Wednesday, March 17, 2010

“Don’t let them stop you from praying”

I wanted to share with you this video clip I came across recently. It’s from a sermon by the Rev. Timothy Flemming, Sr., pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA, entitled, “Don’t Let Them Stop You From Praying”. Coming out of Daniel 6, Pastor Flemming brings out several encouraging principles about prayer that we would all do well to keep in mind. Before you view the clip, I think some explanation is in order. You will notice from the start that Pastor Flemming is very much a black preacher in the traditional mold. Personally, I like how he’s going at it, as this clip opens. Frankly, I wish my thoughts flowed as quickly and my voice had as much stamina, so that I could preach with the kind of fire and force that Pastor Flemming delivers. From the start, it is quite evident that his audience is caught up in the moment with their pastor, and they respond very enthusiastically and emotionally to what he is saying.

A disclaimer: I think that, perhaps, some in the audience get a bit too caught up in the high emotion of the moment. There is an exceedingly fine line between emotion and emotionalism. Emotions are good, they’re God-given and normal. I do not advocate divorcing our emotions from our worship. Neither do I believe in emotionless preaching. I certainly don’t disapprove of emotional responses to preaching. I believe the Bible condones celebration and rejoicing, clapping and shouting, dancing and leaping in the context of worship. In fact, I think it is exceedingly difficult to contemplate God, and His goodness and mercy towards us, and not react in some way or become emotional. However, near the close of this clip, as Pastor Flemming “shifts gears” and transitions into the closing “celebration” phase of his message*, you will hear a woman, somewhere in the audience, screaming. Briefly, near the end of the clip, you will also see a woman (the same woman?) jumping and thrashing about, as the women standing next to her try unsuccessfully to hold her down.

Because of the level of emotional reaction from some in the audience, I hesitated to post this clip. Coming from a traditional black church background, I’m not unfamiliar with the things I see in this clip, but I realize to some this kind of unbridled emotion will be shocking or offensive. I would encourage you to please try to look past the emotion and hear the message. There is a good message here that we need to hear. So, listen, and rejoice over the privilege of prayer that is our through Christ, and be encouraged to come daily before God’s throne of grace, like Daniel. Don’t let nobody or nothing stop you from praying!

*In some black preaching traditions, it is in the “celebration” that the preacher begins the “whoop”—a rhythmic, often sung, delivery of the words, sometimes punctuated with the audible inhalation or exhalation of air.

1 comment:

Ray Ortlund said...

Wondrous preaching. Thank you.