“Keep me in tune with Thee”

It should go without saying that expositors should pray before they preach. However, we all know too well the painful reality of a sermon preached without the proper petitioning of the Lord. I found a helpful prayer in the Puritan classic, The Valley of Vision called “A Minister’s Preaching” which is humbling and instructive all at once as to the task of preaching. The author is unnamed.

My Master God
I am desired to preach today, but go weak and needy to my task;
Yet I long that people might be edified with divine truth, that an honest testimony might be borne for thee;
Give me assistance in preaching and prayer, with heart uplifted for grace and unction.
Present to my view things pertinent to my subject, with fullness of matter and clarity of thought, proper expressions, fluency, fervency, a feeling sense of the things I preach,
and grace to apply them to men’s consciences.

Keep me conscious all the while of my defects, and let me not gloat in pride over my performance.
Help me to offer a testimony for thyself, and to leave sinners inexcusable in neglecting thy mercy.
Give me freedom to open the sorrows of thy people, and to set before them comforting considerations.
Attend with power the truth preached, and awaken the attention of my slothful audience.
May thy people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted, and help me to use the strongest arguments drawn from Christ’s incarnation and sufferings, that men might be made holy.

I myself need thy support, comfort, strength, holiness, that I might be a pure channel of thy grace, and be able to do something for thee;
Give me then refreshment among thy people, and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way, or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a redeemer, or be harsh in treating of Christ’s death, its design and end, from lack of warmth and fervency.
And keep me in tune with thee as I do this work.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks, Paul, for this convicting and encouraging reminder that our twin task includes both prayer and the ministry of the Word.

  2. Thanks Chris, I was really hit with the line, “help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way.” Guilty as charged.

  3. Yes, Paul. I find in my own life and ministry a subtle, yet powerful temptation to rely solely on my intellect, exegetical skill, theological acumen, or a host of other self-generated supports for the effectiveness of my messages when in relity their success in the transforming of lives lies ultimately in God’s good and sovereign pleasure to use such means (which are actually gifts from Him) to accomplish His redemptive purposes. My preayerlessness reveals a profound lack of understanding regarding the true nature of the spiritual work I am called to. Let’s pray for one another against giving in to such egregious temptation and sin.

  4. Paul, I think that this should go in the front of my Bible to be prayed before every sermon/lesson. Thank God for men who sought to exemplify pastoral ministry.

    I once heard a pastor say that we should pray more AFTER a sermon than before. If we look at the parable of the soils (and interpret it correctly!), three of the four soils responded poorly after hearing the Word.

    1. “And these are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.” (Mark 4:15).

    2. “And in a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.” (Mark 4:16-17).

    3. “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 and the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark 4:18-19).

    May our prayers be effective in petitioning God to allow the hearts of men to respond well to the hearing of God’s Word, “And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it, and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:20).

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