The Cinderella of the Church
The Cinderella of the church today is the prayer meeting. This handmaid of the Lord is unloved, unwood because she is not dripping with the pearls of intellectualism, nor glamorous with the silks of philosophy; neither is she enchanted with the tiara of psychology. She wears the homespun of sincerity and humility and so is not afraid to kneel!
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 slot; in these days efficiency is at a premium. Prayer is conditioned by one thing alone and that is spirituality. One does not need to be spiritual to preach, that is, to make and deliver sermons of homiletically perfection and exegetical exactitude. By a combination of memory, knowledge, ambition, personality, plus well-lined bookshelves, self-confidence and a sense of having arrived—brother, the pulpit is yours almost anywhere these days. Preaching of the type mentioned affects men; prayer affects God. Preaching affects time; prayer affects eternity. The pulpit can be a shop window to display our talents; the closet speaks death to display.
The tragedy of this late hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people. Oh! The horror of it. There is a strange thing that I have seen under the sun, even in the fundamentalist circles; it is preaching without the unction of the spirit. What is unction? I hardly know. But I know what it is not, or at least I know when it is not upon my own soul. Preaching without unction kills instead of giving life. The unctionless preacher is a savor of death unto death. The Word does not live unless the unction of the Spirit is upon the preacher. Preacher, with all thy getting—get unction.
A sermon born in the head reaches a head; a sermon born in a heart reaches a heart. What fever there is today to build churches? Yet without unctionized preachers. Those altars will never see anxious penitents. The ugly fact is that altar fires are out or burning 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.
Away with this palsied, powerless preaching which is unmoving because it was born in a tomb instead of a womb, and nourished in a fireless, paperless soul. We may preach and perish, but we cannot pray and perish. With all they getting—get unction, lest barren altars be the badge of our unction less intellectualism.