The Need for Praying Preachers

One day, as an artist was down on his knees pounding with chisel and mallet at the base of his sculpture, a preacher approached and said, “I wish I could deal such changing blows to the hearts of men.” The sculptor looked up at him, and with a steadfast gaze replied, “Maybe you could if you work like me…down on your knees.”

Now there is a lot of truth to that, because prayer can do what preaching cannot. Among preachers there is a growing belief in the truth of God’s sovereignty. However, in the affirmation of the absolute sovereignty of God, there must not be a decreasing sense of responsibility concerning prayer. The sovereignty of God does not negate human responsibility.

Jesus began His ministry with a forty-day fast and continued to spend quality time praying to His Father. This gave Him the anointing to “preach the gospel to the poor…to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4:18). Our Lord was fully aware that without prayer and spiritual strength, the most eloquent and homiletically arranged sermons would be an effort in futility. “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” Scripture tells us that, even unto this day, our Lord Jesus is making continuous intercession on our behalf. (Heb. 7:25).

It has been said that reading the Bible is like eating. Well, prayer is like breathing. From the moment a baby is born, it must breathe in order to live. One can survive a lengthy period of time without eating, but without breathing one cannot live. A lack of prayer brings spiritual death.

Prayer shows total dependence on God and less confidence in ourselves. Every minister must spend adequate time in prayer before feeding God’s people with the nourishment of God’s word. In Acts 6:4, we see that leaders should give themselves “continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

Prayer is communing with God – it’s just simple conversation. It is not a lot of ‘thees’ and ‘thous’, and all kinds of fancy words. It is not a vocabulary contest to see who can use the most theological terms. It’s a simple conversation with the Lord. Sometimes it’s good to say, “Father, it’s such a lovely day today, and I just want to thank you for it.”

When we read the Bible, God talks to us; when we pray, we talk to Him. Paul tells us to pray “always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints…” (Eph. 6:18). Again in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, he said, “pray without ceasing.”

We may wonder how is it possible to pray always, when our concept of praying is closing our eyes and kneeling with our hands put together. To pray always, or to pray without ceasing, simply means that we must be in an attitude of God- consciousness at all times. In spite of the posture of the body, one’s soul should always be on its knees in prayers. We should see everything in relation to God and converse with Him about it. Jesus said in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation…” A minister will be ineffective without an anointing and the anointing only comes through much fasting and prayer. Prayer really works.

James 5:14 tells, “Is there any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church…” But if this is the only time an elder is dedicated to prayer, his prayer will undoubtedly be without anointing. Such efforts will only break one’s pride and not the yoke, because a prayerless preacher is a powerless preacher.

Today there is more focus placed on the horizontal relationship with man, rather than the vertical relationship with God. As preachers, we should be less concerned about our success, security, and public impression, and place more emphasis on our vertical relationship with God. Prayers are made, but often with the wrong intent (Isaiah 58:1-7; Luke 20:46-47; Matthew 6:16-18). In Acts 16:16, Paul and Silas, on their way to prayer, were able to deliver a young girl possessed with a spirit of divination. They did not request special time to fast and pray. They already had that vertical relationship established. No one can succeed in the ministry if prayer is absent. Daniel prayed three times a day while living in a dispensation that was less evil than ours. (Daniel 6:10).

In Mark 9:17-29, the disciples were unable to cast out an evil spirit because of a lack of fasting and prayer. However, in verse 38 a stranger had more success because he fasted and prayed. In Acts 12, Peter was held in prison awaiting a possible execution. His deliverance was the result of the church praying without ceasing for him. (Verses 5 & 12). Every situation should give us an opportunity to talk to God.

Isn’t it amazing that our Lord and the Early Church apostles seemed to have spent more time praying than they did preaching? The phenomenal results of Peter’s short message at Pentecost should be credited to the ten days of prayer that preceded it.

As we conclude this brief article on the importance of prayer in our lives as preachers, may the Lord assist us to do an analysis of our prayer life. Are we praying as we should? Do we preach with the anointing needed to destroy the yoke?

May God touch our hearts and give us a strong spirit of prayer and intercession.