Prime the Pump

When I was growing up, I often spent weeks at a time at my grandparents’ house on the farm. We had to sometimes prime the pump to get the water. The pump house was just outside in the back yard. Years ago, I went by the old farm place. The house was gone, the chicken house was gone, but there was still evidence of the old pump.


Those who’ve been around wells know they can run dry and have to be dug again. Others know about the times when the pump is dry and you have to pour water to prime it and get the water flowing again.

Sometimes churches are like pumps. If we don’t have a reservoir of the Water of Life, we will run dry. If we don’t drink the Living Water and allow the Holy Spirit to rain down on us, we can dry out spiritually.

We often need to be primed. We get in a rut and need to bust out the ends or the rut becomes a grave. We can get so caught up in past successes that we forget to prepare for the future. We can run so hard that we have nothing left in the tank.

This is why we need to come apart and rest awhile. This is the purpose of spending time with the Father. This is why we should take notes on sermons, listen to solid teaching, study good books, and allow God to stretch us. Left to ourselves, we’ll dry out. Without a disciplined life, we’ll produce nothing.

The problem is not the Spirit or the Bible. The problem is internal. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to reign in us. We must allow the Word of God to speak to us. We should ask God to send people into our lives to stretch us.

Vance Havner used to walk in cemeteries to clear his head and get his creative juices flowing. He would borrow an old fishing stool from T. W. Wilson and go to a pond with this Bible, pen, and notebook and write. Sitting in solitude with the Savior, he was primed and ready to write.

I go to the mountains to prime my pump. I think better in the clear, fresh air of the mountains. I am motivated by the majesty of God around me. My reservoir fills up and my juices start flowing when I get away from the daily grind.

When I walk into “Beneath the Smoke” in Gatlinburg and see the majestic photography of my friend Ken Jenkins, I am reminded that God has revealed Himself in creation. That primes my pump to see God in the unexpected and the ordinary.

When I drive, I listen to music that leads me to worship God. Alone in my car, I can sing and not worry about what anyone thinks about my voice. Often song lyrics inspire me to think bigger and greater thoughts of God.

Songs, pictures, sermons and books often flood my life with thoughts that challenge me and keep me from drying out or settling for less than God’s best. My mind is renewed, and my heart is stirred.

Often times, revivals are primed by tears on an altar. At other times, it only takes a little kindling wood to bring fire from heaven. One life can fire up another. The problem is not the Sower or the seed, it’s the soil.

If God is not birthing in my vision a passion, growth, and a deeper understanding of grace, it’s not HIS fault. The problem is my soil is hard, rocky, and weed-infested. I need to pull out the weeds, break up the fallow ground, and water the seed so I can participate with God in the harvest.

It’s easy in the day-to-day routine to forget about God. We’re pressured by the need to answer email, return calls, make appointments, juggle schedules, and meet deadlines. There is always something pulling at us, calling for our attention. Usually it comes in the form of the temporary which distracts from the eternal.

When I allow sin or secondary issues to drive my life, I’m drinking from a broken cistern. In fact, the greater issue is the heart. Is my heart primed and ready to respond to God’s prompting? Am I, by my example, encouraging others to prime their pumps?

When we prepare for tomorrow, we allow the waters to continually flow. When we fail to prepare for tomorrow, we eventually dry out and have nothing to offer a lost and dying world. We must get before God to seek the mind and will of God. We must be primed so we can be used for His good pleasure. We must be prepared, so that through our lives the living waters can flow to others.

I believe any failure to prime your pump and leave something for those who are yet to come will eventually lead to a dry church, dusty Bibles, and dirty lives. When people come looking for water, let’s make absolutely sure that the well called “the church” is primed and ready to offer them Living Water. This is a corporate and an individual call. We’re all responsible to leave something behind in order to prime the pump of the future and get it going after we’re gone. If we want revival, if we want to reach the next generation, we’ll make sure the pump is primed and we have water to give to a thirsty world.

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