In View of God’s Mercy: Evoking and Invoking Gratitude in Preaching

Although gratitude is sometimes mentioned by homileticians as
a motivator for discipleship, its place in sermons remains
relatively unexplored. This article considers how preachers can
intentionally evoke (draw forth) feelings of thankfulness and
invoke (appeal to) these as the impetus for obedience. This gracegratitude-
obedience pattern may be seen throughout the Bible;
however, recent New Testament scholarship has underscored
the extent to which, in the first century, grace demanded an
active response on the part of recipients. This is evident in Paul’s
letter to the Romans, particularly as he appeals to readers to offer
their bodies to God in view of his mercy—i.e., in gratitude for the
grace described in the preceding chapters. Preachers can follow
his example in their own sermons. However, to avoid moralism,
it is important that listeners are genuinely thankful to God. An
interdisciplinary exploration of gratitude offers a framework for
helping people feel thankfulness that can be used in sermoncrafting.
The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola are
examined as a model for evoking and invoking Christian gratitude
by personalizing God’s love in Christ and calling for an active
response. Finally, practical recommendations are offered,
applicable to a wide variety of models and methods.