Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review: Power Through Prayer

I have lately been convicted that my prayer life is lacking. I found the book Power Through Prayer by E.M. Bounds on my “to read” shelf and thought it would be a good time to read it. The description on the back of the book says this:

E.M. Bounds had a tremendous impact on Christians throughout his long life (1835 to 1913), both through his preaching and writing and through the silent testimony of his life. And of all his writings, Power Through Prayer stands out as his best work. In the last hundred years, countless individuals have looked to this work as the most important teaching on prayer and prayer life found outside the Bible.

Sounds good, right? I looked up some reviews on it and everyone seemed to say it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, so I was pretty excited to get started.

From the beginning, though, I found the book to be filled with pithy statements, but lacking in real substance.

Some Examples:
  • p. 14 – "The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better people."
  • p. 80 – "It is easier to fill the head than to prepare the heart."
  • p. 36 – "Talking to others for God is a great thing. But talking to God for others is greater still."

Now, there’s nothing wrong with pithy statements per se. However, the book almost read like a string of good one-liners the author had come across over the years. I didn’t feel much continuity of thought. It’s clear Bounds thought prayer was important, but in my opinion he failed to instruct the reader on the Biblical principles of why, when, or how we should pray.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the theological errors in the book as well. Bounds seemed to have a very man-centered view of God. Consider the following examples:

  • p. 100 – "the coming of our Lord has been postponed indefinitely by lack of prayer…" {The last time I checked, NO purpose of God could be thwarted (Job 42:1-2, Isaiah 14:27)}
  • p. 69 – "Nothing is too hard for God to do if he can get the right kind of person to do it with." (emphasis added) {So therefore, there are things too hard for God to do if He can’t find the right person? No way! Nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37)}
  • p. 117 – "God can work wonders if he can get a suitable servant. People can work wonders if they can get God to lead them." (emphasis added) {So is he saying God can’t do wonders if there are no suitable servants around? It seems to me He created the world perfectly well without any human help.}

To be fair, some of the material in the book is good and true. However, without backing his statements up with Scripture, it reads more like the fragmented thoughts of an eloquent speaker than a preacher expounding the Word of God. If you’re looking for a book on prayer, I’m sure there must be better options out there than this one. (Speaking of that, I would still like to read a good book on prayer. If you know of one, I would love to hear your recommendations in the comments!)

THE VERDICT: Skip it.

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