I had never heard of Edward McKendree (E.M.) Bounds until he was quoted and referenced in a devotion recently published in Our Daily Bread. But from that moment I wanted to learn more.
Bounds was an obscure preacher of the mid 1800s to early 1900s who focused his life on prayer, would pray two to three hours every day, and wrote eight books on the subject. Why? Because prayer is everything.
And in our spirit we know that. That is why so many of us, each January 1, vow to build a stronger prayer life. We read books and look for recipes on how to be powerful prayer warriors. We want to know how to pray and what to pray for. We watch the movie The War Room over and over again. Often we do everything but pray.
I purchased The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer (yes, I bought a book), and I will share with you some of his thoughts throughout the upcoming year, because most of us ask this question: “'Do I really pray to God so that he hears me and answers my prayers? And do I truly pray unto God so that I get direct from God the things I ask of him?’ (21)”
Bounds believes that the most important job of a pastor is NOT to “merely induce [people] to join the church, nor merely to get them to do better. It is to get them to pray, to trust God, and to keep God ever before their eyes, that they may not sin against him" (21).
So let’s not wait until January 1 to renew our prayer life. Let’s not wait until we have that perfect formula for a prayer time. Let’s not set the daily prayer bar so high that we never achieve it. Let’s just start praying. As Bounds said in the first paragraph of the first chapter of his first book:
“Prayer is simply faith (13).”
Then a few paragraphs later he reminds us that “Prayer projects faith on God, and God on the world. Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God (13).”
Let’s move God.