J Walking

A friend gave me a book entitled The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer a few years ago. He gave it to me again last fall. I started reading a few weeks ago and have been blown away by it. You all may be familiar with it — or with him — already. He lived in the last half of the 19th Century and spent the last 20 years of his life praying from 4am to 7am every morning.

“Faith gives birth to prayer, and grows stronger, strikes deeper, rises higher, in the struggles and wrestling of mighty petitioning. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the assurance and realization of the inheritance of the saints. Faith, too, is humble and persevering. It can wait and pray; it can stay on its knees, or lie in the dust. Faith is the one great condition of prayer; the lack of it lies at the root of all poor praying, feeble praying, little praying, unanswered praying.”

“Faith grows by reading and meditating upon the Word of God [Jesus]. Most, and best of all, faith thrives in an atmosphere of prayer. It would be well, if all of us were to stop, and inquire personally of ourselves: ‘Have I faith in God? Have I real faith — faith which keeps me in perfect peace, about the things of earth and the things of heaven?’…’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?’”

“Trust is faith become absolute, ratified, consummated. …Trust is a conscious act, a fact of which we are sensible…. Trust sees God doing things here and now. Yea, more. It rises to a lofty eminence, and looking into the invisible and eternal, realizes that God has done things, and regards them as being already done. Trust brings eternity into the annals and happenings of time, transmutes the substance of hope into the reality of fruition, and changes promise into present possession. We know when we trust just as we know when we see, just as we are conscious of our sense of touch. Trust sees, receives, holds. Trust is its own witness.”

“The trust which inspires our prayer must be not only trust in the person of God, and of Christ, but in their ability and willingness to grant the thing prayed for. It is not only, ‘Trust, ye, in the Lord,’ but, also, ‘for in the Lord Jehovah, is everlasting strength. The trust which our Lord taught as a condition of effectual prayer, is not of the head but of the heart. It is trust which ‘doubteth not in his heart.’ Such trust has the divine assurance that it shall be honored with large and satisfying answers. The strong promise of our Lord brings faith down to the present, and counts on a present answer. …This is no easy condition. It is reached only after many a failure, after much praying, after many waitings, after much trial of faith. May our faith so increase until we realize and receive all the fullness there is in that name which guarnatees to do so much.”

“Desire is not merely a simple wish; it is a deep seated craving; an intense longing, for attainment. In the realm of spiritual affairs, it is an important adjunct to prayer. So important is it, that one might say, almost, that desire is an absolute essential of prayer. Desire precedes prayer, accompanies it, is followed by it. Desire goes before prayer, and by it, created and intensified. Prayer is the oral expression of desire…. Without desire, prayer is a meaningless mumble of words. Such perfunctory, formal praying, with no heart, no feeling, no real desire accompanying it, is to be shunned like a pestilence. its exercise is a waste of precious time, and from it, no real blessing accrues. And yet even if it be discovered that desire is honestly absent, we should pray, anyway. We ought to pray. The ‘ought’ comes in, in order that both desire and expression be cultivated. God’s Word commands it.”

“True prayer must be aflame. Christian life and character need to be all on fire. Lack of spiritual heat creates more infidelity than lack of faith. Not to be consumingly interested about the things of heaven is not to be interested in them at all. The fiery souls are those who conquer in the day of battle, from whom the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and who take it by force. The citadel of God is taken only by those who storm it in dreadful earnestness, who besiege it with fiery unabated zeal.”

“Desire is intense but narrow; it cannot spread itself over a wide area. It wants a few things, and wants them badly, so badly, that nothing but God’s willingness to answer, can bring it easement or content. Desire single-shots at its objective. there may be many things desired, but they are specifically and individually felt and expressed. …This then is the basis of prayer which compels an answer — that strong inward desire has entered into the spiritual appetite , and clamors to be satisfied. Alas for us! It is altogether too true and frequent, that our prayers operate in the arid region of a mere wish, or in the leafless areas of a memorized prayer…. Without desire there is no burden of soul, no sense of need, no ardency, no vision, no strength, no glow of faith. There is no mighty pressure, no holding on to God with a deathless despairing grasp — ‘I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.’ there is no utter self-abandonment as there was with Moses, when lost in the throes of a desperate, pertinacious, and all-consuming plea he cried, ‘Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book.’ Or as there was with John Knox when he pleaded, “Give me Scotland or I die!”

“Prayer, without fervor, stakes nothing on the issue, because it has nothing at stake. It comes with empty hands. Hands, too, which are listless, as well as empty, which have never learned the lesson of clinging to the cross.”

“Prayers must be red hot. It is the fervent prayer that is effectual and that availeth much.”

“Our Lord warns us against feeble praying. ‘Men ought always to pray.’ he declares, ‘and not to faint.’ That means, that we are to possess sufficient fervency to carry us through the severe and long periods of pleading prayer. Fire makes one alert and vigilant, and brings him off, more than a conqueror. The atmosphere about us is too heavily charged with resisting forces for limp or languid prayers to make headway. It takes heat, and fervency and meteoric fire, to push through, to the upper heavens, where God dwells with his saints, in light.”

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