Tag Archives: E. M. Bounds (1835-1913)

Review: Purpose in Prayer

Rating: ★★★★★

Author: E. M. Bounds (1835-1913) was a clergyman in the Methodist Episcopal Church South and held a pastorate in Franklin, Tennessee. During his time in Tennessee, he led a spiritual revival and eventually began an itinerant ministry. He only published two books during his lifetime, but nine others were arranged from manuscripts and published after his death—most of them on prayer. He spent three hours a day in prayer and emphasizes a life of prayer as the one essential of the Christian life.

Overview:

Purpose in Prayer (1914) is a compilation of E. M. Bounds’ writings on prayer, with exhortations. If you enjoyed Power Through Prayer, I would recommend this as the next follow-up. Homer Hodge, the editor, calls Purpose in Prayer the companion volume to Power through Prayer. It was published the year after Bounds died.

The theological background in this book is a development on Wesleyan understandings of prayer. The first chapter bears the title, “God Shapes the World by Prayer.” This is a theme that was developed by Wesley himself.

This book contains strong medicine against fatalism and complacency. Bounds, like Wesley, sees our prayer as effecting real change in the history of the world. Some events only become possible through prayer. Prayer is not trivial; it is not just something ordained before an already-ordained event, having no power of decision in it. It creates new possibilities. There is purpose in prayer.

Some reviewers complain that Bounds doesn’t provide enough biblical backing for his assertions about prayer. In my opinion, that probably shows that they were expecting a theology book, which this is not. Moreover, Bounds does provide plenty of biblical grounding for purpose in prayer, but this is secondary to the goal of the book; his classic books are written to inspire you to pray, not to convince you of his specific theory of prayer.

I don’t recommend reading this book in a compilation (if you have a choice) because I think the compilation obscures the unity of theme that is found in this book, apart from his other books.

Read:

Like all of E. M. Bounds’ books, Purpose in Prayer is available for free in PDF format on the Internet Archive.

Similar:

If you enjoy Bounds’ books on prayer, you might enjoy Praying Clear Through by W. J. Harney. It is written in a very similar theological stream.

Quotes:

“I think Christians fail so often to get answers to their prayers because they do not wait long enough on God. They just drop down and say a few words, and then jump up and forget it and expect God to answer them. Such praying always reminds me of the small boy ringing his neighbor’s door-bell, and then running away as fast as he can go.”

Review: The Resurrection (E. M. Bounds)

Rating: ★★★★

Alternate title: The Ineffable Glory: Thoughts on the Resurrection (1921)

Who: E. M. Bounds (1835-1913) was a chaplain in the Confederate Army and held a pastorate in Franklin, Tennessee. During his time in Tennessee, he led a spiritual revival and eventually began an itinerant ministry. He only published two books during his lifetime (The Resurrection (1907) being one of them), but nine others were arranged from manuscripts and published after his death—most of them on prayer. He spent three hours a day in prayer and emphasizes a life of prayer as the one essential of the Christian life.

Overview: The Resurrection is not about the Resurrection of Christ, as readers might expect, but about the bodily resurrection of the dead at the end of time, which is hinted at in the Old Testament but confirmed and prefigured in Christ’s resurrection. This important Scriptural topic is often neglected but provides a wealth of understanding and comfort for believers.

Meat: Bounds shines here as an expositor of the Word in a way not seen in his books on prayer. He writes in the same poetic, forceful style used in his beloved books on prayer. He defends the bodily resurrection of Christ, and of the dead in Christ, mostly on theological grounds within an assumption of biblical authority. This is meant to arm believers against liberal arguments current in his day (for instance, Swedenborgianism) which sought to deny the bodily resurrection and spiritualize the afterlife.

Bounds handles key Scriptures, especially 1 Corinthians 15, by expositing, comparing scripture to scripture, and giving key quotes from commentators.

For those wanting a biblical view of the afterlife, I would point out this little book by Bounds and another title similar in length and content called The Christian After Death by Robert Ervin Hough.

Bones: Especially towards the end of the book, Bounds has a theological axe to grind against the modernism of the day. He loses his biblical thread somewhat in his passion to defend the faith. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend this book as a whole for its unique subject matter and accessibility.

Quotes: 

“The deathless nature of the soul has been taught in the philosophies of earth, pagan and Christian, but the resurrection of the body is distinctively a Christian doctrine. It belongs to the revelation of God’s Word. It is found in the Bible, and nowhere else.” (loc. 86)

“The resurrection of the same bodies which we put in the grave is the doctrine which pervades the Bible through and through.” (loc. 572)

“With another sweep of that terrible scimitar He broke death’s scepter, smashed his crown, captured his keys, then plunging through the ashes of damnation and lunging on the gates of hell, tore them from their sockets, cutting the bars of iron in pieces and ascending the throne of his imperial majesty the devil, He hurled him into the burning marl and sulphurous flame, then placing His right foot upon the neck of the devil and His left foot upon the jaws of death, He lifted his hand to heaven and shouted through the gloom of eternal night ‘I am He that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive forevermore and have the keys of death and hell.'” (loc. 1168)

Review: Power through Prayer

Rating: ★★★★★

Who: E. M. Bounds was a chaplain in the Confederate Army and held a pastorate in Franklin, Tennessee. During his time in Tennessee, he led a spiritual revival and eventually began an itinerant ministry. He only published two books during his lifetime, but nine others were arranged from manuscripts and published after his death—most of them on prayer. He spent three hours a day in prayer and emphasizes a life of prayer as the one essential of the Christian life.

Overview:

First printed under the title Preacher and Prayer (1907), E. M. Bounds’ Power through Prayer is a modern classic and the best book we have found on prayer. I hesitate to call it a “favorite” because the book cannot be perused on a whim. All of Bounds’ books drip with spiritual imperative.

All of Bounds’ books are available cheaply as paperbacks, in numerous (and monstrous) nine-book compilations, as ebooks, or in PDF form (free). Most are also available as audiobooks.

Meat:

This book deserves six out of five stars, and it has lost nothing in a hundred years of printing. I tell my friends that other books on prayer make you wonder or ponder about prayer; Bounds’ books make you run to your prayer closet. He holds up prayer in its true relation, as the key mark of a true Christian, the greatest factor in successful ministry, and the first priority of the life of devotion.

Bones:

Power through Prayer is actually a later expansion of Preacher and Prayer, which was published during his lifetime. As the earlier title made clear, many of the chapters focus on the preacher’s responsibility in prayer. This could distract some believers, but does not detract from the book’s force or meaning.

Quotes:

“Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.” (ch. 1)

“Crucified preaching only can give life. Crucified preaching can come only from a crucified man.” (ch. 2)

“Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still. He will never talk well and with real success to men for God who has not learned how to talk to God for men.” (ch. 4)

“There is no real prayer without devotion, no devotion without prayer.” (ch. 10)

Related: Purpose in Prayer, The Necessity of PrayerThe Possibilities of Prayer, etc.