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5 Lessons about Prayer from E.M. Bounds

Although much of his writing was aimed at preachers, all Christians can can learn from his enthusiastic instruction on prayer.

Here are five of the most profound lessons I’ve learned about prayer by studying the words penned by E.M. Bounds more than a century ago.

1 – Preaching is not a performance; it is the outflow of a life dedicated to prayer.

Bounds was convinced that prayer was to be a pillar of the pastoral life. When he taught on the subject of prayer and the pulpit, he declared, “Prayer is the preacher’s mightiest weapon. The real sermon is made in the closet. Every preacher who does not make prayer a mighty factor in his own life and ministry is weak as a factor in God’s work.”

Practical takeaway: Authenticity and humility are key attributes of the prayer-filled life. If we want to make a difference during our time on earth, we must learn to invest ourselves in the practice of prayer.

2 – God doesn’t anoint plans; He anoints people—people of prayer!

Bounds writes, “the true ministry is God-touched, God-enabled, and God-made.” He goes on to say, “Prayer lies at the root of all personal godliness.”

Practical takeaway: The best-laid plans cannot withstand the devastating consequence of poor moral character. If you want to have an effective ministry, you must commit to the process of becoming an effective minister.

3 – The heart of our time (the best of our time) must be given to prayer.

Prayer is not to be an afterthought. It is not to be used only “in case of emergency.” It is to be the priority of our lives. As Bounds says, “the closet first, the study and activities second, both study and activities freshened and made efficient by the closet.”

Practical takeaway:  Prayer is serious work and must be given a regular spot in our calendar. If you don’t prioritize time in prayer, don’t expect to have the power you need to live a fruitful life.

4 – No earthly ministry will have eternal impact without much prayer.

Prayer is the power source of the Christian life. When we fail to pray, we fail to invite the power of God into our life and ministry. Every facet of Christian ministry should be the outflowing of prayer.

Practical takeaway: Every facet of Christian ministry should be the outflowing of prayer. We may disagree on theology, but we must be unified in prayer.

5 – Endurance and fruitfulness in ministry are rooted in faithful prayer.

Bounds writes, “No man can do a great and enduring work for God who is not a man of prayer, and no man can be a man of prayer who does not give much time to praying.” If God is not our first thought in the morning, He will be an afterthought the rest of the day.

Practical takeaway: In the same way that Christ found strength in communion with God, so must we! Begin the day with prayer, and don’t stop praying until your work is complete.

More from EM Bounds | Support | STORE | Podcasts | PrayerMaking Peace with God – Before it’s too late | The Return of Christ

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