Profiles In The Faith: EM Bounds
“… No two things are more essential to a spirit-filled life than Bible-reading and secret prayer; no two things more helpful to growth in grace; to getting the largest joy out of a Christian life; toward establishing one in the ways of eternal peace. The neglect of these all-important duties presages leanness of soul, loss of joy, absence of peace, dryness of spirit, decay in all that pertains to spiritual life.” –E.M. Bounds
There are very few people outside of Scripture who have taught men more on the subject of prayer than E.M. Bounds (Edward McKendree Bounds). At age 19, Bounds was the young practicing lawyer in the state of Missouri. In the late 1850’s, a spiritual awakening that swept across the nation in would alter the course of Bounds’ life forever. He would leave his law practice and begin preparing for the ministry; in 1860 would be named the pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
The next few years would prove tough for the pastor of a congregation during the Civil War, especially one who stood so firmly against slavery. His leadership of a church would lead to his arrest and exile from Missouri by Union soldiers. In 1863, with no where to go Bounds served the Confederate Army as a chaplain tending to the wounded soldiers from the battle of Vicksburg, MS; Atlanta, GA; and Franklin, TN. As the soldiers moved into a city, Bounds would also enter the local church to preach revivals while ministering to war-torn families and societies. During those days of the Civil War, Bounds grew to understand the depth and necessity of a prayer. Daily he would rise at 4:00am and spend three hours of uninterrupted time in fellowship with God. A habit he would practice until his death in 1913.
After being imprisoned twice by the Union Army and serving in the Civil War, Bounds went back to pastoring churches in the South with a deep passion for the church to be awaken through revival and the unbelieving to be saved. From St. Louis to his home in Washington, GA, Bounds was called upon to deliver messages of revival to the great churches. Yet his name remained unknown to most.
For the last 17 years of his life, Bounds committed his time to preaching and writing. Often writing for the Methodist paper, Bounds’ exposition of Scripture would penetrate the dullness of one’s devotional life. During this time he would write some of his most famous works The Necessity of Prayer and The Essentials of Prayer. He would eventually write 11 books in all while 9 of them deal with prayer. These books, most of which were printed long after his death have found their way to the bookshelves of pastors, laymen and students across the world.
“Revivals are among the charter rights of the Church . . . A revival means a heartbroken pastor. A revival means a church on its knees confessing its sins – the sins of the individual and of the Church – confessing the sins of the times and of the community.” –E. M. Bounds