Martin Luther reportedly said that prayer, meditation, and temptation make a preacher. There is much truth in this—all three help a preacher.
Prayer is essential because we need His direction in every area of our preaching. We need to know what He would like us to preach on, what text to speak from, how to structure and illustrate the message, and how to apply that truth to the hearts and lives of our audience.
We also need to be keenly aware that only He can make spiritual truth understandable. The things of God are “spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). We are only the instruments; we are not the power. Reliance upon Him expressed through prayer is essential.
Meditation is essential because the message has to first hit us before it hits others. The audience must see how the text makes a difference in our own lives. That means we must reflect on what the text is saying to us personally, so we better know how to apply it to our audience. Meditating upon the text not only in our study but even as we move about throughout the week enhances our communication. “In His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2) especially when applied to the text from which we are speaking makes an enormous difference.
Temptation becomes beneficial in so much as it makes you more relatable to your audience. We’ve been where they are, done what they’ve done, and been tempted in similar ways. What we’re saying is not just coming from our head, it is coming from our daily walk.
Life has not been a bed of roses for anyone in our audience and the audience needs to know it has not been a bed of roses for us either. Our victories and our defeats, our successes and failures, communicated through our different personalities, helps make truth relatable.
Temptation and how we handle everything that comes into our lives is what makes the audience understand that we are one of them. They need to know that when I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has taken you but such as is common to man,” we have experienced the truth of that firsthand.
Martin Luther had a good point, one no doubt drawn from his own experience. Prayer, meditation, and temptation make us better preachers.