Monday, December 8, 2008


For every hour spent in his study chair, he (the preacher) will have to spend two upon his knees. For every hour he devotes to wrestling with an obscure passage of Holy Writ, he must have two in the which to be found wrestling with God. Prayer and preaching: preaching and prayer! They cannot be seperated. The ancient cry was: "To your tents, O Israel!" The modern Cry should be: "To your knees, O preacher, to your knees!"

E.M Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer (online version,


Joshua Owen said...

John, I have the utmost respect for men like Bounds who spent much time in prayer. I spend much more time in the position of sitting at a desk typing or reading than I do on my knees or prostrated in prayer. But I'd like to think that my Bible study and prayer life are more seamless than Bound's quote suggests. In other words, I commune with the Lord during my studies, not just before or after I take up the word to study. Although I will admit that I need to spend less time in the chair and more time on the floor. What are your thoughts on our practice of prayer and the study of the word?


John Lucas said...

Josh, I am not familiar with Bounds' biography or other works outside of this, but I will tell you based on my limited scope how he would respond and then my response.

I don't think Bounds would say that prayer in and out of study are mutually exclusive. In this book he makes a strong plea to pastors to soak their messages from start to pulpit in prayer. He would commend you and encourage you to a greater depth of prayer. His point in this quote was the temptation I have felt often to neglect prayer for the sake of study. I can remember with shame many times stepping in the pulpit with massive amounts of time in books, but pathetic amounts in prayer. But the two can and should be combined I agree: Study should be done in a "mode of prayer," so that we are not so much conversing with the authors of dead pages, but the auther of life Himself.

On the posture of prayer, I am a weak example. I find my prayer more focused and sweet when kneeling or on a bench, but I rarely find myself praying in that way. I strive as you do to commune continually with the Lord, but Piper in "When I Don't Desire God," makes a forceful arguement for periods tucked away in our day for intense prayer in a reverent posture, similar to Daniel after the policy banning his ability to pray to Yahweh. Piper suggests 3-4 scheduled, intentional times when we have a "closet" to retreat for seeking the face of God.

I once read Whitefield speaking of praying through every line of Scripture in his devotionals, instead of prayer simply a seperate exercise. That has been a difficult exercise, but revolutionary to my time with the Lord. The most rewarding times of studying God's Word have come from heeding that great Saint's advice.