Excerpts from Purpose in Prayer by E.M. Bounds (1980)
EDWARD MCKENDREE BOUNDS was born in Shelby County, Missouri, August 15, 1835, and died August 24, 1913, in Washington, Georgia. After serving several pastorates, he became the editor of the St. Louis Christian Advocate. He was a forceful writer and a very deep thinker. He spent the last seventeen years of his life with his family in Washington, Georgia. Most of the time he was reading, writing and praying. He rose at four A.M. each day for many years and was indefatigable in his study of the Bible. His writings were read by thousands of people and were in demand by the church people of every Protestant denomination.
Prayer became a settled and only condition to move His Son’s Kingdom. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened” (Lk 11:9). The strongest one in Christ’s Kingdom is he who is the best knocker. The secret of success in Christ’s Kingdom is the ability to pray. The one who can wield the power of prayer is the strong one, the holy one in Christ’s Kingdom. The most important lesson we can learn is how to pray.
MORE PRAYING and better is the secret of the whole matter. More time for prayer, more relish and preparation to meet God, to commune with God through Christ—this has in it the whole of the matter. Our manner and matter of praying ill become us. The attitude and relationship of God and the Son are the eternal relationship of Father and Son, of asking and giving—the Son always asking, the Father always giving:
Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance,
And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
When we calmly reflect upon the fact that the progress of our Lord’s Kingdom is dependent upon prayer, it is sad to think that we give so little time to the holy exercise. Everything depends upon prayer, and yet we neglect it not only to our own spiritual hurt but also to the delay and injury of our Lord’s cause upon earth. The forces of good and evil are contending for the world. If we would, we could add to the conquering power of the army of righteousness, and yet our lips are sealed, our hands hang listlessly by our side, and we jeopardize the very cause in which we profess to be deeply interested by holding back from the prayer chamber.
But not all praying is praying. The driving power, the conquering force, in God’s cause is God Himself. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great things, and difficult, which thou knowest not” (Jer 33:3) is God’s challenge to prayer. Prayer puts God in full force into God’s work. “Ask me of the things that are to come: concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands, command ye me”—God’s carte blanche to prayer. Faith is only omnipotent when on its knees, and its outstretched hands take hold of God, then it draws to the utmost of God’s capacity; for only a praying faith can get God’s “all things whatsoever.”
Our paucity in results, the cause of all leanness, is solved by the apostle James: “Ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it on your pleasures” (Ja 4:2-3).
IT WAS SAID of the late C. H. Spurgeon that he glided from laughter to prayer with the naturalness of one who lived in both elements. With him the habit of prayer was free and unfettered. His life was not divided into compartments, the one shut off from the other with a rigid exclusiveness that barred all intercommunication. He lived in constant fellowship with his Father in heaven. He was ever in touch with God, and thus it was as natural for him to pray as it was for him to breathe.
That is the attitude with regard to prayer that ought to mark every child of God. There are, and there ought to be, stated seasons of communion with God when, everything else shut out, we come into His presence to talk to Him and to let Him speak to us; and out of such seasons springs that beautiful habit of prayer that weaves a golden bond between earth and heaven. Without such stated seasons the habit of prayer can never be formed; without them there is no nourishment for the spiritual life. By means of them the soul is lifted into a new atmosphere, the atmosphere of the heavenly city in which it is easy to open the heart to God and to speak with Him as friend speaks with friend.
Thus, in every circumstance of life, prayer is the most natural outpouring of the soul, the unhindered turning to God for communion and direction. Whether in sorrow or in joy, in defeat or in victory, in health or in weakness, in calamity or in success, the heart leaps to meet God.