Sermon Illustrations

Are you familiar with the brush-suede shoe called Hush Puppies? It was popular when I was a kid. The brand was all but dead until late 1994. Sales were down to 30,000 pairs a year, mostly sold in backwoods outlets and small-town family stores. Wolverine, the company that makes Hush Puppies, was thinking of phasing out the shoes that made them famous. But then something strange happened.

Two Hush Puppies executives, at a fashion shoot, ran into a stylist from New York who told them the classic Hush Puppies had suddenly become stylish in the hip clubs and bars of downtown Manhattan. They were selling out in resale shops. People were going to the Ma and Pa stores and buying them up.

In the fall of 1995 things began to happen in a hurry. One fashion designer used the shoe in his spring collection. Another designer used the shoes in her show. A third designer in Los Angeles put a twenty-five-foot inflatable basset hound on the roof of his Hollywood store, gutted a gallery next door, and turned it into a Hush Puppies boutique.

In 1995, the company sold 430,000 pairs of the classic Hush Puppies; the next year they sold four times that, and the year after that still more, until Hush Puppies were once again the main shoe of the young American male. How do you explain this kind of explosive growth? It has been called “the tipping point.”

The tipping point is when an idea or social behavior crosses a threshold, and begins to spread like wildfire. It is when a small, but targeted, effort can cause an explosion, or decline, in an idea or behavior. Spiritually, prayer is that small, but targeted, effort that can cause an explosion in spiritual growth, or a dramatic decline in sinful behavior.

I cannot overestimate the importance of prayer in spiritual growth. Prayer is the difference between Christianity being a form or a force in your life or your church and your community. As you read your Bible, you will notice that every great servant of God was a person of prayer.

It makes sense that prayer would be this significant in the Christian life. The Christian life is a life of dependence on God. Spiritual growth is a work of God. Spiritual growth is not “Operation Bootstrap.” Spiritual growth is not a matter of believing Jesus and doing the best we can. At this church, we give new members a Bible study called “Survival Kit,” not a “do-it-yourself” kit. To become like Christ, which is the main goal of every Christian, requires constant fellowship and dependence upon God. Prayer is your connection with God, and an expression of your dependence on God.

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