Would you call yourself a prayerful Christian?
How much of your time do you give to prayer daily?
Do you enjoy praying?
Questions like these can be difficult to answer because honest answers might prove to be painful as we quietly hope that no one is really supposed to enjoy praying.
The reality is that prayer is a treasure of the Christian life, but like many treasures, it often isn’t sought after because the path leading to it is too difficult.
Fortunately, prayer is worth the effort. And E. M. Bounds is ready to urge us toward a deeper life of prayer.
Bounds’ book is largely focused on prayer and the pastorate. He argues throughout that great preachers must be men great in prayer, sternly warning against pastors who preach without a desperate reliance upon God. He calls these dead sermon, preached by dead men. Without God’s strength, the pastor can do nothing for the Kingdom of God, and without prayer, the preacher will not find God’s strength.
A great point of conviction between Bounds and myself is his insistence upon spending much time in prayer. Of course, he emphasizes that time spent in prayer is not a direct indicator of the prayer’s value. Short prayers are often required and are just as pleasing to God. However, if we truly treasure being made children of God in Christ, why would we not long to spend much time with our Father in prayer? Bounds concludes that if our faith does not cause us to desire prayer, “then our faith is of a feeble and surface type.”
If I could summarize Bounds’ ultimate goal with this book, I would suggest that it is to stir up our desires and affections for being alone with God in prayer.
The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.
The preaching man is to be a praying man. Prayer is the preacher’s mightiest weapon. An almighty force in itself, it gives life and force to all. The real sermon is made in the closet. The man—God’s man—is made in the closet. His life and his profoundest convictions were born in his secret communion with God. The burdened and tearful agony of his spirit, his weightiest and sweetest messages were got when alone with God. Prayer makes the man; prayer makes the preacher; prayer makes the pastor.
We have emphasized sermon-preparation until we have lost sight of the important thing to be prepared—the heart. A prepared heart is much better than a prepared sermon. A prepared heart will make a prepared sermon.
Who should read it?
As stated in the summary, pastors appear to be the target audience for this book, and he certainly succeeds on that front. Power Through Prayer has become my first recommended reading for anyone who feels called by God to the pastorate.
But it is not a book for pastors alone. All followers of Christ are called to be faithful men and women of prayer, and the final few chapters, in particular, dive into the importance of churches being composed of prayerful people.
Why should I read it?
Too many Christians think far too little about prayer. We give a few minutes to it in the morning, before bed, and before most meals. Bounds notes, “We are not a generation of praying saints. Non-praying saints are a beggarly gang of saints who have neither the ardor nor the beauty nor the power of saints.” This is because if we are failing to see the beauty of prayer, we fail to see the beauty of God. Prayer is a marvelous privilege that was bought for us by Christ’s death and resurrection. By His atoning blood, we are able to come near to God, who spoke galaxies into existence and created quantum mechanics, calling Him our Father. We should not pray out of obligation; rather, we ought to long for prayer out of our heart’s well of thanksgiving.
There are certainly better books worth reading on the mechanics or theology of prayer. But I have found no book greater than Power Through Prayer for passionately pleading for our hearts to desire being with our Father in prayer.