“The Force That Shapes the World”
by E. M. Bounds in Purpose in Prayer
This week’s blog is a chapter taken from E.M. Bounds book Purpose in Prayer. E. M. Bounds was born on August 15, 1835. Bounds was a pastor in the Methodist Episcopal Church in the late 1800’s and became the editor for the Christian Advocate, the weekly paper for the Methodist Episcopal denomination in the South. He was passionate about prayer, believing in it’s power and teaching about the urgent need for it in the life of the believer. His writings are now public domain and can be found through various websites. However, you can also purchase his works in print form from Amazon and other sources.
“My creed leads me to think that prayer is efficacious, and surely a day’s asking God to overrule all events for good is not lost.” -James Gilmour
The prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock in heaven by which Christ carries on His great work upon the earth. Great throes and mighty convulsions in the world have come about as a result of these prayers. The earth is changed, revolutionized; angels move on more powerful, more rapid wings; and God’s policy is shaped when the prayers of His people are more numerous and more efficient.
The most important lesson we can learn is how to pray. Indeed, we must pray so that our prayers take hold of God. The man who has done the most and the best praying is the most immortal, because prayers do not die. Perhaps the lips that uttered them are closed in death, or the heart that felt them may have each ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them. Prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them--outlive a generation, outlive in age, outlive a world.
Prayer is no fitful, short-lived thing. It is no voice crying unheard and unheeded in the silence. It is a voice that goes into God’s ear, and it lives as long as God’s ear is open to holy pleas, as long as God’s heart is alive to holy things.
The mightiest successes that come to God’s cause are created and carried on by prayer and God’s day of power. When God’s church comes into its mightiest inheritance of the mightiest faith and mightiest prayer, the angelic days of powerful activity occur. God’s conquering days are when the Saints have given themselves to mightiest prayer. The life of the church is the highest life, and its office is to pray. Its prayer life is the highest life, the most fragrant, the most conspicuous. When God’s house on earth is a house of prayer, then God’s house in heaven is busy and powerful in its plans and movements. “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56 :7), says our God. Then, His earthly armies are clothed with the triumphs and spoils of victory, and His enemies are defeated on every hand.
God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world, the better the world will be and the mightier the forces against evil everywhere. Prayer, in one phase of its operation, is a disinfectant and a preventative. It purifies the air; it destroys the contagion of
evil. The very life and prosperity of God’s cause--even its very existence--depend on prayer. And the advance and triumph of His cause depend on one thing: that we asked of Him. The Lord has issued His decree, immutable and eternal, in which we find the great condition of prayer: “I will tell of the decree of the Lord… Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2:7-9)
Ask of me. That is the condition-God desires a praying people, willing and obedient. Under this universal and simple promise, men and women of old laid themselves out before God. They prayed, and God answered their prayers. Thus, the cause of God was kept alive in the world by the flame of their praying. The second Psalm contains the divine description of the establishment of God’s cause through Jesus Christ. All inferior dispensations have merged in the enthronement of Jesus Christ. In the following passage, God declares the enthronement of His Son: “ ‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill’. I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you.’ ” (Psalm 2:6-7)
All the nations are incensed with bitter hatred against His cause, but God is described as laughing at their enfeebled hate: “Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?… He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision” (Psalm 2:1,4). Prayer puts God in full force in the world. To a prayerful man, God is present in realized force. The man who has prayed many acceptable prayers has done the truest and greatest service to the incoming generation. To a prayerful church, God is present in glorious power. The prayers of God’s saints strengthen the unborn generation against the desolate waves of sin and evil. Woe to the generation of sons who find their own censers empty of the rich incense of prayer, whose fathers have been too busy or too unbelieving to pray, and who have inexpressible perils and untold consequences for their heritage! They whose fathers and mothers have left them a wealthy legacy of prayer are very fortunate, indeed.
Prayer is God’s settled and singular condition to move ahead his Son’s kingdom. Therefore, the believer who is the most highly skilled in prayer will do the most for God. Men are to pray-- to pray for the advance of God’s cause. The one who can wield the power of prayer is the strong one, the holy one, in Christ kingdom. He is one of God’s heroes, God’s saints, God’s servants, God’s agents. “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). The strongest one in Christ’s kingdom is he who can nock the best, and the secret of success in Christ’s kingdom is the ability to pray.