What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use- men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men – men of prayer.
The man makes the preacher, God must make the man.
Preaching is not the performance of an hour. It is the outflow of a life.
The constraining power of love must be in the preacher as a projecting, eccentric, and all-commanding, self-oblivfious force. The energy of self-denial must be his being, his heart and blood and bones. He must go forth as a man among men, clothed with humility, abiding in meekness, wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove; the bonds of a servant with the spirit of a king in high, royal independent bearing, with the simplicity and sweetness of a child. The preacher must throw himself, with all the abandon of a perfect self-emptying faith and a self-consuming zeal, into his work for the salvation of men. Hearty, heroic, compassionate, fearless martyrs must the men be who take hold of and shape a generation for God. If they be timid timeservers, place seekers, if they be men-pleasers, or men-fearers, if their faith has a weak hold on God or His Word, if their denial be broken by any phrase of self or the world, they cannot take hold of the church nor the world for God.
The real sermon is made in the closet. The man – God’s man – is made in the closet. His life and his profoundest convictions were born in his secret communion with God. The burdened and tearful agony of his spirit, his weightiest and sweetest messages were got when alone with God. Prayer makes the man; prayer makes the preacher; prayer makes the pastor.
Crucified preaching can only come from a crucified man.
These are excerpts from “Power Through Prayer” by E. M. Bounds. It’s a little book Phillip shared with me to read. And it was utterly convicting. It speaks about the fathers who have gone before us. The men who really changed their world by making a serious impact for the Kingdom were all men of intense, fervent, effectual prayer. They devoted many hours of each day to prayer and study and time alone with God. It was through those many hours in the Presence of God that they were made into the image of His Son, and thus made able to affect the lives of others to such degrees.
It speaks about the danger behind letter-drive preaching. I can become the most learned Bible scholar, but still breath death to others, because all of the time devoted to my knowledge, only served to puff me up. I would be better off to devote two hours to prayer, and thirty minutes to theological studies than I would the assumed reverse. This is just the way that God set things up in this world. He chooses to move His gospel forward through men who are devoted to Him. The devotion is marked by a burning desire to deny oneself and be saturated in the Presence of God every morning.
I’ve got to get a handle on my prayer life. It is something I’ve never been able to consistently set into practice. How will I ever lead my wife in prayer faithfully if I am not first given to it? The noted powerful short prayers of the apostles and Christ in the NT were so very powerful and were recorded in Scripture because of the many hours of long, seemingly ineffectual prayers that came before them. We wonder why our short requests to God seem as if they are never heard. It is because we are wrestling through the night with Him to prove our love and sincerity.
Phillip taught this morning from 2 Sam 6 where David refused to be held back from his intense worship of the Lord. He said that our fire for worship is not burning hot because we don’t fuel it with prayer and Scripture. I know that is the source of the coolness of my heart. I am desiring a more passionate walk with the Lord, but I am not putting in the commitment that will get me there.
Lord set a fire down in my soul, that I can’t contain, that I can’t control. I want more of You.