I recently read a volume of work by E. M. Bounds on prayer entitled “Necessity of Prayer”. I encourage you to take the time to read over some of it. The work is lengthy, but well worth the effort.
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The piece is at once revealing, convicting, inspiring, and telling. It is a work on true prayer that, upon initial encounter, is deeper than other books concerning the same. It is revealing in the fact that Bounds covers much theological ground in handling the subject of prayer. This task in itself reveals the mystery and deepness of true biblical prayer. Bounds discusses faith, perseverance, righteous living, the house of God and more – all centered around a Christian’s prayer life. It is convicting, as we will see in a moment, in that the truth that he uncovers applies instantly to any Christian reading it who has any spiritual pulse at all. It is also convicting to read that a mere man writes (and presumably lived) this way. To have a full understanding of these things he addresses means that he has worked them out himself in the battlefield that is the Christian life. This is not a theoretical thesis from a fresh grad student – this volume is wisdom in print. It is inspiring, however, in that Bounds does not leave us destitute on the roadside along his straight path to righteousness. He stops and picks us up and points the way, so that we too can experience this awesome prayer life he speaks to us of. Lastly, it is telling in that a majority of the evangelical Christian population today would not comprehend the content of Mr. Bound’s work, much less be inspired to attain to it, having understood its biblical relevance.
There is too much information to cover in detail, or even at a distance, for that matter. So, I will be selective. I trust that the material I provide will inspire you to read or re-read the work, if you have already done so. In the first section of the paper, Bounds tackles the notion of faith and prayer, and their relation.
When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are, in a measure, shutting tomorrow out of our prayer. We do not live in tomorrow but in today.”
His assertion here is that the biblical teaching is to attend to things of today and not to worry about what will happen tomorrow. If we spend time praying for tomorrow’s needs today, and God knows of our need and was going to provide when the time came, our prayers were in essence “unnecessary and redundant”. Food for thought.
Later in the volume, Bounds addresses issue of sincerity in prayer. He speaks specifically of desire and its relation to our prayers:
Desire goes before prayer, and by it, created and intensified. Prayer is the oral expression of desire. If prayer is asking God for something, then prayer must be expressed. Prayer comes out into the open. Desire is silent. Prayer is heard; desire, unheard. The deeper the desire, the stronger the prayer. Without desire, prayer is a meaningless mumble of words.
The truth here is self-evident for any Christian: prayer without sincerity is dead. We ask God for what we have need of, and those needs come from our desires for our lives. This work by E. M. Bounds is full of similar spiritual truths and insights. It is bolstered by the fact that he references Scripture as his guide throughout. Sadly, these truths and similar ones are the farthest thing from many of our minds for many of our days. We have become a generation focused on quick information, when the truths to be found, like those concerning prayer, require patience, long-suffering, and diligence.