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Last month, I preached the greatest sermon ever recorded in the history of the world. Greatest, of course, because it is from the mouth of Jesus Christ himself. On April 19, at the request of our senior adults, I delivered the Sermon on the Mount from memory for our congregation. (See the video below.)

I encourage other pastors and preachers to consider preaching large sections of Scripture from memory. Your congregation will be edified in a special way.

Here are some tips for getting started:

1. Choose a literal Bible translation.

I chose to preach the Sermon on the Mount from the English Standard Version, since it is my translation of choice. You might assume that dynamic translations are easier to memorize, but such is not the case. Word-for-word translations are easier to commit to memory, probably because they are closer to the original text, which was intended to be passed down orally.

2. Listen to the Scriptures on Mp3.

For several weeks leading up to delivery, I listened to a recitiation of the Sermon on my Mp3 player. When taking  a shower, when in the car, before going to bed… Find time to listen to the text you want to preach.

3. Read the passage out loud once or twice daily.

Listening helps solidify the words of the text in your mind. But nothing will substitute for the hard work of reading the text out loud and then trying to say it word for word. Try reading the text every night before going to bed. Sleep will help you retain the main ideas of the text.

4. Practice the sermon with someone who is not afraid to correct every mistake.

Corina was a big help to me as I prepared for the Sermon. Whenever I missed a word or phrase, she would let me know. Discovering where the difficulties are will help you be more comfortable as you continue the work of memorization.

An example: Many of Jesus’ words in the Sermon are in chiastic structure, not Western-styled outline form. (1) No one can serve two masters. For either he will (2) hate the one and (3) love the other, or he will be (3) be devoted to the one and (2) despise the other. (1) You cannot serve God and money. The chiastic structure is unfamiliar to us and can lead to easy mistakes. Understanding the structure helps you catch the rhythm of the ancient text.

Below is the video from my Sermon on the Mount delivery:

Part 1 (Matthew 5)

Part 2 (Matthew 6-7)

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8 thoughts on “Preaching the Sermon on the Mount from Memory”

  1. pastor jim sharp says:

    i watched/listened with special interest. providentially…i’m preaching “the Lord’s prayer” at this time. how blessed is the hearing of the Word — intensified by memorization as it is a living demonstration of its value to the one who commits to the labor of memorizing it.

    loved hearing the voice of a child in the background !! the Words are packed full of real life!

  2. David Cooke says:

    We too are preaching through the Lord’s prayer. Thank you so much for sharing this- I may go and do likewise….

  3. Rich Schmidt says:

    Ha! Perfect! I’m wrapping up a long sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount on June 21, and I was planning to memorize it and preach it as a whole as part of that last Sunday’s message. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Casey Holencik says:

      Very timely as I will be preach in through the Sermon on the Mount starting in early August. Thank you

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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