Theology Thursday: The Power of a Purposeful Prayer Life
There are certain activities in the life of a follower of Christ that many would consider essentials for sustaining relationship with God and ensuring spiritual growth and development. One of these pursuits is prayer. In fact, prayer is a standard and expected practice in the life of a believer. After all, it is conversation with God and the catalyst for divine intervention in one’s own life and on behalf of others through the activity of intercession. E.M. (Edward McKendree) Bounds, one of the great prayer warriors of the nineteenth century, believed prayer was a powerful force that honored God and activated his presence in our struggles. Prayer is an invitation to God for his divine intervention into the affairs of life.1
In addition to his passion for prayer and writing nine books on the subject, Bounds was also a lawyer, chaplain and pastor. Though he died over fifty years before I was born, he taught me much about prayer and because of that I am forever changed and deeply grateful. His insights formed and inspired my understanding of prayer and its importance in growing in one’s relationship with God. His life example and practical teachings equipped me to develop a prayer life that was intentional in purpose, enduring in practice and passionate in delivery.
In This Article:
Intentional in Purpose
Bounds believed that prayer was a catalyst for engaging fellowship and communion with God and key to forming one’s soul into the image of God.2 His insights, and much of his writings, instilled in me an understanding that through prayer one became not only connected to God, but also conformed more perfectly in his image. It is through the intentional practice of prayer, in all its forms, that believers can access the throne of God for their own needs and intercede in the life of others. Awareness of the power of prayer is encouraging, inspiring, and works as a catalyst to pray more (or at least it should).
Planning the direction of one’s prayers is something to consider. This brings intentionality and provides clarity to prayer times. Organization of prayer in my life consists of a prayer journal with lists of needs for myself and others as well as the inclusion of dates and ways God has met the need. When specific prayers are spoken to God, it provides the opportunity to more clearly see when the answer has come from God. Ambiguity has no place in a purposeful prayer life.
Enduring in Practice
One statement regarding the activity of prayer that Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” (Matt. 7:7, ESV). In the original language this could better be rendered ask, and keep on asking; seek, and keep on seeking; knock, and keep on knocking, denoting continuous activity. This is also confirmed by Paul’s words to the church at Thessalonica when he encouraged them to, “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thess. 5:17). In other words, a rich and enduring prayer life should be evident practice for a believer.
In my life, it is an awareness of the presence of God and a continual connection with that presence. Because of this, I often find myself offering prayers when I am driving, shopping, working and otherwise engaged in the everyday activities of life. In engaging in conversation with God, I am convinced that he is near and attentive to my words. According to Bounds, prayers aim is to gain the attention of God’s ear,1 and through continual and sustained supplication, we can be assured that God is listening. This provides great comfort and motivation to pray.
Passionate in Delivery
Bounds’ words and example remind me that true devotion is the best environment for effective prayer,2 and devotedness is best expressed with emotion and enthusiasm. Real commitment must impact the whole of a person — intellect, emotion and activity — and intentional and enduring prayer can be nothing less than passionate. E. M. Bounds is known to have dedicated the hours of 4 am to 7 am each morning to prayer and during those hours he offered up passionate pleas to God for the salvation of lost souls. Bounds was a learned and loving pastor, and he was convinced of the transformative power of prayer offered from a heart full of the knowledge of God’s love and engaged in authentic relationship with the Father and his community.2
Promised His Presence
Bounds’ many writings as well as godly example inspire me to grow as a Christ follower and to intentionally develop a practice of passionate, enduring and intentional prayer. I am convinced that through this practice I have become more like Jesus, and I have seen my prayers for others answered in miraculous ways. This assures me that my voice is known in Heaven and God is not only aware of my cries, but he is also concerned and caring toward my needs. How wonderful to know the Father’s heart and be filled with his amazing grace and love.
I am eternally grateful for the life and ministry of E.M. Bounds. His faithfulness to the Lord is evident and his obedience to the call of God to prayer has provided a rich and enduring legacy for generations. I am thankful that years ago as a new believer, unlearned in the practice of prayer, Bounds’ books became my teacher, and his evident passion became my inspiration to develop an intentional practice of enduring and passionate communion with God. Bounds believed that prayer resided as a fire in the soul of committed believers that beckoned God’s attention and bestowed God’s grace and provision.2
I am thankful for the igniting of passion for prayer through his teachings and I am convinced it is now the rich well from which I can drink in the goodness of God and share his love with others. What a true gift the legacy of E. M. Bounds has been to the prayer life of many believers.
Do you want to further explore the powerful influences of our faith? The theology and ministry programs offered by GCU’s College of Theology can provide you with Christ-centered instruction to guide you on your mission. Read more Theology Thursday and fill out the form on this page to learn more.
1 Bounds, E. M. (n.d.). Prayer Quotes-E.M. Bounds. Prayer Coach. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
2 Bounds, E. M. (2020, September 1). Power Through Prayer: The Life and Writings of E.M. Bounds. Living by Design. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
Approved by the faculty of the College of Theology on May 5, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.
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