Blogger Tim Challies discusses some truths he learned about preaching now that he is doing it regularly. Among his insights: Preparing to preach is really hard work.
“Somewhere along the way, I got the idea that preparing a sermon would be a blessed time of being carried along by the Holy Spirit as He gave me startling insights into His Word. I would spend hours in prayer, a few minutes reading commentaries, and just allow the Spirit to guide my pen.
“But it turns out that most of sermon preparation is a tough slog of trying to understand difficult words, of desperately trying to find some kind of a structure in the text and then allowing that structure to inform the sermon. It is a battle of the mind and an all-out spiritual battle.
“There is prayer, to be sure. The Holy Spirit really does help in very tangible ways. Yet sermon preparation is a long and difficult battle full of metaphorical blood and very genuine sweat and tears. Reading books and listening to sermons didn’t prepare me at all to understand just how difficult it is to take a relatively straightforward passage, to understand it, to structure it, and to have something worthwhile to say about it…
“Sermon preparation truly is a joy and a blessing, but that joy and blessing comes through hard work, not apart from it. God shapes the preacher through His Word—through the difficult work of studying and understanding and applying that Word. I don’t think we do ourselves any favors by romanticizing it.” (Click to read the full article.)