“Pour Through Me the Gift of Preaching”
It was in the mid-to-late 1990’s when I got up one Sunday in the Highland pulpit with a keen sense of inadequacy. Perhaps it was the lingering fog of grief—a kind of sea smoke that washed over me many mornings. Or maybe it was just a sharpened sense of the awesome task of speaking a word on behalf of God. (“Woe to me! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!” – Isaiah)
But in my prayer that morning, these words came out: “Please pour through me the gift of preaching.” And that might have been the last time I offered that prayer except that afterward Rebekah Zeller came up to tell me how much those words meant to her.
So then I had to actually think about them. And the more I thought about the task of preaching, the more they said just what I believed.
So I started offering that prayer every Sunday, and have now done so for the past nearly 20 years.
I wish I had saved every story parents from Highland told me about children who were asked to pray at dinner or at bedtime and who blurted out those words: “please pour through me the gift of preaching.” I love that! The rhythm and regularity of worship had settled in their hearts. And I love it whenever I hear a young minister offer the same prayer.
The words continue to express a deep mystery that I don’t fully understand. Preaching involves deep study, prayer, rumination, and imagination. But in the end, it is the Spirit of God who blesses the words and again speaks afresh from the Word of God to the people of God.