Strong medicine for preachers from the weathered pen of E. M. Bounds:
"The real sermon is made in the closet. The man--God's man--is made in the closet. His life and his profoundest convictions were born in his secret communion with God. The burdened and tearful agony of his spirit, his weightiest and sweetest messages were got when alone with God. Prayer makes the man; prayer makes the preacher; prayer makes the pastor. The pulpit of this day [Bounds died in 1913] is weak in praying. The pride of learning is against the dependent humility of prayer. Prayer is with the pulpit too often only official--a performance for the routine of service. Prayer is not to the modern pulpit the mighty force it was in Paul's life or Paul's ministry. Every preacher who does not make prayer a mighty factor in his own life and ministry is weak as a factor in God's work and is powerless to project God's cause in this world."
E. M. Bounds, Preacher and Prayer 4th ed. (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1963), p. 11.
Fellow preachers, be men of great learning; the Holy Spirit never bypasses the mind to reach the heart. However, be preeminently men of humble dependence upon God the Holy Spirit. Before you ascend the pulpit to speak before men, descend to the prayer closet and speak to God. Onward!