In an interview with Preaching Magazine, Pastor T. D. Jakes explained his four-step process of preparing a sermon. I found his description to be both helpful and encouraging.
I have a recipe for preaching that I have used for twenty-five years–it’s not original. I read it somewhere. I can’t remember where, but it stayed with me. It is a four step process.
The first one is to study yourself full. Gather as much information as possible on the subject that you are going to speak. The second one–which I think is perhaps even more critical than the first–is to think yourself clear. If you study yourself full but don’t think yourself clear, when you get up to speak you give a lot of facts but the facts have no continuity. I call it theological indigestion–you’re just sputtering up information that’s not put into a palatable format. The first one is study yourself full, the second one thing yourself clear.
The third one is pray yourself hot. If you don’t have a real passion about it, you can’t preach effectively. If it’s not hot to you, it won’t be hot to them. The fourth one, which is critical, it is let yourself go. Don’t be inhibited in the pulpit. You’re just an instrument. Don’t be so self-conscious that you’re not God-conscious. If you will let yourself go on stage and you are relaxed, then that relaxes the congregation. If the pastor is tight, the congregation is tight. Then the whole hour, or whatever it is, is laborious because nobody is comfortable. It is like riding with somebody–if you’ve ever gotten into a car with a driver who is nervous, their nervousness is contagious. You can feel them holding the wheel and shaking, and you’re sitting up there thinking something is wrong. That’s what happens when somebody mans the pulpit who will not let themselves go. If you study yourself full, think yourself clear, pray yourself hot, and let yourself go, you have a great experience.
“Preaching to mend broken lives: An interview with T. D. Jakes,” cited in Preaching with Power: Dynamic insights from twenty top pastors, edited by Michael Duduit