E.M. Bounds wrote almost six hundred pages on prayer, but his basic principles are simple, and his first is “Prayer is simply faith" (13). Faith that God can do what we ask. For if we do not have faith that God
can do what we ask, then what is the point of asking? As Bounds says, “Faith gives birth to prayer . . .” (19).
Fortunately for us, our faith does not have to be very big to gain a foothold. Jesus in Luke 17:6, told his disciples that "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.” Faith, at its tiniest core, begins in the belief that if God so wills, He can do.
But many of us find ourselves in the shoes of the father of the possessed boy who told Jesus, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
And God does, for although He will work with our mustard-seed-size faith, His desire is that it take root and grow. Bounds claims that “faith is increased by exercise, by being put into use. It is nourished by sore trials (21).” The more we need God, the more we turn to Him, the more we see His answers to our prayers.
Bounds further states that “faith . . . grows stronger, strikes deeper, rises higher, in the struggles and wrestlings of mighty petitioning (19).” Prayer is hardest with those things that matter most, when our desires are strong, and our personal investment high. It is then that we experience the “struggles and wrestlings of mighty petitioning.”
Faith also grows through waiting. Bounds says that faith is often asked “to wait in patience before God, and is prepared for God’s seeming delays in answering prayer. Faith does not grow disheartened because prayer is not immediately honored; it takes God at his Word, and lets him take what time he chooses in fulfilling his purposes, and in carrying on his work (15) . . . Faith gathers strength by waiting and praying (15-16).”
So prayer and faith are in a symbiotic relationship. The two grow together.
“Faith grows by reading and meditating on the Word of God. Most, and best of all, faith thrives in an atmosphere of prayer (21).”
“Thus when we contemplate the great importance of prayer, we find faith standing immediately by its side (21).”
So let us not lose heart in our prayers. Let us grow our faith through our prayers and our prayers through our faith, and let us do as Bounds suggests:
“Pray on. Wait on. You cannot fail. If Christ delay, wait for him. In his own good time, he will come, and will not tarry (15).”
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The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer. Barker Books. 1990.