by E. M. Bounds
“Not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;” (Ephesians 6:6)
Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.
What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use–men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. the Holy Ghost 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.
Preaching is not the performance of an hour. It is the outflow of a life. It takes 20 years to make a sermon, because it takes 20 years to make the man. The true sermon is the thing of life. The sermon grows because the man grows. The sermon is forceful because the man is forceful. The sermon is holy because the man is holy. The sermon is full of Divine unction because the man is full of Divine unction. Without unction or heart, they fall like a killing frost on all the graces of worship.
Dead men give out dead sermons, and dead sermons kill. Everything depends on the spiritual character of the preacher.
The preacher’s sharpest and strongest preaching should be to himself. His most difficult, delicate, laborious, and thorough work must be with himself. The training of the twelve was the great, difficult, and enduring work of Christ. Preachers are not sermon makers, but men makers and saint makers, and he only is well-trained for this business who has made himself a man and a saint. It is not great talents nor great learning nor great preachers that God needs, but men great in holiness, great in faith, great in love, great in fidelity, great for God–men always preaching by holy sermons in the pulpit, by holy lives out of it. These can mold a generation for God.
After this order, the early Christians were formed. Men they were of solid mold, preachers after the heavenly type–heroic, stalwart, soldierly, saintly. Preaching with them meant self-denying, self-crucifying, serious, toilsome, martyr business. They applied themselves to it in a way that told on their generation, and formed in its womb a generation yet unborn for God. The preaching man is to be the praying man. Prayer is the preacher’s mightiest weapon. An almighty force in itself, it gives life and force to all.
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.
The pulpit of this day is weak in praying. The pride of learning is against the dependent humility of prayer. Prayer is with the pulpit too often only official–a performance for the routine of service. Prayer is not to the modern pulpit the mighty force it was in Paul’s life or Paul’s ministry. Every preacher who does not make prayer a mighty factor in his own life and ministry is weak as a factor in God’s work and is powerless to project God’s cause in this world.
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.