Charles Spurgeon

Spurgeon on Writer’s Block (Psalm 51)

Treasury of DavidAs a pastor, I sometimes suffer from a kind of writer’s block when it comes to writing and preparing sermons. Oddly enough, this seems to happen more often (not less) when it involves a well-known and beloved passage of Scripture. (The 23rd Psalm, for example.)

There is something intimidating about preaching the Word of God in general, but this is even more the case when it comes to the most familiar texts.

And so it brought me a strange sense of comfort and encouragement to know that even Charles Spurgeon himself, the “prince of preachers” as he has come to be known, had the following to say about sitting down to write on Psalm 51:

“I postponed expounding it week after week, feeling more and more my inability for the work. Often I sat down to it, and rose up again without having penned a line. . . . Such a Psalm may be wept over, absorbed into the soul, and exhaled again in devotion; but commented on – ah! Where is he who having attempted it can do other than blush at his defeat?” (The Treasury of David, Vol. 1, Preface to Part 2.)

To borrow a phrase from the Apostle Paul, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:16).

You might suppose that such texts practically preach themselves, but they can really humble a pastor (not necessarily a bad thing). So if you are a pastor, and are tasked with the regular preaching of the Word of God – take heart! (Charles Spurgeon was human too!) 🙂

And if you are a believer in Christ, pray for your pastor(s). Preaching isn’t nearly as easy as some of them make it look!

Spurgeon on Atheism


“He who looks up to the firmament and then writes himself down an atheist, brands himself at the same moment as an idiot or a liar.”

These are the words of Charles Spurgeon in commenting on Psalm 19:1, which says,

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (ESV)

Creation itself, especially the heavens and the firmament (the vastness of space with the sun, moon, and stars) – basically the things that are above and beyond us – says something. In the words of Psalm 19:1 it declares something – the glory of God!

The verses that follow (Psalm 19:2-6) make it clear to us the this declaration of the glory of God is abundant (“day unto day pours out speech” – v.3), universal in its reach (“Their voice goes out through all the earth – v.4), and it requires no translator, as it has no language barrier (“There is no speech, nor are their words, whose voice is not heard” – v.3). The declaration or testimony of creation is loud and clear to all who see it.  And that testimony is not to its own glory, but to that of its Creator, God.

So anyone who looks up at the firmament (or sky) and then still calls himself an atheist is (to use Spurgeon’s phrase) branding himself as an idiot or a liar. We all know better, regardless of what we profess to believe (or disbelieve). That is how abundant and clear the testimony of creation is to the glory of its Creator. To use Paul’s words in Romans 1:20, it renders atheists (of both the philosophical and practical variety) “without excuse.”

Spurgeon on Prayer in Public Worship

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) is known as “the prince of preachers.”  His writings (many of which consist of his sermons in written form) continue to be read with much benefit to this day.

In his classic book, Lectures To My Students (which is a manual of sorts on pastoral ministry, and on preaching in particular), he includes a chapter entitled, “Our Public Prayer.”  This chapter is on the pastoral prayer in the context of public worship.

In this chapter Spurgeon makes a statement that should make us (especially those of us who are in the pastorate) sit up and take notice.  He writes,

I will sooner yield up the sermon than the prayer. Thus much I have said in order to impress upon you that you must highly esteem public prayer, and seek of the Lord for the gifts and graces necessary to its right discharge. (p.59)

No less a preacher than Charles Spurgeon esteemed the pastoral prayer in worship so highly that if you gave him the choice between preaching or praying in the public worship of God’s people, he would choose the prayer (!).

How many of us (especially those of us who are ordained to the ministry of Word & Sacrament) esteem prayer that highly?  We spend hours preparing to preach (and rightly so!), but do we give much thought & attention to our prayers?   We should.  It is a great honor and privilege to lead God’s people in prayer.  The apostles concentrated their time & attention on two (2) things: The Word & Prayer (Acts 6:4), so we should do no less.

And how highly should we, as members of the church, esteem the pastoral prayer in worship?  Do we look forward to it as we should?  Do we value it as we should?  Or do our churches neglect prayer during public worship?  In far too many cases today it seems that pastoral prayer is increasingly being pushed to the periphery.  This should not be the case.

May the Lord give us hearts that yearn to pray, not only in private, but also with His church in public worship together on the Lord’s Day.