“The words you speak will not be yours: they will come from the Holy Spirit”.
Mk 13:11 GNB
A member of his congregation once got into conversation with Rev Dr Leslie Weatherhead, minister in the nineteen-fifties of the City Temple Church in London. His congregation numbered fifteen hundred at each service and he preached morning and evening, which required him to give two different sermons each Sunday. The member asked, “Tell me, Doctor Weatherhead, how long does it take you in preparing each sermon?” Weatherhead thought for a moment and then replied, “I would say about forty hours”.
All ministers ask for God the Holy Spirit to guide them in what to say. In many churches the attending steward prays for the Holy Spirit to empower the minister before going into the service. As a worshipper pray for your minister or preacher every time to be uplifted and guided by the Spirit. He, or she, may take forty hours – they still need “the plus of the Spirit”. Jesus was not referring here to preaching, but his words apply to preaching every bit as they do to court appearances.
There is a strange inter-connection between the Holy Spirit and the Bible. They have a habit of working “in tandem”. In preparing the preacher begins with the Bible, compares different or similar places where the subject is mentioned and calls on the Spirit to direct him to the thinking that is going to impact the message. The preacher probably has cross-references in other books to the subject in hand, and even indexes to sermon illustrations that are relevant. All this is placed at the disposal of the Holy Spirit who provides the “cement” to hold it all together – whether it takes one hour or forty!
Lord, empower your preachers with your Spirit.