Sermon Outline :: Sermons on Target (Part 2)
by E. M. Bounds
Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much--death to self, crucifixion to the world, the travail of his own soul. Crucified preaching only can give life. Crucified preaching can come only from a crucified man.
Preaching which kills is prayerless and no spiritual preaching. Without prayer the preacher creates death, and not life. The preacher who is feeble in prayer is feeble in life-giving forces.
The power of preaching lies in the Divine anointing. The preacher must be able to say, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel."
The failure is in the preacher. God has not made him. He has never been in the hands of God like clay in the hands of the potter. He has been busy about the sermon, its thought and finish, its drawing and impressive forces; but the deep things of God have never been sought, studied, fathomed, experienced by him.
His ministry may draw people to him, to the church, to the form and ceremony; but no true drawings to God, no sweet, holy, divine communion induced. He is no longer God's man, but a man of affairs, of the people. If he can move the people, create an interest, a sensation in favor of religion, an interest in church work--he is satisfied. The church becomes a graveyard, not an embattled army. Praise and prayer are stifled; worship is dead. The preacher and the preaching have helped sin, not holiness; peopled hell, not heaven.
The preacher who has retired prayer as a conspicuous and largely prevailing element in his own character has shorn his preaching of its distinctive life-giving power.
The character of our praying will determine the character of our preaching. Light praying will make light preaching. Prayer makes preaching strong, gives it unction, and makes it stick. In every ministry weighty for good, prayer has always been a serious business.
Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still. He will never talk well and with real success to men for God who has not learned will how to talk to God for men. More than this, prayerless words in the pulpit and out of it are deadening words. The preachers who are the mightiest in their closets with God are the mightiest in their pulpits with men.
Prayer is humbling work. It abases intellect and pride, crucifies vainglory, and signs our spiritual bankruptcy, and all these are hard for flesh and blood to bear. It is easier not to pray than to bear them. So we come to one of the crying evil of these times, maybe of all times--little or no praying. Of these two evils, perhaps little praying is worse than no praying. Little praying is kind of make-believe, a salvo for the conscience, a farce and a delusion.