So this past Friday, I sat down and read Power Through Prayer by E.M. Bounds. Let's talk about it.
Edward McKendree Bounds lived from 1835 to 1913 and is known for writing 11 books, 9 of which are about prayer. Only 2 of those books were published while he was still living, and I'm not exactly clear on when Power Through Prayer was put into print. The only year in my copy says 1982 so that's what I'm going with.
This tiny little book is only 105 pages long and consists of 12 chapters. It took me less than 2 hours to read it. And I'm a slow reader.
To be brutally honest, I wasn't all that impressed with this book, and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I don't know if my expectations were too high going in, but I was definitely underwhelmed. Bounds says a lot of good things about prayer, but the writing is not very interesting or engaging and it seemed overly repetitive. Each chapter seemed to just reiterate the last.
I also was rubbed wrong by this seeming theme of God's dependence on man. Sentiments such as God's plan is to make much of man, or that God needs man to accomplish His purpose, or that God owed much to Paul turned me off. God's plan is to make much of Himself and His glory. God doesn't need anyone or anything other than Himself to accomplish His purpose, though He does choose to use flawed humanity. And God certainly doesn't owe anything to anyone--not even to Paul. Paul owed everything he was, everything he did, and everything he was saved from to God. Not the other way around. Ultimately, I don't think that's really what Bounds was trying to say. This book was written for preachers, and I think the point was that preachers must be men that God can use mightily by being men who seek after God wholeheartedly, but it didn't always come across that way. At least not to me.
I really enjoyed and was truly challenged by chapter 6 ("Great Men of Prayer"), chapter 7 ("Early Will I Seek Thee"), and chapter 12 ("What God Would Have"). In fact, if you picked up this book and only read chapter 12, it would be so worth it. I almost forgave everything else because chapter 12 was so good. (Way to end on a high note, E.M.) My favorite parts of this book were actually the quotes from other great preachers at the beginning of each chapter and throughout the rest of the book. I was challenged reading about how many hours these great men spent on their knees. I was convicted about my own laziness in not getting up early to pray. And I was reminded once again of how vital it is for me to pray for my own pastors.
One quote that particularly stood out to me was this:
"Praying is spiritual work, and human nature does not like taxing, spiritual work. Human nature wants to sail to heaven under a pleasant breeze, and a full, smooth sea. Prayer is humbling work. It abases intellect and pride, crucifies vainglory, and signals our spiritual bankruptcy. All these are hard for flesh and blood to bear. It is easier not to pray than to bear them...The little regard we give prayer is evident from the little time we spend in it."
Like I said, this book says a lot of good things about prayer. But I think it could have said everything it did in 5 chapters instead of 12. Some claim that this book is the greatest book on prayer ever written, but I think there must be something better out there.
Has anyone else read this one? What do you think?