”If speaking is like cooking,
then prayer turns the recipe into a meal.”
A Christian speaker has the responsibility of preparation but also has the privilege of prayer. Before, during, and after the speech, the speaker should commit the message to the Lord in prayer. Prayer opens the heart to hear from God and directs the mind to speak to others. Without prayer, a person speaks only words. With prayer, a Christian can speak truth. Pray to speak truth from God each time you speak publicly.
Jesus illustrated in His life the importance of prayer. In John 17, He prayed specifically for Himself and others. He sought God’s guidance with the words of His mouth and the meditations of His heart. His prayer focus can be a pattern for Christians at all times, especially before speaking or teaching.
In the first five verses of John 17, Jesus prays for Himself. He prays specifically to glorify God and expresses a desire to complete the work assigned to Him. Speakers should pray for themselves personally, to glorify God and serve Him through speaking. In the second section of John 17 (vv 6-9), Jesus prays for others. He prays specifically for His disciples to hear from the Lord and be united in their message. Christian speakers should pray that their audiences will hear from the Lord and understand the proclaimed truth. In the last section of John 17 (vv 20-26), Jesus prays for all believers to be one with the Father in taking the gospel to the world.
Speakers should pray for unbelievers listening to respond to the gospel as well as for believers to spread the good news to others. Christian speakers have an example in the prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17:25-26:
The world has not known You.
However, I have known that You,
and these have known that You sent Me.
I made Your name known to them
and will make it known,
so the love You have loved Me with
may be in them and I may be in them.
Prayer is important to life and essential to ministry. As a Christian speaker prepares to speak and stands to deliver, she must commit her words and herself to the Lord. Then, the Holy Spirit will speak through her with power.
A Christian speaker should begin praying about her message from the moment she is invited to speak. Prayer not only helps a speaker know what to say, it keeps the focus on God, not self; it opens eyes to the needs of others; and it calms the spirit with confidence to speak.
In his book, Saying It Well: Touching Others With Your Words, Chuck Swindoll writes: “If preaching is like cooking, then prayer turns the recipe into a meal.” Prayer gives meaning to a speaker’s words. Like a recipe, a message has many ingredients. It is not the individual ingredients, but the blending of all ingredients that gives the dish a satisfying taste. It is prayer that blends together the contents of the speech and the methods of delivery to make a powerful message. A message from the Lord is just not right without prayer.
In general, a speaker should pray daily without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). Praise to the Lord as well as personal petitions are vital aspects of prayer. Prayer should be focused on the purpose of the speech, occasion of the speech, and content of the speech. Prayer should be for the speaker and for the listeners. At all times, pray for God’s will to be accomplished in the message and messenger, in the hearers and their hearts. Through prayer, a speaker is reminded that God is in control of everything and can be trusted.
E.M. Bounds’ book, Power through Prayer has been called by many people “the greatest book on prayer ever written.” Bounds believed a preacher’s prayerful heart and the Holy Spirit’s anointing gave power to the message. He said, “Prayer, much prayer, is the price of preaching unction. Prayer, much prayer, is the sole condition of keeping the anointing. Without unceasing prayer, the anointing never comes to the preacher. Without perseverance in prayer, the anointing, like over-kept manna, breeds worms.” Christian speakers must be persistent in prayer.
What role does prayer play in your own preparation for speaking?