When we feel adequately "prayed up", are caught up on our Bible reading, have successfully battled our besetting sins for a season, and sense God's anointing in an almost palpable manner, we eagerly anticipate what God will do.
Going into a ministry setting following a "failure", ministering in weakness, fear, and trembling, is a different story altogether. We're certain that any results belong to God alone, for we are more aware of our inadequacies than anything else.
And that is precisely the place God wants us to be. It's the place Paul was in when he went to Corinth from Athens - where a passionate sermon failed to yield significant results (Acts 17) and where Paul needed a direct revelation from God that there would be fruit (Acts 18:9-11). Paul's first letter to the Corinthians reveals a man who determined only to preach the crucified Christ.
The fact is, when we minister in weakness, fear, and trembling, we are more prone to rely on God than on our own abilities. When we minister in weakness, fear, and trembling, we are more conscious that the results are His and not ours. When we minister in weakness, fear, and trembling, we give Him all the glory and are not tempted to keep any for ourselves.
Pastor Ronald Dunn, in his book Don't Just Stand There, Pray Something, relates learning from God how prayer depends upon his position in Christ, not his sense of spirituality. At the end of a day when he did not have time for prayer or Bible reading, he approached his prayer time feeling unworthy, without a right to ask God for anything. The response he received from God was a vivid reminder of our position as believers:
Suddenly it seemed as if the Lord said, 'Suppose you had done a lot of 'spiritual' things today - suppose you had prayed for four hours, read the Bible (on your knees) for four hours, and led ten people to Christ. Would you feel more confident praying than you do now?'
'Yes, I would.'
'Then you are praying in your own name! You think I hear you because of your holiness. You think I am more inclined to listen to you if you hae done a lot of good works. You are approaching Me in your own unworthy name. If you had prayed for eight hours today and read the Bible on your kenes fo reight hours and had led fifty people to Christ, you would have no more right to pray then than you do now!'
I looked down at the floor of the throne room and saw that it was sprinkled, not with the sweat of my good works, but with the blood of His sacrifice. (Dunn, p. 47)
Weakness, fear, and trembling. Not a bad place to be! If that's where you find yourself today, draw close to God and let Him teach you what both the Apostle Paul and Pastor Ronald Dunn learned ... the ministry you are preparing for is about His power. Your adequacy is from Him (2 Cor. 3:6). Having the treasure of the Holy Spirit in your jars of clay (2 Cor. 4:7) shows that the power is His, and not yours.
May He be glorified today in your weakness.