Power Through Prayer

 

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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.

Summary

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.

Notable quotations

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.

 

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The Father’s Will

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:10b

 But it is a dangerous error, surely very widespread among Christians, to think that the heart can pray by itself. For then we confuse wishes, hopes, sighs, laments, rejoicing so—all of which the heart can do by itself—with prayer. And we confuse earth and heaven, man and God. Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart. It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, whether the heart is full or empty. No man can do that by himself. For that he needs Jesus Christ. /// Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible (p. 9-10)

Prayer is ultimately, as Bonhoeffer suggests, not about our own thoughts and wants but rather about submitting ourselves to the will of God. Because we know that God is infinite, eternal, and absolutely sovereign, why would we desire for our will to be done at all? Paul tells us clearly in Romans 8:26 that “we do not know what to pray for as we ought”. Thus, as we approach God in prayer, we must determine that His will is far more important than our own.

To this degree, when we pray for God’s will to be done, we should hold no pretense about the necessity of our prayers to accomplish the will of God. The LORD will be mighty to do as He wishes without the aid of anyone, so praying “your will be done” is not about helping God through our prayers. Rather, in praying for God’s will to be done, we are, in essence, submitting ourselves to His desires. We could very easily throw the words with me onto the end of the phrase: let your will be done with me. In this prayer, we place ourselves entirely at the discretion and the mercies of God.

This submission is a summation of Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Praying for God’s will is a sign that we trust God and are leaning upon His understanding rather than our own.

There is simply no better way to begin the day than by praying for God’s will to be done because we are aligning ourselves onto the winning side of all affairs. Or to say it like this: if God’s plan will be done, let us submit ourselves to it now. Let us throw ourselves at God’s mercy, asking Him to guide us in all things.


Meditate upon the will of God and your responsibility to do it.

Pray for God’s will to be done in your life, trusting Him with all your heart and not leaning on your own understanding.