It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Are you getting healed at church? I am not talking necessarily about physical healing, but spiritual and emotional healing. Are you hearing anything during a church service that can bring healing to your life?
In his book, Rewiring Your Preaching: How the Brain Processes Sermons, author Richard Cox, who is both an ordained minister and a medical doctor, describes the effect sermons have on the human brain.
While Cox describes many ways the human brain is affected by preaching, one of his statements caught my eye the other day. He wrote this, “Many view public preaching as education, lecturing, instruction, teaching and edification, and it is all of that, but infinitely more. At the very base, preaching is healing in the deepest and broadest sense of the word healing, for to heal is to make whole.” (pg. 63)
Preaching is healing in the deepest and broadest sense. I guess I knew that, but it is interesting that there actually some physiological evidence to back that up. Preaching is healing because it is worship. It draws the person into a unique encounter with the Living God. Preaching reminds us of God’s holiness, His salvation and His grace. No longer are we alone, struggling by ourselves, imprisoned by the guilt of our sin. In Christ, God has set us free to live for Him. Preaching enhances our faith, and faith, as the Bible makes clear, is an indispensable part of the healing process. Preaching offers hope, that certain reminder that our all-powerful, utterly good, promise-keeping God is aware of our circumstances and has an eternal purpose He is moving toward. All these things positively affect the physiology of our brain and are able to move us toward wholeness in mind and spirit.
But Cox also has some words of warning for folks like me.
“Good preaching must be applied uniquely to the preacher before it can be made public, thus allowing the power of the sermon to heal the messenger first. The preacher first digests the message and, after finding the discourse instructive and healing, is able to apply it to others. If the preacher is not made more whole by the content, there is little hope that others will benefit from it either. After the preacher has faced the truths and convictions of the Word in the privacy of the study and personal prayer, it may then – and only then – be viewed as appropriate for congregational consumption.” (p. 63)
Pastors, take those words to heart. Your sermon should be doing a healing work in you first before it does a healing work in your flock. And for those who are not pastors – you now know how to pray for your pastor. Pray that as your pastor studies and prepares, that God’s Word would move them toward greater wholeness, thus equipping them to offer a message of hope and healing their flock as well.