I Preached My Most Powerful Sermon in a 'Still Small Voice'
I have preached many sermons since I was licensed in 1995 and ordained in 1996. When I was in seminary studying to get a master of Christian Education degree, it was a requirement to preach an evaluated sermon during a weekly chapel service as part of the curriculum.
In addition to preaching, students were required to be responsible for the entire service. That included selecting the music and getting other students to assist if needed.
When it was my turn, I chose to preach on the subject "Hearing the Still Small Voice" based on 1 Kings 19:11-12. I used the prophet Elijah as a good example of one who expected to hear God's voice in various ways. Instead, he heard God speak in "a still small voice."
According to the scriptures, Elijah had run away and was hiding from Jezebel who had promised to kill all the prophets. God told fearful Elijah to come out of the cave and stand on the mountain. Elijah expected God to speak to him through a strong wind that tore the mountains and broke the rocks into pieces. However, God was not in the wind.
An earthquake came after the wind, but God was not in the earthquake. Then fire came after the earthquake, but God was not in the fire. Elijah did not hear God speak through any of those three occurrences. Instead, God spoke to Elijah in a low whisper. Some Bibles say God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice.
After saying that, the Spirit of the Lord caused me to begin preaching in a still small voice. I continued the rest of the sermon in a whisper. Even though I was speaking in a powerful whisper, I could be heard throughout the auditorium by more than a hundred schoolmates, professors, and staff who attended chapel that day.
God's Still Small Voice
Still, in a whisper, I pointed out that many times people anticipate the way God will speak to them. Like Elijah, they are usually wrong because God can get a person's attention in a way that is least expected.
God usually does not speak in a loud voice because He doesn't have to. Leaders with real authority don't have to yell in order to get people's attention either.
Aftermath of the Sermon
There was no plan in advance to preach in a whisper during the sermon. It had not been rehearsed or done by choice. Without warning, I began to speak in a whisper and could not stop. It was as if God has turned the volume of my voice down to a low whisper to get the attention of those in the congregation. If it surprised them, it surprised me even more.
After the sermon was over and it was time to go back to class, nobody moved. It was as if the audience was spellbound. After a few moments, the people left the room very quietly as if they couldn't believe what had just happened.
Later that day I received a note in my mailbox from the president of the seminary. He thanked me for the sermon and shared how much it helped him because he was waiting to hear from God concerning some major decisions he had to make.
Some of my classmates said they did not want to follow me to preach their evaluated sermons because I had raised the bar too high for them. Needless to say, my preaching professor said she had never witnessed anything like that before and my sermon passed with flying colors.
That was the only time something supernatural like that has ever happened while I was preaching. It had never happened that way before, and it has never happened that way since then. However, I have heard God speak to me in His still small voice hundreds of times over the years.
Why I Think That Happened
I have thought about that experience many times over the years and have wondered why it happened that one time and never again. It is still a mystery to me, but I have some thoughts.
Several things were lined up for that supernatural experience.
- I was well prepared. I had studied the text so much that it had become part of me.
- I put myself into the passage. I was there with Elijah as he encountered God's still small voice.
- The environment was right. The audience was receptive to being taught.
- The experience wasn't forced. I moved out of the way and just let it happen.
- My sermon was for me just as much as it was for the listeners.
All of those things worked together for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to take over.