Why Revival Tarries
By Leonard Ravenhill
WITH ALL THY GETTING, GET UNCTION
The Cinderella of the church of today is the prayer meeting. This handmaid of the Lord is unloved and unwooed 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 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 preaching without unction. What is unction? I hardly know. 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 savor of death unto death. The Word does not live unless the unction is upon the preacher. “Preacher, with all thy getting – get unction.”
Brethren, we could well manage to be half as intellectual (of the modern pseudo kind) if we were twice as spiritual. Preaching is a spiritual business. A sermon born in the head reaches the head; a sermon born in the heart reaches the heart. Under God, a spiritual preacher will produce spiritually minded people. Unction is not a gentle dove beating her wings against the bars outside of the preacher’s soul; rather, must she be pursued and won. Unction cannot be learned, only earned – by prayer. Unction is God’s knighthood for the soldier-preacher who has wrestled in prayer and gained the victory. Victory is not won in the pulpit by firing intellectual bullets or wisecracks, but in the prayer closet; it is won or lost before the preacher’s foot enters the pulpit. Unction is like dynamite. Unction comes not by the medium of the bishop’s hands, neither does it mildew when the preacher is cast into prison. Unction will pierce and percolate; it will sweeten and soften. When the hammer of logic and the fire of human zeal fail to open the stony heart, unction will succeed.
What a fever of church building there is just now! Yet without unctionized preachers, these altars will never see anxious penitents. Suppose that we saw fishing boats, with the latest in radar equipment and fishing gear, launched month after month and put out to sea only to return without a catch – what excuse would we take for this barrenness? Yet thousands of churches see empty altars week after week and year after year, and cover this sterile situation by misapplying the Scripture, “My word…shall not return unto me void.” (Incidentally, this seems to be one of the very few texts that the dispensationalists forgot to tell us was written to the Jews!)
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 dime a dozen, degrees or no degrees.
The church today is standing on the sidewalk, watching with fever and frustration, while the sin-dominated evil geniuses of Moscow strut the middle of the road, breathing out threatenings against “whatsoever things are lovely and of good report.” Behind, follows the purple pageantry of papal Rome. Moreover, the devil has substituted reincarnation for regeneration, familiar spirits for the Holy Spirit, Christian Science for divine healing, the Antichrist for the true Christ, and the Church of Rome for the true Church.
Against these twin evils of Communism and Romanism, what has the Church to offer? Where is the supernatural? Both in the pulpit and in the press, somnolence seems to have overtaken religious controversy of late. Even Rome does not call us Protestants any more; we have just the juiceless name of non-Catholics! Significant, isn’t it? Hell has no fury like that of this “Mother of Harlots” “when she is stirred.” But who now “earnestly contends for the faith once delivered to the saints”? Where are our unctionized pulpit crusaders? 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.