I’ve been reading, what is becoming my favorite book on prayer. The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer is a collection of books, written by Edward McKendree Bounds, of which only two were printed in his lifetime (1835-1913). I’m still reading the first book, The Necessity of Prayer.
From the book:
We ought to pray. The “ought” comes in, in order that both desire and expression be cultivated. God’s Word commands it. Our judgment tells us we ought to pray—to pray whether we feel like it or not—and not to allow our feelings to determine our habits of prayer. In such circumstance, we ought to pray for the desire to pray; for such a desire is God-given and heaven-born. We should pray for desire; then, when desire has been given, we should pray according to its dictates. Lack of spiritual desire should grieve us, and lead us to lament its absence, to seek earnestly for its bestowal, so that our praying, henceforth, should be an expression of “the soul’s sincere desire.”
A sense of need creates or should create, earnest desire. The stronger the sense of need, before God, the greater should be the desire, the more earnest the praying. The “poor in spirit” are eminently competent to pray.
Hunger is an active sense of physical need. It prompts the request for bread. In like manner, the inward consciousness of spiritual need creates desire, and desire breaks forth in prayer. Desire is an inward longing for something of which we are not possessed, of which we stand in need—something which God has promised, and which may be secured by an earnest supplication of his throne of grace.
Spiritual desire, carried to a higher degree, is the evidence of the new birth. It is born in the renewed soul:
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the
word, that ye may grow thereby.
Holy desire is much helped by devout contemplation. Meditation on our spiritual need, and on God’s readiness and ability to correct it, aids desire to grow. Serious thought engaged in before praying, increases desire, makes it more insistent, and tends to save us from the menace of private prayer—wandering thought. We fail much more in desire, than in its outward expression. We retain the form, while the inner life fades and almost dies.
The introduction includes interesting biographical information on Bounds including his time spent as a Confederate Chaplain in the Third Missouri Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the Missouri Fifth Infantry. It concludes with a Claude Chilton quote about these books:
These books are unfailing wells for a lifetime of spiritual water-drawing. They are hidden treasures, wrought in the darkness of dawn and the heat of the noon on the anvil of experience, and beaten into wondrous form by the mighty stroke of the divine. They are living voices whereby he, being dead, yet speaketh!