I must have prayed for weeks before I preached my first sermon at 14 years of age. I pleaded for God’s help and blessing, knowing that without it I would be a miserable failure. Today I often preach more than twelve times in a single week. I no longer feel nervous, even when preaching to crowds of hundreds of thousands, and therein lies the danger. Although I feel comfortable and confident behind the pulpit, I must continually remind myself that my sense of security is just an illusion. I could preach the most articulate sermon with the most extraordinary delivery, but I would still be a miserable failure without the blessing of the Lord.
I find that the more secure we feel, the more danger we are in, because it is in comfort that we can so easily forget our utter need for God. That’s why, before I get up to preach, I pray the prayer that used to be said in the classrooms of America before prosperity made her apathetic towards the very One who had so blessed her: “Almighty God, I acknowledge my utter dependence upon You and beg for Your blessing.” It is this awareness of our complete dependence upon God that will make us diligent in prayer. If you lack this consciousness in your life, chances are you are sleepwalking through the perilous wilds of complacency.