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”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?
In the third century, a young Christian woman and nursing mother named Perpetua demonstrated her devotion to the Lord even to death. She was asked by the authorities and her own father to deny her Christian faith in order to save her life, but she refused. Her words of faith spoke clearly: “Could this vase or flowerpot be called b any other name? I cannot be called anything other than I am, a Christian.” In an amphitheater before crowds of mockers, Perpetua and other martyrs were scourged by gladiators, mutilated by wild animals, and then killed by swords. She courageously spoke of her faith and then died for it.
As a Christian woman and as a speaker, it is of utmost necessity to evaluate your relationship with God. Your devotion to God will be reflected by your readiness to speak out for Jesus whenever you are called upon, and also as you prepare to bring a biblical message from the Lord. Are you strong in your faith? Are you growing in Him? Are you becoming the woman God created you to be? If you desire your life to count for His glory, you must be walking with the Lord faithfully as you engage in Bible Study, spend time in prayer, serve the Lord in ministry, and speak a witness of His redeeming love.
We will be judged based on the motives behind our service to the Lord as revealed in 1 Corinthians 3:11-13: “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will be clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” (HCSB)
Bible study is essential for spiritual growth, and it is also an important source of information for preparing to speak a word from the Lord. Personal Bible study reveals not only the nature of God, it also teaches truths of the faith that can be shared with others. Devotional reading of the Bible as well as systematic study of the Word provide a biblical foundation for speeches and supportive material for points of the message.
Prayer is another vital element of spiritual growth for the Christian woman teacher to embrace daily! Prayer draws a believer closer to the Lord. God speaks to His children during times of prayer, and His children have the opportunity to speak their hearts to Him. Prayer also guides and directs a Christian who is preparing to speak, and prayer empowers the Christian while speaking. It is integral to the Christian life and essential for the Christian speaker.
Other important disciplines of the Christian faith are witnessing and service. All of these are needed for the spiritual growth and speech preparation of a Christian woman. However, these disciplines are not possible without complete devotion to the Lord. We must possess His strength to be able to be who He has called us to be. Being devoted in seeking Him is vital to the woman who is a Bible teacher, as she will be an example to many other women.
Devotion is not a word understood by or desired by the world. Most people are devoted only to themselves and their own desires. But the Bible teaches believers to be devoted to the Lord and follow Him wholeheartedly. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and man.”
The dictionary defines devotion as “ardent, often selfless affection and dedication,” It is loyalty and enthusiasm for a person activity or cause. It is literally pure love, the knowledge that one would actually give up life to protect or defend another without question or hesitation. For Christians, devotion is pure love of the Lord, a sincere expression of total faith through prayer and worship.
Devotion to the Lord helps a Christian be prepared at all times to speak out for Jesus, much like Perpetua. Personal commitment to the task of public speaking will also help a Christian speaker develop skills for the task. Those who think about the process of communication, learn about public speaking, study speaking techniques, and practice specific principles will undoubtedly become much more effective public speakers.