I'm being really challenged at the moment about the importance of prayer. Just this morning, I was reminded from Ephesians 2 that by nature we are dead and objects of wrath. What hope therefore can there be for us to act in our own strength? What hope can there be that people will respond to preaching or to evangelism unless the Holy Spirit of God moves them. And if he moves us, how can we resist?
It is frequently a disappointment to me that so few books on preaching speak much about prayer. A great exception, of course is Spurgeon's Lectures to my Students.
If you can dip your pens into your hearts, appealing in earnestness to the Lord, you will write well ; and if you can gather your matter on your knees at the gate of heaven, you will not fail to speak well. Prayer, as a mental exercise, will bring many subjects before the mind, and so help in the selection of a topic, while as a high spiritual engage ment it will cleanse your inner eye that you may see truth in the light of God. Texts will often refuse to reveal their treasures till you open them with the key of prayer.
The minister who does not earnestly pray over his work must surely be a vain and conceited man. He acts as if he thought him self sufficient of himself, and therefore needed not to appeal to God. Yet what a baseless pride to conceive that our preaching can ever be in itself so powerful that it can turn men from their sins, and bring them to God without the working of the Holy Ghost. If we are truly humble-minded we shall not venture down to the fight until the Lord of Hosts has clothed us with all power, and said to us, " Go in this thy might." The preacher who neglects to pray much must be very careless about his ministry. He cannot have comprehended his calling. He cannot have computed the value of a soul, or estimated the meaning of eternity.
How much of blessing we may have missed through remissness in supplication we can scarcely guess, and none of us can know how poor we are in comparison with what we might have been if we had lived habitually nearer to God in prayer.
C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, chapter 3