Saturday, July 22, 2006
By Michael Eaton
The 1992 movie entitled “Prelude to a Kiss” follows the traditional pattern of a romantic love affair. The characters Peter and Rita fall in love and get married. The prelude to the kiss was the giddiness of the newness of falling in love fast and furiously. This is what came before a kiss that would cause an upheaval. Julius an uninvited wedding guest approaches Rita and asks to kiss her as a means of congratulations. She agrees and when their lips meet transference takes place. Suddenly, Rita finds herself in the old man's body while his essence inhabits her form. When Peter and Rita head off on their Jamaican honeymoon, she is literally not the girl he fell in love with.
The Preacher’ Prelude
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. Jeremiah 23:21 KJ
The preacher’ prelude is as problematic as the kiss is to the plot of, “Prelude to a Kiss.” The preachers’ calling is a kiss from God that would cause transference from the prelude of his life. Because of this transference, it is not uncommon for the most powerful preachers of our time and times passed to have never wanted to preach. Unwilling preachers seem to make the most powerful preachers in their time. Because they received a kiss from God, and an upheaval of wills takes place. The transference transports an unwilling preachers’ plan for his life to God’s plan for his life.
The older preachers always said that there were two kinds of preachers. The preacher who “went” and the preacher who was “sent.” In the Old Testament God expressed His anger for the “went” preacher by saying, " I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied." (Jer. 23:21). The New Testament makes plain that God gives a special call to those whom He sends to preach the Gospel. Romans 10:15, "And how shall they preach unless they are sent?" The great British preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones declared, "A preacher is not a Christian who decides to preach," "It is God who commands preaching, it is God who sends out preachers."
Seventeen in twenty pastors (83 percent) believe that God has clearly communicated to them a unique calling—to a life of ministry in their current job…More than a third (37 percent) of pastors say their calling became known to them through a gradual process rather than a defining moment.
If you what to have power in your preaching you must be call out, set apart, and sent by the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit gives the supreme power to preach the Word of God. Peter is a great example of that on the day of Pentecost in Act 2:14-41.
The Greatest Power
The Holy Spirit is the greatest power for the preaching of God’s Word. God must call out the preacher in the genesis of his preaching. The preacher must depend on the Holy Spirit’s power in preparing His sermon. The preacher must depend on the Holy Spirit for the delivery of His message.
I have been a great fan of preaching without notes or with a partial outline. Dr. Kent Anderson on this website offer these homiletic insights to preaching without notes.
Generally, it would be wise for the preacher to make use of as little notes as possible without losing coherence and impact…Fewer notes is probably better as long as the quality of content remains uncompromised…It should be noted that preaching without notes is not the recitation of a memorized manuscript. The preacher does not need to be on the platform trying to recall those things that have been formerly committed to memory. This can be crippling. The preacher, rather, is working out of the overflow, sharing from a heart and mind that has well assimilated the truth and stories of the sermon.
This is great insight to preaching without notes. The Holy Spirit takes the well-assimilated truth or stories and adds power. When I am preaching without notes or a partial outline, I am amazed to see how the Holy Spirit speaks by filling in the lines. I have become so dependant upon the Holy Spirit’s power. There have been a few times when the Holy Spirit as I was speaking changed my sermon to His message. I do not know how He did it. I just know who was doing it. I opened my mouth and other words begin to come out. I remember preparing my sermon, however, I am not talking about being unprepared. I begin to discern that this is not my discourse. There were a few times that I prayed under my breath, “Ok Lord, I will follow you and I cast myself upon the staffing wind of the Holy Spirit’s power.
As I listen to the tape later to see what the Spirit said, I have learned that the Holy Spirit makes sense. Now figure that out. When I listen to the tape there was a direct divine design to His message. In other words, I was not out chasing rabbits. We have all heard those kinds of sermons. You would think that after thirty minutes to an hour, that you would understand the sermon. How you ever asked the question? “Now what did he say? There are times that I preach without notes or with an outline. I am always excited to listen to the tape to see what the Spirit has said. The Holy Spirit almost always changes some part of my sermon to His message. The Holy Spirit is the powers that calls you, assists your research, and always assist you in delivering His message.
The Preachers’ Prayer
But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. Acts 6:4 KJ
Put power in your preaching through prayer. The call to preach is a simultaneous call to pray. It is by prayer that you depend on the Holy Spirit of God. We should pray before we prepare. We should pray before we preach. We should also pray before parting from our people. Powerful preaching begins with powerful pray. Also, people can see a sermon better than they can hear a sermon. Therefore the preacher’ prayer should not just be a prayer to preach powerfully. It should be a prayer to live powerfully.
A. W. Tozer gives a wonderful example of this kind of prayer. His prayer although prayed about a century ago stands as a beautiful jewel of a prayer for the preacher of the New Millennial. Here is an excerpt from his prayer as a preacher seeking God's power and glory.
Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should be come a religious scribe and thus lose my prophetic calling.
Save me from the curse that lies dark across the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering.
Help me to remember that I am a prophet - not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house.
Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world.
Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could.
Fill me with Thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go in Thy strength…
The preacher’s prayer is to be filled each day with the wisdom and strength of the one who initially called him to the task of preaching. The power to preach comes from an abiding with God. Abiding with God is more than prayer. However, you cannot begin to abide with God without prayer. If we really believe that the primary job of the preacher is to pray and study as Act 6:4 says than our daily routine would look more like the scheduled listed below as opposed to the busy routines of the twenty- first century:
9:00A-12:00P Prayer Time
12:00P-1:00P Fasting & Prayer
1:00P-5:00P Study The Word
Thomas Chalmers, the noted Scotch theologian, believed that most failures in the ministry are due, not to lack of study or visiting or church activities, but to lack of prayer.
James S. Stewart suggested in “Heralds of God,” “. . . whether your congregation be large or small a great part of your task on its behalf lies in the realm of intercession . . . I mean praying for every family, each separate soul, by name.” He advocated praying for about three families a day. Visualize their circumstances, think of their work, difficulties, temptations. This consumes time, but the effect on the people and the minister himself would be most helpful.
Prayer and preaching is like rowing in a boat with two paddles. As long as you are using both paddles, you will be able to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform people into the image of Christ. However, you will preach in circles without the paddle of prayer. You will also pray in circles without the paddle of preaching the Word of God.
We tend to fall short in our prayer ministry. When we fall short in the prayer ministry, our preaching and peoples lives are lived in circles. We have a church, ministry, and people that are analogous with the children of Israel who wondered for forty years in the wilderness trying to accomplish an eleven-day journey.
We don’t pray and that is why we preach the same sermon on an annual or semi annual basic. We don’t pray like we should. That is why we buy our sermons online and call it research. We don’t pray and that is why we look and preach identical to the latest TV preachers. We don’t pray for our people and that is why Satan is having his way with our parishioners. We don’t pray and that is why we can’t be saved from the curse that lies dark across the modern clergy. We are cursed of compromise, of imitation, and of professionalism. We can’t be saved from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering, because we do not pray! I may not pastor a mega church, but through prayer and praise I serve a mega God!
It is unlikely that we can spend all our time in our prayer closet. However, we can supernaturally spend time in prayer as we begin to pray without ceasing. Pray before every meeting. Pray before every service. Pray before every meal. Pray before every trip. Pray before every letter that you write. Pray for every member. Pray for every problem. Pray for each sermon that you deliver. Pray before devotion and pray before every book that you intend to write. We as preachers’ must pray for God’s power to preach, our preparations and for the people. Really powerful preaching comes from a powerful prayer and praise life before God.
The Preacher’ Praise
And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. Revelation 19:5 KJ
If we are going to have power in our preaching we had better realize whom the God we serve. We are in the employment of the powerful God who is worthy to be praise. At any time the church gathers together, it should be a time for praise and worship. The most wonderful places to preach are after praise and worship has taken place. Praise and worship is the best time for God to prepare the hearts of the people to hear the Word of God. The Word of God says that He inhabits the praise of His people in Psalm 22:3. When we are preaching to people that God inhabits, preaching becomes more powerful!
Many times our preaching doesn’t have any power, because we are preaching from a place without praise. Neither we, nor our church are properly praising the Lord. Get the praise right and powerful preaching will follow! Many times in the church, the preacher is busy at work or so busy being praised himself that we forget to praise God. The preacher must remember that his church is really his church home. His church is where he goes to worship and praise God. If he does not worship at work than he doesn’t worship at all! This is what Howard W. King had to say in an article entitled, “When The Preachers Loses God.”
“… The preacher’s self-importance seems justified by his busyness. Why is he so popular? Why are his services sought by so many? Why is so much praise lavished upon him? The inference is that he is a very important person. But the preacher’s seeming greatness may dim his vision of God and dull his sensitiveness to God’s presence. As Stewart affirmed, “Nowhere surely are pride and self-importance more incongruous and unpardonable than in the servant of the cross. ”
Sundays and any other days the church gather together is not just about the sermons we preach and the bible studies we teach. Our primary task is to worship and praise God. We put power in our preaching by praising the God we serve. We praise Him in the service before we preach. Many times the pastor is too busy at worship time. Pastors are busy leading the service during worship service. If you can, get someone else to lead the worship time. Some pastors are in their study preparing to preach during the worship time. If you have not gotten a message by the Sunday at the 11:00 AM service, it is to late! Leave your study and go praise God. You will be able to find your message during the worship service. You can always preach a message about what a mighty God we serve!
I generally like to exert physical power during the Sunday service. The first exertion comes when I am praising God through song. The second exertion happens when I preach. Preachers put power in your preaching by praising God first!
Preachers, put power in your preaching by being called and depending daily on the Holy Spirit’s power. Preachers, put power in your preaching by praying without ceasing. Preachers, put powers in your preaching by praising the God you serve.