“ABOVE AND BEYOND” PREACHING!
“ Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us” Ephesians 3.20 HCSB.
Not long ago I had a major ministry crisis which caused me considerable grief. It was a “preaching” crisis. After honestly evaluating my preaching/teaching over several weeks, I came to the painful conclusion that I was a “mediocre” preacher! I cried out, “NO, LORD! I CAN’T HANDLE IT! HELP ME!”
No one told me that my preaching was “mediocre” but it was my own self-assessment. And I didn’t like it! Preaching and teaching the Word is why you and I are in ministry and in WMF. It is what we do and I have always wanted to be an effective preacher. Peter said of those called to preach to “speak as the oracles of God” 1 Pet. 4.11 NKJV. NIV says, “the very words of God.” Since God is “able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think,” I knew there was a wonderful opportunity for the Lord to fulfill that promise because that’s exactly what I wanted and was asking for. And our wonderful Heavenly Father came through! Let me pass on to you what He gave me.
First, the Lord reminded me that preaching and teaching is God’s business – a ministry of the Holy Spirit in our spirits and not primarily an intellectual exercise. It is an activity “above and beyond” our human ability. It is not entertainment, storytelling or giving a motivational speech though we all like entertaining and inspiring speakers and we do use stories. But preaching is different. It is proclaiming or teaching the Word of God by the Spirit of God who lives in our spirits. Paul said, “God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son” Rom. 1.9 NIV. He also said, “my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” 1 Cor. 2.4. I saw that I was relying too much on my wisdom (my head) rather than the Word and Spirit in my heart.
I believe in preparing notes and doing good study and research and I know we all prepare and present differently. But we don’t preach notes - we preach the Word of God. I found myself overly focused on the notes and less on the Word which hindered me from getting in the “flow” of the Spirit as I preached.
Next, the Holy Spirit impressed me to PRAY and PRAY and PRAY! The religious leaders recognized that the apostles had “been with Jesus” Acts 4.13. If we want to be effective in preaching then we have to “be with Jesus” too. How? By spending a lot of time in prayer! For those in full-time ministry I personally believe our prayer time should be hours each day. (“Hours” is plural so that means at least two!) If you work full time in addition to ministry you may not be able to but I know that since I have increased my prayer time, the anointing has increased. I am not placing a burden on you to pray a certain length of time because that’s between you and God. And it is not about keeping a record or score but quantity is vital. You may get tired, have other things to do or want to quit but hang in there for a while! I challenge you to try praying an hour, two or even three a day. In fact just this morning I was praying and felt tired, sleepy and had other things to do (like write this article!). But after about 45 minutes I stepped over into a different realm and began to pray with a greater boldness and confidence. You know what I’m talking about. It was nice!
Then, I was to “Consume the Word!” Paul said, “Preach the Word” 2 Tim. 4.2, but we can’t preach it if it doesn’t live inside us. Job said, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23.12). The more of the Word that is hidden and treasured in our hearts, the more Word will come out of our mouths. The Word has to be a priority if we are to preach and teach it. I recognized that my time in the Word was not adequate and I had to make a change.
Finally, the Lord impressed me that He would help me but I was to give Him all the glory and all the honor. We all appreciate compliments but I want to be careful to give credit where credit is due. I know we have our part to play in preaching but again, we speak “the very words of God.” They are His Words, not ours. His Word does the work. If we are commended for a good Word preached, praise God for it!
I hope my little crisis has helped you. I am seeing changes in my preaching and I’m thankful for them. One is that I am less anxious in the pulpit because I am learning to depend more on God and less on self. Also, I have a greater assurance that I am feeding the people good food. Jesus said to Peter (and to us), “Feed My sheep” John 21.17. The sheep are hungry! It’s a mean world out there and our sheep need good nourishment to stand strong.
I admit that I am still not where I want to be or where I am going to be but praise God I’m not where I was! So, fellow preachers, let’s study, pray, lean on the Spirit, preach the Word and give Him all the glory. Then our preaching will truly be “above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us!”