Today is the last Sunday of 2009. If we have attended church on each Sunday, we have participated in at least 52 sermons – some will have participated in far more, perhaps over 100. There are several ways in which we can reflect on these services. For example, if we failed to trust in Jesus for mercy, then we have lost many opportunities to have done so. Or we could say that each service was an opportunity to remind ourselves about an aspect of God or to learn something new about God – we would know quite a lot about him if we had used each service in this way. No doubt we can think of other ways by which to describe our involvement in these services.
As we anticipate another set of services next year, we should resolve to use each one for our spiritual benefit. The best way to prepare for each service is by prayer. Sometimes we imagine that prayer is a bit complicated and quite difficult to maintain. Even the most experienced Christian will confess that this is the case. Yet often, the reality is that prayer is straightforward.
A good way to pray is to send short petitions to God on a regular basis during a sermon. Before each feature of a service, such as when singing a psalm or listening to a passage from the Bible, we should ask God to bless that feature to us. It is amazing what you will begin to notice after you begin to pray in this way.
Of course, it is also very important to ask God to enable us to remember what we heard in the sermon – not every detail but the main point(s) of it. Sometimes, a person will complain about themselves to me and say that they find it hard to recall what is said. While it may be the case that the person has a bad memory, the lack of recall may be due to a failure to pray that God would enable us to remember what is good for our souls.
Remember that prayer is simply asking God to do something for us. If we ask him to bless to us each stage of the service, including remembering what was said in a sermon, we will find that he gives spiritual blessing each time we gather in public worship.