As many have noted, one of the downfalls of contemporary preaching is its application focus. When application is our focus, we preach to the will, not the heart. As a result, we make disciples who “do,” who live by works despite our soteriological claims to justification by faith alone. Edwards, as usual, provides a helpful corrective to contemporary aims in preaching. He also offers an encouragement to preachers that despair over forgotten sermons. Remembering the sermon, according to Edwards, is not the point in preaching.
The main benefit obtained by preaching is by an impression made upon the mind at the time, and not by an effect that arises afterwards by a remembrance of what was delivered. And though an after-remembrance of what was heard in a sermon is oftentimes very profitable; yet, for the most part, that remembrance is from an impression the words made on the heart at the time; and the memory profits, as it renews and increases that impression. (Thoughts on the Revival, Part III, emphasis added)
Be released from application-driven preaching into heart-focused preaching. Pray that God would make an impression upon the hearts of your people to such a degree that application is the side-effect of a sincere love for God.