The Most Neglected Component of Research?

February 13, 2008

Speaking at our first preaching seminar (Digging into the text pt 1) I suggested that there are three basic practices involved in research. Taking the risk of perhaps over-simplifying things, I said that biblical research involves the triad of praying, reading and questioning (the text).

Regarding prayer (perhaps the most neglected of the three?) I proposed that “the one who will speak for God in the pulpit, must firstly speak to God in the study.” In other words: prayer must permeate the whole preparation process. It should not merely be the emergency chord we pull for a few panicked moments in the pre-service vestry. Faris Whitesell explains such pervasive prayer better than I:

“The preacher must be a man of prayer. . . . He should pray for his messages . . . soak them in prayer, . . . pray as he goes into the pulpit, pray as he preaches insofar as that is possible, and follow up his sermons with prayer .” (from The Art of Biblical Preaching)



  1. …“the one who will speak for God in the pulpit, must firstly speak to God in the study.”

    Or, might one say, “…must first speak with God in the study”?

    Thanks for this, Colin. It reminds me of Tim Keller saying that if you add prayer to a list of things to do, you’ve misunderstood the place of prayer!

    David Reimer

  2. When it comes to the “questioning” component of researching a text, I think the most neglected resource is scholarly journals. Most preachers will turn to trusted commentaries at this point in their study, and that’s good and to be expected. But I wish more preachers would stay abreast of the most recent academic work that’s found in the best NT and OT journals.

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