Today’s Classic is by E. M. Bounds from WEAPON OF PRAYER, and the chapter titled, “The Preacher’s Cry – Pray For Us”.
Those of us who stand in the pulpits of our churches each Sunday morning and evening will know the power E. M. Bounds addresses in this chapter. The excerpt is the concluding third or so of the chapter.
The Preacher’s Cry – Pray For Us
We have a striking picture of the preacher’s need of prayer, and of what a people’s prayers can do for him in Exodus 17. Israel and Amalek were in battle, and the contest was severe and close. Moses stood on top of the hill with his rod lifted up in his hands, the symbol of power and victory. As long as Moses held up the rod, Israel prevailed, but when he let down his hand with the rod, Amalek prevailed. While the contest was in the balance, Aaron and Hur came to the rescue, and when Moses’ hands were heavy, these two men “stayed up his hands, . . . until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people.”
By common consent, this incident in the history of ancient Israel has been recognized as a striking illustration of how a people may sustain their preacher by prayer, and of how victory comes when the people pray for their preacher.
Some of the Lord’s very best men in Old Testament times had to be encouraged against fear by Almighty God. Moses himself was not free from the fear which harasses and compromises a leader. God told him to go to Pharaoh, in these words: “Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayst bring forth my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses, largely through fear, began to offer objections and excuses for not going, until God became angry with him, and said, finally, that He would send Aaron with Moses to do the talking, as long as Moses insisted that he “was slow of speech and of slow tongue.” But the fact was, Moses was afraid of the face of Pharaoh, and it took God some time to circumvent his fears and nerve him to face the Egyptian monarch and deliver God’s message to him.
And Joshua, too, the successor of Moses, and a man seemingly courageous, must needs be fortified by God against fear, lest he shrink from duty, and be reduced to discouragement and timidity. “Be strong and of good courage,” God commanded him. “Have I not commanded thee? Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
As good and true a man as Jeremiah was sorely tempted to fear and had to be warned and strengthened lest he prove false to his charge. When God ordained him a prophet unto the nations, Jeremiah began to excuse himself on the ground that he could not speak, being but a child in that regard. So the Lord had to safeguard him from the temptation of fear, that he might not prove faithless: “Thou therefore, gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them,” God said to His servant, “all that I command thee; be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.”
Since these great men of old time were so beset with this temptation, and disposed to shrink from duty we need not be surprised that preachers of our own day are to be found in similar case. The devil is the same in all ages; nor has human nature undergone any change. How needful, then, that we pray for the leaders of our Israel especially that they may receive the gift of boldness, and speak the Word of God with courage.
This was one reason why Paul insisted so vigorously that the brethren pray for him, so that a door of utterance might be given him, and that he might be delivered from the fear of man, and blessed with holy boldness in preaching the Word.
The challenge and demand of the world in our own day is that Christianity be made practical; that its precepts be expressed in practice, and brought down from the realm of the ideal to the levels of every-day life. This can be done only by praying men, who being much in sympathy with their ministers will not cease to bear them up in their prayers before God.
A preacher of the Gospel cannot meet the demands made upon him, alone, any more than the vine can bear grapes without branches. The men who sit in the pews are to be the fruit-bearing ones. They are to translate the “ideal” of the pulpit into the “real” of daily life and action. But they will not do it, they cannot do it, if they be not devoted to God and much given to prayer. Devotion to God and devotion to prayer are one and the same thing.
You may read the full article at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
Remember to pray for your pastor who is faithful in preaching the Word of God. If he is not preaching the Word of God pray that his heart be changed to the Word.
Worship the Lord Jesus in the fellowship of brothers and sisters at your local church this Sunday.
-Tim A. Blankenship