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Effective Teaching Begins on Your Knees (Part 2)
Prayer, the Indispensable Ingredient
Last month, we discussed the problem of teachers falling into the rut of preparation and finished by saying, “How do we climb out of a rut? It begins on our knees.” I would like to continue this month on the same theme as we speak of “Prayer, The Indispensable Ingredient.”
I recently heard the story of a father who bought his 16 year old son a nice, “pre-owned” car. The son was very excited and couldn’t wait to show his friends. The father informed him there was one small problem; the car did not have an engine. He proceeded to explain that he and his son would rebuild an engine together as a father/son project. The son later said he learned a great deal about cars that summer and that the stuff about a car that matters the most is not apparent at first glance. The car looked great with all the shiny accessories and frills that were on the surface, but these things are no substitute for the power required to move the car. Without prayer our lessons/sermons may look good on paper and sound good in the class, but you can rest assure that they will never leave the parking lot without being empowered by prayer.
Martin Luther, the great reformer, was a man of prayer. Listen to what he had to say on the subject of study and prayer, “To pray well is half the study,” and “prayer is not a matter that is to be left to our choice, but if we are to do anything that will be eternally profitable we should and must pray.”
The goal of teaching and preaching is supernatural. Our human efforts cannot attain the goal of spiritually transforming lives through teaching and preaching without divine involvement. Diligent study, crafted outlines or persuasive presentations will not ensure that true biblical fruit will result. The message, the messenger and the audience must all be impacted by the Spirit of God.
Jesus shared with us a parable that illustrates this vividly. In the parable of the sower and the seed Jesus describes the potent seed which was cast. We know the seed is the Word of God. As the story unfolds it becomes obvious that teaching and preaching requires more than human proclamation. Jesus lays out for us the spiritual battle that rages when the lesson or sermon enters the heart, or soil, of the hearer. Jesus said, “And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.” (Mark 4:15)
As we battle in the study as we prepare to minister, remember that another battle will be waged in the pew, and still another battle in the hours and days that follow. Satan begins to work “immediately” to destroy the influence of God’s Word. Unless God fights our spiritual battles that rage whenever we purpose to share His Word our efforts will surely fail. God must be thoroughly involved.
The adversary isn’t bothered when someone is impressed with your ability to share the Word as long as no one’s life is changed. He doesn’t mind when people show interest in what you have to say or have good intentions as long as no one’s life is changed. Changing lives for the glory of God is your goal, and it’s a goal that is beyond your reach. God must do it and prayer is the way He says it will get done.
Martin Luther understood this when he
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