Pray For Unction In The Pulpit
By Leonard Ravenhill (1907 – 1994)
It requires neither top bracket intelligence nor yet super-spirituality to curse the darkness. It does require God-fashioned, God-filled and God-fired men to bring revival! We need some lion-hearted, wise-as-a-serpent prophets, Spirit-unctionized, Spirit-actioned, Spirit-directed and Spirit-operated men for the dying moments of this dispensation.
The church is living on borrowed capital. She has to get out the family album to show us Wesley and Huss, covenanters and confessors to help us whistle to keep up our courage. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
There IS a way out of the impasse we are in, only one, a well-tried one, a never failing one; it is the way of prayer!
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. But in these days – or should it be daze? – efficiency and smartness are at a premium. Prayer pertains to one thing alone, and that is to 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 book shelves, self-confidence and a sense of having arrived, brother, the pulpit is yours almost anywhere now.
Preaching, of this type, affects men. Prayer affects God. Preaching affects time, prayer affects eternity. The pulpit can be a shop window to display our talents. The prayer closet speaks death to display.
The tragedy of this later hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people.
In All Thy Getting – Get Unction!
There is a strange thing I have observed even in fundamental circles. It is preaching without unction. Preaching without unction kills instead of giving life. The word does not burn unless unction is upon the preacher.
Preaching is a spiritual business. A sermon born in the head reaches the head. A sermon born in the heart reaches the heart. A spiritual preacher will under God produce spiritually-minded people. Unction is not a gentle dove beating her wings outside the bars of the preacher’s soul; rather, divine unction must be pursued and won.
Unction Is God’s Knighthood for His Soldier-Preacher
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. The meeting is won or lost before the preacher’s foot enters the pulpit.
Unction comes not by a bishop’s ordination, neither does it mildew when the preacher is cast into prison. Unction will pierce and percolate, it will sweeten and soften. When the hammer of logic and the fire of human zeal fail to open the stony heart, unction will succeed.
Without unctionized preachers church altars will never see anxious penitents. Supposing that we saw fishing boats with the latest in radar equipment and fishing gear launched month after month and then put out to sea only to return without a catch, what excuse would we take for this barrenness?
Yet thousands of churches see empty altars week after week and year after year and cover this sterile situation by misapplying the Scripture – “My Word...shall not return unto Me void” (Isa. 55:11).
The ugly fact is that the altar fires are either out, or burning very low. The prayer meeting is dead or dying. By our attitude to prayer we tell God that what was begun in the Spirit we can finish in the flesh. What church ever asks its candidating ministers what time they spend in prayer? Ministers who do not spend significant time each day in prayer are not worth a dime a dozen, degrees or no degrees.
Who now “earnestly contends for the faith once delivered to the saints”? (Jude v. 3). Where is there unction in the pulpit? Preachers who should be fishing for men are now too often fishing for compliments from men. Preachers used to sow seed. Now they string intellectual pearls. Imagine a field sown with pearls!
Born in a Tomb Instead of a Womb
Away with this palsied, puerile, powerless preaching which is unmoving because it was born in a tomb instead of a womb, and nourished in a fireless, prayerless soul. We may preach and perish, but we cannot pray and perish. If God called us to the ministry, dear brethren, then I contend that we should be unctionized. With all thy getting, get unction, lest barren altars be the badge of our unctionless intellectualism.
The old masters of the pulpit got their texts on their knees, soaked them with their tears, groaned over them with a travailing spirit, warmed them with strivings in prayer – then delivered the message as a living thing, warm from God’s heart, burning in the preacher’s heart to make warm the heart of the listeners. There is no substitute for prayer. We cannot tell this highbrow generation with science-soaked intellects what our God can do. We must demonstrate the Gospel!
A praying church is a womb; a prayerless church is a tomb. A prayerless pastor is a successful failure. Revival is God’s will. The church’s greatest need and the world’s only hope, apart from the return of our Lord is revival.
Revival can neither be taught nor bought. The Bible reveals the method. The church supplies the men. Holy Ghost intercession supplies the channel through which it comes. The delay in revival is not from God’s side. “He is able,” but we are deficient, the Spirit is limited in us – “according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20). Unless the power is in, it cannot work out. “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (Acts 19:2).