. Journaling helps me get on paper the chaos in my head and then I can pick out the themes that are coming out. Usually in that mess, I start to sense the Spirit speaking to me. And then I can respond and move according to God’s rhythm.
There are some excellent books to help you develop habits and patterns to hear from God and speak as well:
Nithin is a follower of Jesus, husband, father, and pastor. I want to see Christians humbly and compassionately engage culture with the gospel of Jesus to see personal and cultural transformation.
This is the nerd in me, but I find “word study rabbit trails” where God speaks to me all the time. We have so many amazing study tools available to us now that I often start on one topic and God blows my mind on something entirely different. I am also a big fan of prayer. I have a practice of simply stopping before any study or writing and simply asking God to reveal Himself though what I am about to do. It takes me anywhere from 10 seconds to 5 minutes but it shifts my intention from realization to revelation.