Five Proven Laws for Powerful, Purposeful and Passionate Preaching

PreachingBy Dr. Frank Damazio

I am not writing this as one who has arrived. The only sense of arrival I have is that after every sermon, I know that I will try to do better the next time. That is the sense that most preachers have. We never quite perfect every aspect of preaching.

The following five laws are principles and strategies that I have learned and used over the past years as an appointed preacher and are taken from my book 22 Laws of Preaching. I believe every preacher could benefit from these laws. Some of them may be applied differently depending on your ministry, your location, your church, your flock. But in trying to be fresh, real, sensitive, and Word-based in my preaching, these are the values I respect, the laws I use and try to live by. I pray they will benefit you as well.

The Law of Filling Your Own Well

A leader’s spiritual condition will be evident in his preaching. An empty spirit, an empty well, cannot be hidden behind a flurry of fast or pretty words. Preaching is impartation, not just communication. “Imparting” implies giving a part—in this case, a part of yourself. The leader must keep his own heart and spirit healthy, growing, and full of the goodness and passion of God to pass these things on to others.

When your well is not full, you preach from your lack and insecurities. You may apologize too much. You may say things you wish you had not said. When your well is empty, you may preach from your mind instead of your spirit. You may not feel the difference, but your church will, your friends will, and your family will. The connection with people’s spirits will not be made. Mind speaks to mind and spirit speaks to spirit. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit and you speak out of that reservoir, people respond—even if your words are weak and your outline is illogical and your illustrations do not hit the target.

If you minister out of a full well, they will drink. Why? Preaching is a spiritual act. It is not lecturing or public speaking. I have no desire to be a public speaker: what I love is to be a vessel for the holy oil of God. I love to see a well so filled with the right virtues and the right spirit that it spills out over the people and you can see them drinking in.

Nothing will keep a leader’s well filled better than consistent devotional reading of the pure word of God, coupled with prayer from the heart that is a true communion with the Father. Set aside a specific time and place for your daily devotional and one-on-one prayer appointment with God. Make this meeting time as unbreakable as a dental appointment. Hold on to this connection to God and God’s Word throughout your day.

His praise will continually be in my mouth, David said (Ps. 34:1). Let God dwell in you, not just come for guest visits.

Your ministry should be a well of living water. The London minister Charles Spurgeon talked about preachers whose wells had old cans and dead cats in them. Do not let your ministry become an empty well littered with refuse. Fill it up.

The Law of Loving Loving Sinners

People will hear what you preach only after they feel that you care for them. The preacher must have a positive and healthy attitude toward the people he affects with his words and actions. Preaching with sensitivity and love makes biblical truths manageable for believers.

Preaching God’s word means preaching that homosexuality is sin, that premarital sex is sin, that cheating on your income taxes is sin. Not all people like to hear these things. But while the preacher must hate the sin, he must show love to, and open his heart to feel God’s love for, the sinners. You must love preaching truth but you also must love the people to whom you are preaching. Some preachers love their preaching more than they love the people, and that can be sensed by the congregation. If you pastor in one place for a long time, you begin to know the people’s problems and you can become calloused toward them. You may begin to question why you preach, since the people seem to continue dealing with the same problems, the same disobedience to the Word, over and over. Even if you start out loving the people, you may become discouraged by the lack of change. When your heart loses compassion for people, it affects your message. You must love people whether they change or not. Your mission is to preach the Word with love; God is in charge of changing the people.

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon Earth.” — John Wesley, 18th-century Anglican Preacher and Theologian.

The Law of Appreciating the Seasons

A preacher will experience various spiritual seasons that will affect his preaching. When long, unexpected dry periods occur, the preacher may become concerned that he has done something to quench the anointing or that God has withdrawn a measure of anointing without explanation. A preacher must learn how to use the seasons for his benefit. A dry season is an ideal time to settle in and nurture deeper roots and solidify his foundation following a season of growth. The seasons of victory or sorrow, growth, or discouragement, stillness or fruitfulness, can all be used by the Holy Spirit to bring breadth and depth to the preacher and his preaching.

Preachers should not allow these seasons of discouragement or disappointment to affect their messages. You should preach the Word no matter what you are going through personally. You should preach the Word as if you are living every aspect of the victory, even though you might be in a valley or in a dry time. It is exceedingly difficult for the sheep to eat when the preacher is pouring out personal problems instead of organic, Bible-based food.

Only a few times in over three decades have I ever exposed my difficult seasons from the pulpit. Some of you may do that often, and maybe you are good at it and can get away with it. “I can’t believe the financial problems we’re having.” “We have all these health difficulties.” “My wife is having a crisis.” “My kids have been going through one disaster after another.” Maybe some people can relate to your problems. But I think if you preach about your difficulties too much, you eventually pay for it. People start wondering, “When is he going to get through these things?” Or they think, “If he’s going through this, and he is a pastor, then my life is really going to be messed up.” Or “If he’s feeling down, and he is a pastor, I’m going to be destroyed.”

If I am in a valley, I do not preach on valleys. If I am experiencing a financial difficulty, I do not preach on finance. If I am in a prayer dry season, I do not preach on prayer dryness. I focus on preaching the Word. If I preach the Scripture, I forget about my season. It keeps me from sharing all my personal life all the time. There is a time to share some of your personal life, and that will be covered later. But rather than using the difficult seasons as sermon topics, use them to focus on your personal growth and to strengthen your spiritual foundation.

The Law of Abiding Anointing

When preachers linger too long and too often outside their spiritual gifting and calling, the anointing may seem to decline. Administration, program management, people problems, excessive non-biblical reading, or energy-draining activities may quench the preacher’s spirit. Inspiration may evaporate and preaching may seem like harder work than before. We must at these times guard our hearts and our spirits. While we should do what we can to reorder our priorities, preachers must also remember that inspiration resides within the Word, not in the leader. We may all have times that we preach by faith in the word of God even when we do not feel the anointing power. Sometimes we may try to holler our way out of it, or act our way out of it or prophesy our way out of it. We may try every way to feel the anointing, but it cannot be found in feeling or emotion. It is in the spirit.

The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once delivered what he thought was a good sermon but then considered it a flop when only sixty people got saved from the thousands he preached to. He went home and fell on his face and asked God for forgiveness, saying, “God, that’s the poorest sermon I have ever preached in my life. There was nothing. There was no feeling; there was no anointing.” Then he got up and prepared a masterpiece sermon. Worked on it all week, crafted every word, added his illustrations, fasted, and prayed. The next Sunday he preached one of the most marvelous messages he’d ever crafted. Nobody came to the altar. Not one person. He left that service, went to his office, fell on his face, and simply said, “I understand the lesson.” It’s not by mind. It’s not by power. It’s by my spirit, says the Lord.

Sometimes you do everything you know how to do and there is no response. Other times, God says, “I like that message; I’ll use it.” And God goes to work. The anointing does not abide in emotion. it abides in the Word of God. And when you preach that Word, things will start happening in people’s lives that you cannot produce otherwise. That is the law of the anointing. The Spirit will be present and will influence people because it resides within the Word of God.

The Law of a Well-Fed Feeder

Studying for sermons does not necessarily produce a well-informed mind. You can be deeply knowledgeable in Bible study and know nothing about the world. It’s important to read books, including secular books, that expose you to material that stretches the mind and enlarges the vocabulary. The reading of the word of God consistently in different translations will feed the spirit and the mind, as will reading theological books. I also read secular books, and I read books I do not understand—books that I admit are beyond me. But if I absorb even if a little of what they say, it stretches my thinking into new issues and areas that I had not considered before.

A preacher should be well-read and well-informed in many areas—business, entertainment, culture, technology, theology, regional, and world events—to reach people where they live. Preachers who seclude themselves in exclusively Christian environments and make no effort to keep abreast of world changes will lose a sense of how to communicate biblical lessons to contemporary listeners.

As in all areas, though, the preacher must maintain a balance. Excluding biblical teachings and kingdom truths and providing instead entirely contemporary “infotainment” messages is a far more dangerous trend than being unaware of worldly influences.

Stay the Course

There are any number of unique and challenging elements that come into this whole experience of preaching. Some of you may have questioned your appointment to preach because of what you see as a lack of fruitfulness in preaching. We sometimes tend to equate church growth with good preaching, but you could be a great preacher and not have church growth. Others question their appointment to preach after they have been criticized. No one enjoys criticism and most people do not handle it well. Even preachers occasionally have fleeting thoughts of getting even with their critics. Some may pray, “Lord, give my detractors everything they so richly deserve.” But whether the criticism leveled against you is right or wrong, it should not be allowed to change your heart. If you harden your heart or become bitter or cynical because of criticism you’ve received, you have made a wrong choice. The preacher and apostle Paul was criticized consistently for everything from his looks to his preaching style to his desire to not accept money for preaching. His critics even questioned his right to preach. But Paul never wavered, testifying repeatedly, “I am appointed a preacher and an apostle.” Paul was given the appointment—the authority— to preach by God and was not swayed from that appointment by his critics. My authority to preach exists not because people voted for me, nor because I went to Bible college, nor because I came up with an outline and decided to try preaching. My authority comes from the appointment of God. I believe in the gift God has given me and I believe when all else fails— people, me, circumstances, the church—I must have the confidence that I can say before God and all people: “I was appointed to do this. I was appointed by God to preach.” To be a preacher of purpose and passion, you must have confidence in your appointment by God and receive this calling as one of the greatest gifts that God can give any human being.

Hopefully these were helpful and if you want to read through 17 additional laws for preaching, read my book 22 Laws of Preaching.

Want to Learn to Apply These Laws?

Every preacher has the desire to progress little by little, with a relentless pursuit of continuous development and improvement. This course is designed to build solid preaching principles into all preaches on all levels of preaching. Preaching involves hermeneutics, good theology, exegesis skills, crafting sermons, along with connecting and communicating the message to the listeners.  If you’re ready to get serious about your preaching and:

  • Learn how to craft better sermons
  • Develop sound theology & theological depth
  • Improve your communication and preaching skills
  • Speak with confidence & authenticity


Enroll in my course Take Your Preaching to the Next Level.