Ezekiel 1:9; Ezekiel 3:1,2
And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and lo, a roll of a book was therein…Moreover, he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Brethren, it is not easy for me to tell you precisely how I make my sermons…I have often said that the difficulty is to fix my mind upon the particular texts which are to be the subjects of discourse on [Sunday]―or, to speak more correctly, to know what topics the Holy Spirit would have me bring before the congregation…Even if we know how rightly to divide the Word of God, we want wisdom in the selection of the particular part of truth which is most applicable to the season and to the people assembled.
THOMAS CROSBY (1840-1914) (The Chilliwack Valley, Canada, 1867): [While] I rode on to my evening appointment, where I had promised to preach to the white people, on the way I forgot both my sermon and text. I expected to preach to a number of settlers, some of whom had families by native women, to whom they were not married. By the time I reached the farmhouse my mind was directed to the text, No man cared for my soul, Psalm 142:4. And if ever the Almighty helped a poor mortal to preach He did it that night. Thoughts seemed to come right down from heaven, pouring through my soul to the people around me. I spoke of the judgment day, when the cry would come from these dishonoured mothers and children, “You sinned with us and dragged us down, but you never cared for our souls.” God helped me fearlessly to preach the truth, and then applied it with convicting power to their hearts.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Well, I do not know that it is a part of the business of a preacher to explain the processes of his own mind and his own heart, but clearly no man should preach unless he has felt that God has given him a message. It is the business of any man who tries to preach and expound the Scriptures to wait upon God for leading and guidance.
JAMES HARRINGTON EVANS (1785-1849): Seek God in prayer for the choice of a passage.
THOMAS BOSTON (1676-1732): Thou canst not otherwise say of thy preaching, Thus saith the Lord. How wilt thou get a word from God, if thou do not seek it; and how canst thou seek it but by earnest prayer? If otherwise, thou mayst get something that is the product of thy empty head to mumble over before the people, and spend a little time with them in the church. But O it is a miserable preaching where the preacher can say, “Thus say I to you,” but no more; and cannot say, Thus saith the Lord.
JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Those are the best sermons, that are obtained by prayer.
THOMAS BOSTON: And there are these things which thou wouldst specially mind to pray for with respect to this:
1. That thou mayst have a word from the Lord to deliver unto them; that thou mayest not preach to them the product of thy own wisdom, and that which merely flows from thy reason; for this is poor heartless preaching.
2. That thy soul may be affected with the case of the people to whom thou preachest. If that be wanting, it will tongue-preaching, but not heart-preaching.
3. That thy heart may be inflamed with zeal for the glory of thy Master; that out of love to God, and love to souls, thy preaching may flow.
4. That the Lord may preach it into thy own heart, both when thou studiest and deliverest it. For if this be not, thou shalt be like one that feeds others, but starves himself for hunger; or like a way-mark, that shows the way to men, but never moves a foot itself.
C. H. SPURGEON: In preparing a sermon, wait upon the Lord until you have communion with Christ in it, until the Holy Spirit causes you to feel the power of the truth which you are to deliver. “Son of man, eat this roll.” Before you attempt to give out the Word to others, get it into yourself. Is there not too much dead preaching, and dead church work of all sorts?
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Did the prophets give their messages as the result of their study and their observation and their thinking―is that it? No, no, says Peter, here is the truth: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. Now that is often misunderstood. People think that Peter means you cannot understand the prophecies unless you are inspired. But he is not talking about that; he is talking about the prophets and what they did. He means that prophecy is not man’s theory. Well, what it is? For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man―a prophet could not prophesy whenever he liked; a man could not get up and say, “Now I’m going to prophesy”―but holy men of God spake as they were moved―carried along, borne along―by the Holy Ghost, II Peter 1:20,21. Those holy men of God were not only given understanding, they were also given liberty, they were given freedom―freedom of expression. The words came to them. This happens in preaching, and it also happens in prayer.
GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): The Lord helps me when I preach, provided I have earnestly sought Him in private. A preacher cannot know the hearts of the individuals in the congregation or what they need to hear. But the Lord knows; and if the preacher renounces his own wisdom, he will be assisted by the Lord. But if he is determined to choose a subject in his own wisdom, he should not be surprised when he sees little fruit resulting from his labours.
THOMAS BOSTON: Consider that word, “But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way,” Jerermiah 23:22. There is no doubt but preachers not standing in God’s counsel this day, and not making men to hear God’s words, is one great reason of the unsuccessfulness of the gospel. Now this way—prayer in faith, is the most proper expedient for acquaintance with the counsel of God.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Prayer is vital to the life of the preacher. Read the biographies, and the autobiographies of the greatest preachers throughout the centuries and you will find that this has always been the great characteristic of their lives. They were always great men of prayer, and they spent considerable time in prayer.
C. H. SPURGEON: If any one enquire of me, “How shall I obtain the most proper text?” I should answer, “Cry to God for it.”―When your text comes in answer to prayer, it will be all the dearer to you; it will come with a divine savour and unction altogether unknown to the formal orator to whom one theme is as another.