Before the great revival in Gallneukirchen broke out, Martin Boos spent hours and days and often nights in lonely agonies of intercession. Afterwards, when he preached, his words were flame, and the hearts of the people as grass.
Leonard Ravenhill’s ‘Why Revival Tarries’ is good enough to quote verbatim. Here goes:
The Cinderella of the church of today is the prayer meeting. this handmaid of the Lord is unloved and unwood because she is not dripping with the pearls of intellectualism, nor glamorous with the silks of philosophy, neither is she enchanting with the tiara of psychology. She wears the homespuns of sincerity and humility and so is not afraid to kneel!
The offense of prayer is that it does not essentially tie in to mental efficiency. (That is not to say that prayer is a partner to mental sloth; in these days efficiency is at a premium. ) Prayer is conditioned by one thing alone, and that is spirituality. One does not need to be spiritual to preach, that is, to make and deliver sermons of homiletical perfection and exegetical exactitude. By a combination of memory, knowledge, ambition, personality, plus well-lined bookshelves, self-confidence and a sense of having arrived – brother, the pulpit is yours almost anywhere these days. Preaching of the type you mentioned affects men; prayer affects God. Preaching affects time; prayer affects eternity. The pulpit can be a shopwindow to display our talents; the closet speaks death to display.
The tragedy of this late hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people. Oh! the horror of it. There is a strange thing that I have seen “under the sun,” even in the fundamentalist circles; it is preachign without unction. What is unction? I hardly now. But I know what it is not (or at least I know when it is not upon my own soul). Preaching without unction kills instead of giving life. The unctionless preacher is a savour of death unto death. The Word does not live unless the unction is upon the preacher. Preacher, with all thy getting, get unction.
…The ugly fact is that altar fires are either out or burning very low. The prayer meeting is dead or dying. By our attitude to prayer we tell God that what was begun in the Spirit we can finish in the flesh. What church ever asks its candidating ministers what time they spend in prayer? Yet ministers who do not spend two hours a day in prayer are not worth a dimze a dozen, degree or no degrees…
Preachers who should be fishing for men are now too often fishing for compliments from men. Preachers used to sow seed; now they string intellectual pearls. (Imagine a field sown with pearls!)
Away with this palsied, powerless preaching which is unmoving because it was born in a tomb instead of a womb, and nourished in a fireless, prayerless soul. We may preach and perish, but we cannot pray and perish. If God called us to the ministry, then, dear brethren, I contend that we should get unctionized. With all thy getting, get unction, lest barren altars be the badge of our unctionless intellectualism.
Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; support the tottering knees. Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down. John Wesley