Monday, September 08, 2008

Coming Back To Prayer

E.M. Bounds penned a wonderful and easy to read book called Power Through Prayer many years ago that I often find myself turning to when matters of prayerful diligence arise. There is a comfort in reading again the strong and wise words of a saint who fully grasped, as well as we mortals can, the powerfulness of our petitions in prayer. As I read through the last chapter of the book, the following passage struck a nerve in me and I feel compelled to record it here.

Where are the Christly leaders who can teach the modern saints how to pray and put them at it? Do we know we are raising up a prayerless set of saints? Where are the apostolic leaders who can put God's people to praying? Let them come to the front and do the work, and it will be the greatest work which can be done. An increase of educational facilities and a great increase of money force will be the direst curse to religion if they are not sanctified by more and better praying than we are doing. More praying will not come as a matter of course. The campaign for the twentieth or thirtieth century fund will not help our praying but hinder if we are not careful. Nothing but a specific effort from a praying leadership will avail. The chief ones must lead in the apostolic effort to radicate the vital importance and fact of prayer in the heart and life of the Church. None but praying leaders can have praying followers. Praying apostles will beget praying saints. A praying pulpit will beget praying pews. We do greatly need some body who can set the saints to this business of praying. 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. Who will restore this breach? The greatest will he be of reformers and apostles, who can set the Church to praying.

The richness of this simple extract demands contemplation, a reflection on what it means to lead a congregation or presbytery. How is it that supposed children of God, no longer children of wrath by nature, can consume their waking hours and minutes beating the skins of doctrine yet fail to grasp the essentialness of a prayer life. Whether excusing it through the poverty of cessationism or flippantly dismissing its importance as a matter we are simply told to do, the lack of prayer can have nothing but a profound and devastating effect on one’s spiritual condition. How are souls saved except preachers are sent and how can preachers sent to a mission field lack the effectual prayers of righteous men and women?

E.M. Bounds Power Through Prayer