Yesterday, Pastor G and I did something we rarely do. We threw a book in the garbage. I can recall only a few other times we did so, and each time was because we saw no spiritual value in the book and didn’t want to be responsible for the book being read by Christians, who tend to be very influenced by the written word. This was a book on prayer, and it is a collection of articles by E. M. Bounds. There were so many things wrongly stated that we could not see donating the volume to one of our usual second-hand bookstore or thrift shop recipients.
Pastor G and I were plain disgusted at Bound’s prayer standards, which are exceedingly high and nearly impossible to attain. They require focus, concentration, huge effort, powerful exertion of the will and tremendous discipline. We noted the similarity between his teaching on prayer and that of the word of faith in a number of areas, and that’s not biblically based and just plain wrong. He stated that prayer changes God’s mind, implying that prayer removes God’s sovereignty and will and makes our desires dominant because we pray. God sometimes does change His mind, but that’s because He chooses to and the change is within His will, plan and purpose for our lives. Bounds stated prayer has power of itself. Only God has power. Our words and actions clearly don’t. Bounds claimed prayers go unanswered because the one praying doesn’t pray correctly or fervently enough. That echoes the word of faith people who claim that a person hasn’t been healed because they lack the faith “required” to receive God’s healing touch. Please excuse me as I mentally yell at those who follow these man-made systems and doctrines, for they surely are not biblical. I know God hears prayers and answers all. Sometimes the answers are not what is hoped for or expected, but the answers are there nonetheless.
Brothers and sisters, prayer is a joy and a delight because we connect to and communicate with God. Like with all conversations, the length and content can vary. Prayer is not a formula. It is not a chore. While sometimes we do labor in prayer, it is not a regular requirement. Our part is to be real, authentic. If there is a physical or spiritual need, we can indeed cry out to God to intervene according to His will. God looks upon our attitudes and sees our genuine desire to be with Him in prayer. We don’t have to be spiritually pure or perfect to go before His throne as Bounds exhorts us. We are sinners in need of a Savior, and that’s why we are so grateful to Jesus. It amazes me that Bounds missed the fact that God sees us all as righteous and holy not because of ourselves but because He is with us and within us. He sees His reflections and characteristics. No believer need be ashamed to go before God’s throne.
Pastor G and I were lamenting the dearth of prayer meetings in our area and wonder if Bounds and others like him have discouraged believers from gathering together for these wonderful meetings where believers can profoundly sense His presence and experience His touch. I long for a Brooklyn Tabernaclelike weeknight gathering where believers can gather together to be refreshed spiritually and unite their voices when spiritually burdened to intercede. For those of you who don’t know about the Brooklyn Tabernacle, please, please read Pastor Jim Cymbala’s classic Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.
So, let’s pray: Father God, thanks for helping us to know how not to pray as well as how to pray. Thanks for being there to hear us be the connection long or short. Thanks for answering our prayers according to Your will, plan and purpose for people or circumstances, and thanks for granting us what we need when circumstances don’t change. Thanks for Your peace that passes all understanding. Thanks for understanding us and our moods and listening sometimes in spite of lousy attitudes. Thanks for loving us and for helping us realize that prayer is a vital component of that spiritual love connection. Thanks for sending spiritual encouragers across our paths so that we can make it through the tough times. Thanks for always being available when we have needs and other people aren’t around for us to connect to and communicate with. Thanks for convicting us that, with You in our lives, we are never alone or unsupported. In Jesus’ name, amen.
copyright 2015, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved