A sister in Virginia writes, “You recently asked readers to pray that God would ‘anoint’ your messages during a weekend preaching mission. This is not a word commonly used by people in my church. Please elaborate on what you mean.”
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This figure of speech goes back to the Old Testament practice of pouring oil over the head of someone being formally set apart for service to God, whether the “anointed” person was a prophet, priest or king (Ex. 28:41; 1 Sam. 16:1-3; Zech. 4:14). By this act, the faith-community acknowledged that God also had “anointed” or poured out special grace on the individual. Indeed, “man appoints whom God anoints.” The levitical priests also anointed the altar and other furnishings of their holy rituals, symbolizing an exclusive dedication to the service of God (Ex. 29:36; 30:26-29).
The Greek word Christos means an “anointed one.” We therefore call Jesus of Nazareth “the Christ” because we acknowledge him to be supremely anointed by God as our Prophet, Priest and King (Isa. 61:1-3; Lk. 4:17-21; Acts 10:38). According to the New Testament, God also “anoints” those who believe in Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit, who energizes us and guides us into God’s truth (2 Cor. 1:21-22; 1 John 2:20, 27).
Spiritual understanding and moral transformation require divine enabling. Praying for God to “anoint” one’s ministry means asking God’s power for the task and his special blessing on it. An old hymn expresses it like this: “Brethren, we have met to worship, and adore the Lord our God. Will you pray with all your power while we try to preach the Word? All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down. Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.” Anointed preaching is preaching which carries the power of God’s blessing and which is therefore effective to accomplish what God intends.