I was praying prior to speaking in a service, and the Lord revealed to me the importance of prayer when it comes to preaching. The Lord said to me, “Preaching without prayer is just performance.” He went on to say, “An actor learns a script and goes on stage and recites it. You can be trained to do that or learn it yourself.” He told me, “Don’t build your ministry on anything but prayer!”
There is pressure on ministers today to grow churches, be relevant, and bring things in from the world to help their church grow. This is partially because of technology. Today, ministers are expected to have visual aids, graphics, videos, slideshows, and all sorts of props to accompany their messages. I’m not against being relevant or having visual aids. I am against those things taking the place of prayer, the Word of God, and the Holy Ghost.
The Lord said to me, “Many ministers are so busy getting together all the visual material that they have no time left to pray. They get so caught up in the mental realm that the message they present appeals highly to the mind, will, and emotions of the hearer. It does nothing or very little to change the spirit of the listener. The listener leaves the service all propped up mentally and emotionally but fails to have the spiritual ability to live a Christian life.” Jesus said, “For without me you can do nothing.”
This may shock you, but there are thousands, if not millions, of ministers that get up on a weekly basis and simply give a book report, not a Bible sermon. Anyone can give a book report on the Bible. A heathen can do that! There is no anointing, from the Lord on the sermon, and it produces no lasting change in a person’s life. Those messages deal with the mind, will, emotions, or soul of a person. Social interaction, with one another, has become much more important than spiritual interaction with the Lord. Humanism has replaced the Holy Ghost in many churches. Pleasing people is more important.
We’re told in the Bible that we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). That is the key truth to living the Christian life. Dad Hagin used to say that anything you use in the natural world to help prop you up will hinder you spiritually. Many people can’t accept that, but it’s true. He taught that the believer is to live from within – by the Holy Spirit. He taught us, from the scriptures, that we are to be led by the Holy Spirit, not by the natural world around us. He said using an alarm clock to wake you in the morning would hinder your faith. He said, “I always tell the Holy Spirit what time I want to wake up,” and he always woke up at that time.
Of course, some considered Dad Hagin to have been washed up and out of touch with reality. Jesus never did! He appeared to him more times than anyone else I know of on planet earth. Kenneth E. Hagin told me personally that there were many things that he knew that he could not share with the church because they were not ready for them.
There’s nothing wrong with being relevant and having good, powerful illustrations. But don’t spend so much time getting that together that you have no time to pray and seek the Lord. In fact, I believe you should never prepare a message before asking the Lord what He wants to say and how He wants you to say it.
That is the job of a preacher. First and foremost, your job is to know the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. I know some think it is running the church or your ministry, but it is not. If you don’t know the Holy Ghost, you are a failure. I don’t care how many people you have. Quit following all the church growth gurus and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows so much more than they do, and He will teach you true church growth. Messages born in prayer change people’s lives in their spirit. Messages that come from your head go to the people’s heads and are ineffective and impart carnality to the people.
I personally go before the Lord in prayer and wait in His presence until He tells me what to say. I will pray and meditate on the Word of God and fast some during this time. Many times I don’t hear anything and just keep on worshipping Him. The closer it gets to the service time, the more concerned my flesh seems to get if I haven’t heard anything. I have learned over the years to just keep on waiting and crucify the flesh. The flesh and mind don’t like that. Many times I get the message while I am praying to begin my message! There’s no time to get props, illustrations, or anything! My preaching is always filled with power and results when I yield to the Lord. If you have no prayer life, there will be no power in your life to help you or others. I always ask the Lord for revelation and illustration of His Word so that I can communicate it clearly to others. He never fails me, nor will He fail you, if you will ask Him.
Quit following those who tell you that reverence and respect for God is old-fashioned and unnecessary. They are wrong and don’t know the Holy Ghost. Do what Jesus said to Dad Hagin in 1988. What Jesus emphasized the most during His three-hour visitation with him was “Be filled with the Spirit.” Pray in the Holy Ghost until you become filled with His Spirit. Speak in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Live your life from that position, and His Glory is yours!