I’ve learned several years ago the value of praying before I preach. Here is the issue many preachers face. They spend weeks preparing a message they have received from the LORD in a deep devotional study. They struggle through the text and try to wrap their minds around the complex ideas. They wrestle and weep over the ramifications. Then they have 40 minutes to express it all to a drowsy crowd on the height of their weekend.
This reminds me of the prayer of Elisha in 2 Kings 6. When the Syrians came to capture Elisha, they were well prepared, so they thought. When Elisha’s servant woke up and walked to the window he saw an army of Syrians there to apprehend one man. This struck fear in his heart, but Elisha told the boy not to worry because he could see something the young lad couldn’t.
“Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:16-17 esv
When I pray before I preach, I always pray that God will open the minds, hearts, and ears of the listeners, but more importantly than that, I ask God to open their eyes. Of course I want the listener to comprehend what I’ve struggled so hard in studying, I want them to set aside their distractions and pay attention, and their hearts have to be receptive to the work of the Holy Spirit, but more than that, I want them to see the hand of God working in their lives.
As I sit here and think about why we are losing the youth in our churches I wonder if one of the most prominent reasons is because they can’t imagine the power of God, they can’t envision the the work of Christ, and they can’t see the Spirit’s involvement in their daily activities.
Paul makes this same prayer in his letter to the church in Ephesus.
“For this reason… I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…” Ephesians 1:15-18
I want to encourage you to implore the Spirit of God to make the Work of God visible to the Body of Christ. Don’t sell your sermons or Sunday school lessons short by neglecting the much needed work of the whole Trinity.
Father, You are good and Your mercy endures forever. LORD You are great and Your mercy is new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. Allow us to see Your hand as it impacts our day. Help us to understand the circumstances that You bring us through. Bless us with the evidence of Your presence in our lives and let us be a blessing to those who can’t see. Would you open their eyes as well? Amen.