H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
  • - Endorsed
  • - Indifferent
  • - Contested
I Affirm This
The Nashville Statement
Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
The Buzz

Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
Email Me
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Preaching or prayer?
I was reading a post over at Phil Johnson's blog that directed me to an article that was published in the November 2005 issue of "Banner of Truth." The article was actually a sermon that was delivered before a gathering of ministers in Dublin Ireland in June of 2005. The article was called "The Centrality of Preaching"- and it was a well thought out and passionate exhortation to preaching.

I didn't get too deep into the article however when I noticed what seemed to me a glaring error:

    "The 16th century Reformation, the 17th century Puritanism, and the 18th century Great Awakening were all revivals of preaching!"
No one denies that the Reformation, Puritanism, and the Great Awakening were all revivals wherein the preaching improved. But the reality is that these were all revivals of prayer.

It is a small difference I suppose - and it doesn't take anything away from the punch of the article - yet it is an important distinction.

Don't get me wrong - we need theologically sound preachers in our pulpit - and we need to have the word preached! I will stand and shout it from the roof tops with the best of them. But the Reformation, Puritanism, and the Great Awakening were not movements that began on account of good preaching - if such were the case we could simply read the sermons from these great times and expect the same blessings to pursue us as pursued them.

But that isn't the case. My understanding and great conviction is that preaching is a great tool in a praying man's arsenal - but it is also powerless when the pulpit is prayerless. When I say prayerless I don't mean that the preacher didn't pray and ask God to bless his sermon. I mean he wasn't agonizing daily over those souls who would hear this message - he wasn't trembling as he handled God's message, he is just a paid Christian lecturer who is often deemed worthy not according to how faithful he has been to God - but rather how faithful his exposition is to scripture. Don't get me wrong - faithful exposition is crucial - but lets not miss this point - the church was born in a prayer meeting!

There was nothing especially stirring about Peter's sermon on the rooftop. Why were 3000 Jewish men saved? Think it through. They were saved because the disciples had just spent days on end fasting and praying - no doubt the theme of that prayer time was the pouring out of God's Spirit - and their prayers were answered at Pentecost - and again from the roof top. God determined to pour out his Spirit at Pentecost before the foundation of the world - yet still Christ instructed them to gather and wait praying.

This waiting on God has become something we no longer do. We are the masters of commercial length McPrayer. Why be in agony over night pouring our hearts out when we can bubble up a popcorn prayer that is "just as good." We say "God knows my heart" - as though that were a good thing.

Persevering prayer prepares men to preach! Without that kind of preparation a sermon becomes a lecture - and the lecture is judged more by the charisma of the man who delivered it than anything else. That is why the best entertainers have the biggest churches. It is also why big churches are becoming spiritual vacuums.

So why is our ministry so powerless? Why do we pump and pump at the well and only a trickle comes out? Why are our exegetically perfect and theologically profound sermons met with such stony indifference? Preaching must certainly be "central" as Mr. Lyon states - but unless it is preceded by pesevering prayer it will not -- can not-- produce anything more than a nice big - theologically sound - but otherwise dead church.

Are we so busy preparing sermons that we have forgotten to prepare hearts? Are we so busy trying to patch the broken church that we have forgotten it isn't ours to patch? Find me a powerful preacher from any time in history and I will show you a man of relentless, agonizing prayer. A man who is only known for his preaching on account of his praying. Such men are rare in our time because we have taken the focus off of calling on God - and in our blindness have allowed our focus to rest on programs, methodologies - or even trying to emulate the way it was successfully done in the past.

Anyway - I do tend to rant I suppose. It was a great article - but I think Mr. Lyon's message will fail to roar because it puts the blame on a lack of preaching rather than a lack of prayer. An earnest crying out to God for others - coming to that neighbor and relentlessly beating on that door demanding loaves for those who have come to your house - that is, persevering until God answers - that and that alone produces good preaching.

Having read many revival accounts - I see this pattern, and I am surprized Mr. Lyon missed it - no revival ever began except that someone somewhere began to pray in earnest. The preaching always followed after the prayer.
posted by Daniel @ 12:07 PM  
  • At 3:29 PM, November 10, 2005, Blogger Jeremy Weaver said…

    Good thoughts. If we're not praying while we prepare the sermon, what makes us think God will bless it when we pray our 15 second prayer before we deliver it?

    Another essential for good preaching I think involves utter and total dependence on the Holy Spirit to speak through the sermon.

  • At 6:31 PM, November 10, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Amen Jeremy. If I don't believe God is going to speak - where did I get the sermon from??

  • At 7:09 PM, November 10, 2005, Blogger pilgrim said…

    Both are important, and they work together.
    They work best when one is not denigrated to lift up the other.
    I find this happens way too often.

    We need them both--in balance--a tough call sometimes.

  • At 10:10 PM, November 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Having just watched the video by Jim Cymbala on "My House shall be called a house of prayer", I was again struck with the reality that truly we are wasting our time unless we can connect with the throne room of God.

    While prayer is in a sense illogical to our human mind, it nevertheless is the vehicle God has chosen to use in pouring out His Holy Spirit. Thus, I agree 100% with your comment that any powerful preacher of the word will be a man of intense prayer.

    The issue at hand is balance of course! While I do not believe a man can pray too much, I find that the need to pray can be an excuse for diligent study and meditation in the word. We tell ourselves, once I learn how to pray then I will become a serious student and preparer of my sermons.

    I find in John 4:24 two requirements for true worship; spirit and truth. While the Holy Spirit fills us through prayer, the Word of God must fill us with it's truth through meditation.
    "Thy Word is truth".

    Only a man that has been filled with both truth and Spirit can effectively preach the word with power and boldness.

    My understanding of the need for prayer can be seen in this verse;

    "Let us therefore come boldly, unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Heb. 4:16

    In order to come to the throne, we must humble ourselves. We know that God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud. We must also come with boldness, which signifies a conscience washed by the blood of Christ and the water of the word.

    When we preach in our own strength, pride becomes a stumbling block to the hearer, and restricts the grace of Christ that He wants to enable us with.

    Lord Jesus, teach me to pray.


  • At 9:50 AM, November 11, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    [prayer and preaching] work best when one is not denigrated to lift up the other.

    Certainly this is profoundly true, in the sense that if either is neglected because the other is exalted the resulting preaching isn't going to have much power.

    I think Jim really hit the nail on the head - surely we must pursue a balance - we must spend ample time in both prayer and the study of God's word.

    However, when we begin to talk about the sort of preaching that resulted in the Reformation, Puritanism, and the Great Awakening, we see that it was extra-ordinary prayer that brought these great movements of God down from heaven. Not that this "extraordinary" prayer denigrates or even infringes upon the proper studying the word of God. God forbid we should suggest such a thing! Surely it is self evident - a preacher must study God's word in order to show himself approved, how else will he rightly divide the word of truth?

    So while I agree that one ought not to be neglected in favor of the other - and while I would agree that an equal balance of prayer and study are required in order to deliver a competent and effective sermon - yet I would hold that mere competent preaching has never resulting in revival. It makes for a very healthy church, and genuine growth over time - but not for revivals such as the Reformation, Puritanism, or the Great Awakening.

    My issue with the article was that it suggested that such revivals were the result of great preaching - and I would say such a statement is insufficient. Yes there was great preaching - but the revival did not come because the preaching was particularly accurate - but because God's Spirit fell on people and used those great sermons to convict the people who heard them. That mass conviction didn't come about because the preaching was especially great - it came about because these men who were preaching these sermons labored in prayer for the effect of those sermons. Their labor was (by today's standard) extraordinary - hours each day laboring in prayer - not that their sermons would be effective - but that God's Spirit would convict. These men knocked on God's door tirelessly asking God to rise out of his bed, unlock the door, and give of His loaves in order that these preachers might have something to give their hearers. It was a relentless knocking on God's door that opened that gates of heaven - and not simply "good preaching" or even that preaching was the "central" point of such revivals - this was the point that Mr. Lyon apparently missed in his article.

    Great comments guys.

  • At 12:08 AM, November 12, 2005, Blogger pilgrim said…

    I'm fine with your views--just commenting on the issue as a whole--and the above mentioned Jim Cymbala is a major culprit of denigrating preaching to exalt prayer--then he turns around and offers lip service to preaching.
    He could have said all the things I've read of his to exalt prayer without once saying anything negative about preaching.

  • At 1:17 PM, November 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sadly, there are too many unanointed preachers these days simply peddling the word of God for a profit. Scripture calls them hirelings. Yes, their messages are extremely eloquent and intellectual, but void of any hint of the Holy Spirit and the freshness He brings. Rather than motivating and challenging us to live godly lives in Christ Jesus, they cause a major turnoff to those seeking the reality of God in their lives. They do attract the pseudo-religious, those who get a high discussing "deep" theological subjects without any desire for intimacy with the living Word.

    So, while I am not against preaching in any way, I have been the victim of one too many dry doctrinal monologues. Jesus condemned the Pharisee's for traversing land and sea to make one convert twice the son of hell that they were. What a strong warning to us today.

    On the flipside, time has lost it's meaning under the preaching and teaching of anointed men of God.

    Preaching is like a sailboat, we can have the sails all ready to go; but until the wind of the Holy Spirit fills our sails, we aint't going nowhere.

  • At 3:30 PM, November 12, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Good observation anonymous one!

    I find it quite fitting that as quick as I was to point out Mr. Lyon's oversight - so too a brother pointed out my own. God bless him, he knows who he is. He reminded me that these men who prayed with such agony and determination did not do so, nor could they do so apart from God Himself giving them the desire and drive to do so. Nothing is left to boast about.

    Praise the Lord - amen?

  • At 5:29 PM, November 12, 2005, Blogger Wayne Hatcher said…

    I believe that ernest, fervent prayer will allways drive you to the Word. The Word, apart from the working of the Holy Spirit to convict you, will never drive you to prayer. On the other hand, it is true, you cannot have one without the other.

    The phenomenon we see here is a "pendulum swing" the intentional over-emphasis of one truth to compensate the antecedent over-emphasis of the complimentary truth. What we have to be careful of is not knocking out both sides of the clock. Most everybody here has sad the magic word: "balance".

  • At 9:22 PM, November 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Word reveals unto us Jesus Christ! When Isaiah saw the Lord, he confessed that he was a man of unclean lips. Why, because he had seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

    Only by seeing ourselves in the mirror of God's Holy Word will we ever realize our need for Christ and see our uncleanness. That is why it can be such a struggle to get into the scriptures. It points a finger directly at our vile sinful nature and declares us "guilty".

    The dark ages are a great example of this; the scriptures had been locked up for nearly a thousand years to the general public, but once Tyndale and others began to print the Bible in the native language of the common English and German citizens, a "Revival of truly great proportions occurred".

    Why, because people began to read for themselves the oracles of God. Indeed, His Word is living, and will not return to Him void. History itself attests to the effect of this unleashing of righteousness in the very culture and fabric of society. Talk about the church influencing the world.

    Here's an experiment; try praying without using any scripture (even alluding to) in your prayer. Hard isn't it? It's nearly impossible to have any prayer in duration without incorporating the scriptures that we have hidden in our hearts.

    So in it's simplest form, prayer is merely returning in communion with our precious Saviour His written Word as His Holy Spirit directs.

    Praise the Lord He is no respecter of persons, even the simplest babe in Christ can be a powerful witness for Christ!

    And yes Amen Daniel...

    Jim :)

Post a Comment
<< Home
Previous Posts
Atom Feed
Atom Feed
Creative Commons License
Text posted on this site
is licensed under a
Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5