Today I thought I would share part of the transcript of an interview I had with John Piper. In it Piper talks about what he aims for when he is preaching. Please pray for him that this week, as he speaks in London, it will be like this:
I just know that what I want is the gift of self-forgetfulness in what I would call a full engagement, a full passion, a full zeal with what’s there in the text, and the reality of God in and through the text. I want to see him, and know him, be engaged by him, be thrilled by him, say it with whatever effectiveness I can, and let the chips fall where they will. And that, as far as my own subjective awareness goes, that rises and falls. One Sunday I feel thrilled. I feel met. I feel carried. I feel helped. And others I don’t. But that doesn’t correlate necessarily with what God is doing in the people out there. So, to me, an effective, experienced sermon would be when I forget myself. I’m not thinking, “Oh, I’m doing well here,” or “I’m doing badly here,” or “That was an effective comment,” — anything like that ruins it for me. The gift is when you’re not outside yourself watching yourself. You’re so here—you’re so here that you’re not at all conscious—there’s no two of you, there’s just one of you, and God and the people, and a transaction is happening that’s a miracle. Because you can’t choose to forget yourself. The act of choosing to forget yourself is self-awareness. So it’s a gift. It’s a phenomenal precious gift in the moment. You pray for it ahead of time, and it may come for twenty minutes and then you lose it for ten, and you’re thinking about your hands, and you’re thinking about your notes, and you’re thinking about the faces out there, and it’s all discombobulated, and then it may be taken away in the moment, and you’re free to . . . you go, and you wake up ten minutes later and — What was THAT? You know? That was free!! So that’s what I’m after.
I think there are ways to cultivate what I’m talking about. It basically is cultivating God-centeredness. It’s cultivating prayer. It’s cultivating a serious engagement with the Word. It’s cultivating asking certain kinds of God-centered, Christ-exalting questions. There’s a focus and a preoccupation. And then my root Christian hedonism, I mean, my root philosophy of life — whether you are satisfied in God really does make a difference as to whether you can glorify God! That’s a huge thing! It’s a theoretical construct that I think is in the Bible, but it has a practical effect because I really believe that if you’re not passionate about God, you won’t glorify him as much. If you’re more passionate about football than God, you glorify football. If you’re more passionate about food or cooking or sex or money or work or the stock market than you are about God, then that’s what gets glorified. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. That construct of reality has an effect on how you pray about your life and how you live you life.