Power Through Prayer
by Edward M. Bounds 1835-1913
Power Through Prayer has been hailed by many to be a “truly great masterpiece on the theme of prayer.” This book has reached beyond its own time. For generations it has inspired godly men and women to recognize the need for a life fully surrendered to genuine, Holy Spirit-inspired, fervent prayer. Since it is written in a revivalistic preaching style like that of Wesley, Tozer or Ravenhill, you will feel more as if you have been to a revival meeting than simply reading from the pages of a book. It is one of those books that one could read many times and still gain fresh exhortation and inspiration each time you read it. I am convinced that if we, our families and our churches, could take hold of the Biblical truths declared in this book and bring prayer back to the place it deserves, we would find in prayer a treasure so great that living without it would be insufferable.
The book was originally addressed to preachers and ministers. Anyone, however, who desires to be a channel of God’s grace and a follower of His will (whether that be in witnessing at work, preparing devotions at home or organizing a busy homeschool schedule), will find this book a real encouragement and challenge. As busy as our lives may seem and as tempting as it may be to cheapen the place of prayer, Bounds argues that it is prayer that will put the other things of daily life in order. He states:
Praying gives sense, brings wisdom, broadens and strengthens the mind. The closet is a perfect schoolteacher and schoolhouse for the preacher. Thought is not only brightened and clarified in prayer, but thought is born in prayer. We can learn more in an hour praying, when praying indeed, than from many hours in the study. Books are in the closet which can be found and read nowhere else. Revelations are made in the closet which are made nowhere else.
The book starts with a cry for the desperate need for godly, praying men. It is written in a time when people sat huddled together on homemade wooden pews and the average church didn’t even have light bulbs. Yet Bounds was concerned that the church was already selling out to modern innovations. He was afraid that the church was losing its dependence on real man-to-God contact and relying instead on new designs and inventions. He writes:
What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.
With keen insight Bounds digs up the possible hidden motives and pitfalls common to the Christian walk. He also addresses such issues as our sufficiency in Christ, the dangers of dead orthodoxy and the essentialness of prayer to all parts of our life and ministry. He sees a life and ministry without prayer to be death. Early in the book he gives some pretty sobering considerations on that:
Preaching which kills is prayerless preaching. Without prayer the preacher creates death, and not life. The preacher who is feeble in prayer is feeble in life-giving forces. The preacher who has retired prayer as a conspicuous and largely prevailing element in his own character has shorn his preaching of its distinctive life-giving power.
One of his subjects that probably pierced my heart the most was his admonishment concerning the amount of time that should be put into prayer. He says:
God’s acquaintance is not made by pop calls. God does not bestow His gifts on the casual or hasty comers and goers. Much with God alone is the secret of knowing Him and of influence with Him. He yields to the persistency of a faith that knows Him. He bestows His richest gifts upon those who declare their desire for and appreciation of those gifts by the constancy as well as earnestness of their importunity. Christ, who in this as well as other things is our Example, spent many whole nights in prayer…We would not have any think that the value of their prayers is to be measured by the clock, but our purpose is to impress on our minds the necessity of being much alone with God; and that if this feature has not been produced by our faith, then our faith is of a feeble and surface type.
Later chapters include subjects such as examples of praying men, the preparation of the heart and the beseeching of God for His holy unction and power. With God-fearing reverence throughout the book, he reminds us that the ultimate need for God’s blessing and unction is so that we might give it back to others by ministering to the lost and to our next generation. In a quote about the goal of the minister he says:
The preacher must throw himself, with all the abandon of a perfect, self-emptying faith and a self-consuming zeal, into his work for the salvation of men. Hearty, heroic, compassionate, fearless martyrs must the men be who take hold of and shape a generation for God. If they be timid time servers, place seekers, if they be men pleasers or men fearers, if their faith has a weak hold on God or his Word, if their denial be broken by any phase of self or the world, they cannot take hold of the Church nor the world for God.
The book is small and put into twenty short chapters. It could be read through fairly easily in one setting. However, I would recommend reading it slowly and really pondering the challenges he presents. I hope that many will get a chance to read this book and that all of us would experience true Power Through Prayer.
This book is no longer copyrighted, so it can be purchased from many different publishers in different forms and collections. It can be downloaded or viewed free on the Internet at http://www.ccel.org/index/classics.html.
This book is available from:
Home Fire Publishers
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