How to listen to a sermon

In the 1770s, the great revivalist preacher George Whitefield wrote a brief article about how to listen to a sermon. As one who preached frequently and often to large crowds, Whitefield desired the hearts of men and women to be transformed by the gospel. Below I have listed Whitefield’s main points on how to listen to a sermon.


  1. Come to hear the sermon, not out of curiosity, but from a sincere desire to know and live out your calling – Attending church to be entertained, and not seek transformation of our hearts, is problematic. God has something to say to us, so let’s listen and learn together.


  1. Pay attention to the things that are spoken from the Word of God – If the Creator of the universe seeks to teach us what is necessary for our benefit and life with Him, how eager would we be to hear what it was we needed to know? It is the King of Kings and the Lord of lords seeking to give us peace, pardon and deep joy through his Word.


  1. Do not entertain prejudice against the minister – Remember the pastors are men and women like yourselves pursuing Christ with you. Ministers do not speak on their own but in the name of Christ. Be careful not to mistake a mishap or personality difference with rejecting God’s Word for you.


  1. Be careful not to depend too much on a preacher, or think more highly of him (or her) than you ought to think – preferring one teacher over another has often harmed the church. Ministers are sent to bear God’s good news of salvation. They walk with you in the faith; fame is never the goal.


  1. Make particular application to your own hearts of everything that is delivered – we often hear sermons and think of someone who might benefit from hearing it. Though that may be true, the more important work is to continually ask how this word applies to you.


6. Pray to the Lord, before, during, and after every sermon – There’s no better way to bless the minister with the power to speak and give you the will and ability to put God’s Word into practice than with prayer. Paul says in Ephesians 6:19-20: “Praying always, with all manner of prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and for me also, that I may open my mouth with boldness, to make known the mysteries of the gospel.” If the Apostle Paul need the Ephesian congregation’s help, how much more modern ministers?