Jesus taught His disciples to be "good soil" by listening to God's Word with teachable spirits (Matthew 13:1-23). How we listen to sermons determines how they impact our lives. We can listen passively, or we can listen with our spiritual ears actively tuned in to what the Spirit of God is saying. So how should we listen to sermons? Chuck Gianotti makes these practical suggestions for how to be more receptive to the teaching of the Word.
Read through and think about the Biblical passage ahead of time as often as this is announced or in the bulletin the previous week. This will help put you into a state of mental readiness to hear God’s teaching. Ideally, this should be done Saturday evening or Sunday morning just before church.
As the speaker begins, pray to the Lord asking Him to teach you by His Spirit this will put you in a state of spiritual readiness. The speaker has studied diligently and has himself prayed that the Spirit would use his efforts to powerfully communicate God's teaching to hearts. It is only when the God works in both your life and the speaker’s life that the human words of the message become charged with spiritual power. It is a two-way dynamic. Even if you find the message initially uninteresting or maybe the speaker is ‘off’ this particular day, the Spirit can still take some aspect of message or passage and provide a message for you.
Make a point of selecting one take-away from the message or something to apply to your life, put into practice, praise God for or share with others. It is only when this happens that the preaching of the Word has its intended effect - a changed life.
As soon after the message as possible, read the passage again and review your notes. This will help remind you and solidify the teaching in your mind and heart.
For those who desire more of a challenge, you might take a key verse from the message and commit it to memory. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart.”