Below are the “Ten Commandments” of hearing the preaching of Gods word, originally outlined by Thomas Watson and here summarized by Joel Beeke and Ray Lanning in the book Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible.
1. When you come to God’s house to hear His Word, do not forget to prepare your soul with prayer.
2. Come with a holy appetite for the Word (1 Peter 2:2). A good appetite promotes good digestion.
3. Come with a tender, teachable heart (2 Chron. 13:7), asking, “Lord, what wilt thou have me do?” (Acts 9:6). It is foolish to expect a blessing if you come with a hardened, worldly-minded heart.
4. Be attentive to the Word preached. In Luke 19:48, we are told that the people “were very attentive” to Christ. Literally translated, the text says, “they hung upon him, hearing.” Lydia evidenced a heart opened by the Lord when she “attended” or “turned her mind” to the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14). Such attentiveness also involves banishing wandering thoughts, dullness of mind, and drowsiness (Matt. 13:25). Regard the sermon as it truly is – a matter of life and death (Deut. 32:47).
5. “Receive with meekness the engrafted word” (James 1:21). Meekness involves a submissive frame of heart – “a willingness to hear the counsels and reproofs of the word.” Through meekness, the Word is “engrafted” into the soul and produces “the sweet fruit of righteousness.”
6. Mingle the preached Word with faith: “The word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith” (Heb. 4:2). Roland H. Bainton, summing up Luther’s view, wrote: “Faith is not an achievement, it is a gift. Yet it comes only through the hearing and study of the Word.” If the chief ingredient of a medicine is missing, the medicine will not be effective; so be sure not to leave out the chief ingredient, faith, as you listen to a sermon. Believe and apply the Word. Put on Christ as He is preached (Rom. 13:14); apply the promises as they are spoken.
7. Strive to retain and pray over what you have heard. Don’t let the sermon run through your mind like water through a sieve (Heb. 2:1). “Our memories should be like the chest of the ark, where the law was put.” As Joseph Alleine advised, “Come from your knees to the sermon, and come from the sermon to your knees.”
8. Practice what you have heard. “Live out” the sermons you hear. Hearing that does not reform your life will never save your soul. Doers of the Word are the best hearers. Of what value is a mind filled with knowledge when not matched with a fruitful life?
9. Beg God to accompany His Word with the effectual blessing of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44). Without the Spirit, the medicine of the Word may be swallowed, but it will not result in healing.
10. Familiarize yourself with what you have heard. When you come home, speak to your loved ones about the sermon in an edifying manner: “My tongue shall speak of they word” (Ps. 119:172). Remember each sermon as if it will be the last you ever hear, for that may be the case.