Listening is one of the most powerful tools you can employ to improve your preaching. Of course, we primarily need to listen to God. In Isaiah 55:3 God calls us to do just that.

“Give ear and come to me. Hear me that your soul may live.”

You can listen to God in your reading. First, read the Scriptures. Every Pastor needs a regular system of reading God's word that is separate from you sermon studies. You will have trouble encouraging your people to open their lives to Scripture, if you do not regularly saturate yourself in God's word. I once heard a younger friend of T.B. Maston, who wrote Biblical Ethics, and other books, tell about Dr. Maston's reading habits. He liked to read in the library. And before he would read anything else, he would read the Bible for several hours, covering multiple books of the Bible in a sitting.

I also think every preacher should memorize Scripture. And it seems to me that if I will meditate on memorized Scripture, God inevitably touches my heart. From time to time I have benefited greatly by simply listening to recorded Scripture. Recordings of the Bible are readily available through Bible Gateway and other programs.

In addition to the Bible, you can read books in which God will personally engage your heart and mind. I am a slow reader. And this has been a problem for me all my life. But I still read several books at once. Ideally for my preaching I should read different kinds of books. One might be on biblical backgrounds, another historical fiction, and a third, poetry, or even a murder mystery. For many of us listening to a book is a helpful experience. In fact, if I read a really good book, fiction or nonfiction, I will often try to find it recorded and listen to it as well. Different things strike me while I am listening, than when I am reading.

Possibly the most important thing you can do to improve your preaching is to listen to sermons by other preachers. Do you have favorite preachers that you listen to? I had a friend in college who had met one of the best-known preachers of that day. And he took the opportunity to ask him what he did to prepare his messages. He said, “I get most of my messages as God speaks to me when I'm listening to other preachers.”



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