E.M. Bounds

Recommendation:  5/5

Description of author:  Edward McKendree Bounds (1835-1913) was an American Methodist minister and devotional writer.  He also served as a Confederate captain during the Civil War.

Comments:  This book on prayer is usually awarded classic status by reviewers.  I would generally concur.  Written mainly for pastors, this little volume is the clarion call for pastors to be men of prayer.  In our fast-paced, hectic world, where much emphasis is placed on planning, scheming, organizing, managing, executing, and measuring, prayer is often neglected if not completely forgotten . . . even in the ministry.  E.M. Bounds 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 (p. 7).  He reminds us that no amount of natural talent, learning or sermon preparation can make up for the lack of the unction of the Holy Spirit that comes through prayer.  The preacher must be preeminently a man of prayer.  His heart must graduate in the school of prayer.  In the school of prayer only can the heart learn to preach.  No learning can make up for the failure to pray.  No earnestness, no diligence, no study, no gifts will supply its lack (p. 31).  The book is mainly inspirational in nature as opposed to instructional.  It is filled with quotes regarding prayer from famous preachers as well as anecdotes regarding their habits of prayer.  Luther, Spurgeon, McCheyne, Baxter, Payson, Rutherford, and Wesley are all referenced.  The weakness of the book is that it makes almost no reference to Scripture.   It is certainly not an exposition of the Biblical teaching on prayer.  When one is finished with the book, one is left with the overwhelming sense of the importance of prayer in the ministry.  And that is why this is such an important book and one that I read about every two years.