Voices From The Past: The Tragedy Of Lifeless Preaching

March 31, 2017 — Leave a comment

The Cinderella of the church of today is the prayer meeting. This handmaid of the Lord is unloved and unwooed because she is not dripping with the pearls of intellectualism, nor glamorous with the silks of philosophy; neither is she enchanting with the tiara of psychology. She wears the homespuns of sincerity and humility and so is not afraid to kneel!

The offense of prayer is that it does not essentially tie in to mental efficiency. (That is not to say that prayer is a partner to mental sloth; in these days efficiency is at a premium). Prayer is conditioned by one thing alone and that is spirituality.

One does not need to be spiritual to preach, that is, to make and deliver sermons of homiletical perfection and exegetical exactitude. By a combination of memory, knowledge, ambition, personality, plus well-lined bookshelves, self-confidence, and a sense of having arrived—brother, the pulpit is yours almost anywhere these days. Preaching of the type mentioned affects men; prayer affects God. Preaching affects time; prayer affects eternity. The pulpit can be a shopwindow to display our talents; the closet speaks death to display.

The tragedy of this late hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people. Oh! the horror of it. There is a strange thing that I have seen ‘‘under the sun”; it is preaching without unction. What is unction? I hardly know. But I “know what it is not (or at least I know when it is not upon my own soul). Preaching without unction kills instead of giving life. The unctionless preacher is a savor of death unto death. The Word does not live unless the unction is upon the preacher. Preacher, with all thy getting—get unction.

Brethren, we could well manage to be half as intellectual (of the modern pseudo kind) if we were twice as spiritual. Preaching is a spiritual business. A sermon born in the head reaches the head; a sermon born in the heart reaches the heart. Under God, a spiritual preacher will produce spiritually minded people. Unction is not a gentle dove beating her wings against the bars outside of the preacher’s soul; rather, she must be pursued and won. Unction cannot be learned, only earned—by prayer. Unction is God’s knighthood for the soldier-preacher who has wrestled in prayer and gained the victory. Victory is not won in the pulpit by firing intellectual bullets or wisecracks, but in the prayer closet.


Ravenhill, Leonard. “Why Revival Tarries.” Baker Publishing Group.

Ken Fryer

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I currently serve on the staff of Riverside Baptist Church in Denham Springs, Louisiana and serve on the faculty of Sequitur Classical Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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