Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. ~Ezekiel 38:7
My entire life centers around one thing… preaching the word of God. Everything I do, Monday through Sunday leads to the moment when my mouth opens with the grandest words ever uttered, “Thus saith the Lord God.” These are truly the only life changing words that will ever enter the ears of men.
Week in and week out as I stand before the people who come to hear the word of God, I am always nervous because there are so many things that are outside of my control. Just this last weekend in the 11 o’clock service just as I began preaching, half the lights went out, the microphone started “squealing”, and it seemed one person after another went to the bathroom the entire length of the service (thankfully every service is not like that, but this last Sunday it was!).
While those things are out of my control, there is one thing that is in my control… “Am I PREPARED to stand in front of the people?” I’m not asking am I worthy, or am I able, but rather, have I prepared myself to proclaim the word of God? Have I spent time the prior week preparing the sermon, studying the text, purifying my mind, understanding what God wants said, and kneeling before God asking for his help? Finding time to prepare for messages is a must for a preacher who desires to be used by God. Anyone can steal a “sermon”, but only after agonizing with God in prayer and an open Bible can a preacher truly have a “message.”
I do not claim to be an expert or to have “arrived”, but the single greatest truth I personally exercise in my own life to make sure I have amply prepared for my time proclaiming God’s truth is this,
“Give your mornings to God.”
This is a line used and attributed to the late W.A. Criswell, former pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas for many years who was world renowned for being a giant in the pulpit. His motto to all preachers was that the morning was to be given to God in prayer and study of the word. The psalmist echoed this when he said, “Early will I seek thee.” Rising early and as Spurgeon said, “Speaking to God before speaking to any other man” will prove to be great blessing to any preacher. While this is not an easy practice to start, if you will carve out every morning for God, moving all appointments, visits, meetings, etc. to the afternoon and evening, you will be immensely enriched and especially prepared for the Lord’s day.
I cannot express to you how greatly this principle has influenced my mind and prepared me for preaching the word of God. I will not say I am an expert, but I can say for this Sunday like Ezekiel, I am prepared for all the company that are assembled unto me to be a guard unto them.