The preparation of the preacher includes developing and maintaining certain spiritual disciplines in his life.
First, he must pray. Prayer, the lifeline that exists between the preacher and God, enables the preacher to have a prophetic word. In the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, prayer was a vital part of the spiritual life of great men of God. Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, Peter, and even Jesus made prayer the focus of their life. If these men recognized the importance of prayer, the modern preacher must also come to that recognition.
James Stewart codified the reason the preacher must be a man of prayer: “The basic reason why a minister must pray is not because he is a minister (that would savor of official piety, always an odious thing), but because he is a poor, needy creature dependent on God’s grace.”
Second, the preacher must pursue personal holiness in his life. The only way to overcome the scandals of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart is for preachers to practice what they preach. No other characteristic of the preacher’s life, nor any amount of pulpit skill, can overshadow the importance of personal morality.
Paul Powell emphasized this truth: “Cleanliness is a prerequisite for usefulness to God and service in his kingdom. It is not important that we be silver-tongued orators or golden-throated singers. What really matters most in God’s service? That our lives be clean.”
Third, the man who would proclaim the Scriptures must yield to the control of the Holy Spirit. Preaching is a spiritual work. The message preached comes from a spiritual book. The preacher must recognize that he performs a spiritual ministry. Success in spiritual ministry demands that the Holy Spirit be in control.
Oswald Smith referred to the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the preacher as the “anointing”:
Anointed men are not satisfied with education and training. They know that something more is needed and that God cannot use them until they have experienced the anointing. So they wait in the presence of God until they have been endued with power from on high. Then they go out and accomplish more in a few weeks or months in the demonstration and power of the Spirit than they could have accomplished in the energy of the flesh in years.
Fourth, the preacher must be a man of the Bible. His love for the Bible should be obvious to those who hear him. He must be thoroughly convinced that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. This conviction should overwhelm his entire life. While the preacher may have doubts about certain denominational struggles, or even about some theological interpretations, he must never harbor doubts about the truthfulness of the Bible. The man who possesses such doubts about Scripture should have enough integrity to step out of the pulpit until those doubts are resolved. The pulpit should never be used to raise questions concerning the veracity of Holy Scripture.
The Bible provides the foundation of preaching. The foundation and authority of preaching rests in the truthfulness of the Bible. John MacArthur affirmed this truth from a negative point of view: “The loss of its biblical foundation is the primary reason for the decline of preaching in the contemporary church. And the decline of preaching is a major factor contributing to the church’s weakness and worldliness.
If the church is to regain its spiritual health, preaching must return to its proper biblical foundation.”
Excerpt: Robert C. Pitman
Image Credit: lifelinescreening.com