Sometimes the obvious needs stating. Preachers should be pray-ers. While it may be possible to follow a procedure and produce a sermon, we must never lose sight of the fact that it is not possible to achieve life transformation unless God is at work. Thus, we need to be on our knees. I could leave it at that, but let me give some examples of how I stimulate my own prayer life regarding ministry (although I know I could do so much more):
1. Pre-prep prayer. Before planning the preaching calendar, and then before preparing a series or a specific message, pray. For example, while driving I will sometimes mentally survey through forthcoming ministry in my mind and pray for each meeting. I might cover three to six months worth of varied ministry in a decent length car journey.
2. Pew and pulpit prayer. Before moving into the role I have now, I was in a more normal local church situation. This meant I could go to the church and run through my message on the platform. I know some preachers who like to pray through their notes as preparation, which is a good option. For me it works well to actually preach through the message and then pray about it. So after preaching it through I would spend time pacing the platform, praying for the meeting, then sitting in the pews and praying for the people who would be there. It is easy to be specific in the prayer when you can see in your mind the people who will be sitting there. (It is not so easy to do this when you preach in different churches, or your church meets in a rented facility. To be honest, I miss these times.)
3. Pre-preaching prayer. Before the sermon, if possible, I like to be near the back of the room. That way I can be thinking through the message and praying for the specific people who are present. Unfortunately some churches expect the speaker to sit on the front pew, or even worse, to run the whole meeting.
Just three of many many possibilities. I’d love to read what other preachers do, please comment. Whatever you do, may you be like James the brother of Jesus, aka camel knees.