Prayer and Faith
This post begins a series covering E.M. Bounds’ book, “The Necessity of Prayer”. I am personally expecting great personal growth as I read and, more importantly, really dig in, cut apart, work with, and hopefully absorb, the material in this text.
Here are some highlights of things in this chapter that I found to be particularly key.
- Prayer IS Faith
- Only God can move mountains, but prayer and faith move God.
- Faith is the foundation on which other things are to be built
- The path to Godliness (2Peter) : Faith-> Virtue -> Knowledge -> Temperance -> Patience -> Godliness …. of all this, faith is the root, not works, nor gifts, nor virtue.
- Faith is kept alive by prayer, and every step taken–in the adding of grace to grace–is accompanied by prayer
- Faith is obedient, faith acts, yet, faith is called upon
- Obedience helps faith, and faith helps obedience
- Faith does not grow disheartened because prayer is not immediately honored. It accepts delay as the privilege to show its mettle.
- Delay is often the Test of faith, as well as the strength of faith.
- Faith gathers strength by waiting and praying.
- God may have to do many things, antecedent to giving the final Answer–Things which are essential to the prayor.
- Faith in Christ is the basis of all praying and working, and all praying is done in the name of Jesus Christ.
- If implicit obedience to Christ is the inspiration and force of every movement in my life, then He can safely commit the praying to my will and pledge himself, by an obligation as profound as his own nature that whatsoever is asked shall be granted.
- True prayers are born of present trials and present needs
- The present is ours, but the future belongs to God.
Wow! that is just a lot of Great Stuff! I’m expectant that the entire book is going to be like this. There are going to be so many things that could be addressed each week, that I’m not even going to try to cover it all.
So, where to start with this week? This is the first chapter in a book about the necessity of prayer. Why should we pray? Really? What’s the point of it all? Are we just mumbling at the sky, hoping our wishes get granted once in a while, or is there more to it than that?
Obviously, the author believes that there is quite a bit more to it, seeing as he wrote not only this book in particular, but nearly ten books on prayer. Some day I’ll write up a little bio on him, in between chapters. He’s an interesting fellow.
Also obvious, is that I believe that there is more to it than wish granting, or I’d not be wasting my own time here, putting down my own useless ramblings about words cast into the sky. No, I think that prayer is central to my faith, and, simultaneously, I recognize that I am not where I want to be with it. I want to improve. I want to grow, to take my prayers to the next level.
That said, lets cover some of the bullets above.
“Faith is the foundation on which other things are to be built” — On my own personal road toward Sanctification and Godliness, the root, the first step on my journey is going to be taken in simple faith. As “prayer is faith“, one of the ways I can continue on my path is to step out in prayer. But, what happens when the road gets rough, and I weary of the struggle? “Faith is kept alive by prayer, and every step taken is accompanied by prayer.”
The other major theme of this chapter was dealing with the delays in prayer. Often, a prayer is lifted up to heaven, and, it seems, there is no answer, no response, from the Throne. Whats going on? Whats the hold up? As it turns out, there are actually good reasons for these delays.
In particular, God may have certain plans for Himself, His Kingdom, or even you, which have components and requirements which might need some work getting into the proper alignment. Bounds recalls to us the story of Lazarus’ death, where it was known the man was ill, and prayers for his healing were brought directly to Jesus. But, for reasons of the Kingdom, and the Fathers’ Glory, Lazarus was allowed to die, so that the Christs’ authority over the grave would be made clear to all.
In another story, we were reminded of the time when Jacob prayed to God that his brother Esau would be pacified, and not wish to kill him any longer. As the story unfolds, we can see that this prayers’ answer (and fulfillment) was delayed nearly 20 years. God had a great deal of work to do on Jacob, before he could work on Esau, and cause the brothers to be reconciled to each other.
To me, this was an amazing chapter. I really got a lot out of it. Its great to just know that the delays in what we pray for aren’t capricious and whimsical, but that they actually serve a purpose. However, in the moment, it might be difficult to understand why your prayers aren’t being answered. I think, all we can do at that point is just keep praying, until we hear from God that it is not his will, or we see that prayers fulfillment.
What do you think? What points above do you find personally compelling? Drop me a line and let me know?