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THE PRAYER CLOSET AND COMPASSION

The Prayer Life of EM Bounds by Kevin M Thomas

EM Bounds: “How can a preacher preach effectively, make impressions on hearts and minds, and have fruits to his ministry, who does not get his message first-hand from God? How can he deliver a rightful message without having his faith quickened, his vision cleared, and his heart warmed by his closeting with God?”

Kevin M Thomas’ Explanation: EM Bounds began this section with a fundamentally profound question. How can a preacher preach to get results, move hearts to obey God, put the imprint of God’s will on people’s minds and have something to show for his ministry efforts, if he does not receive a firsthand message from God?

Mountains of Commentaries
Too many preachers are dependent on commentaries, lectionaries, and the internet for their messages. I wonder how many preachers have turned on the television or ventured out to YouTube, then preached what they heard another human say. Many well-meaning preachers and Bible teachers exert more effort climbing mountains of commentaries than they do climbing into the presence of God through prayer. Bounds called preachers back to seeking the face of God as Moses did (Exodus 33:11). As Moses did, we must climb the mountain to be with God (Exodus 34:2). And mountain climbing is not easy work.

Hearsay Perhaps?
Bounds asked Christians to consider how we can deliver a rightful message without first having our own faith quickened. A rightful message is a legitimate message. If my children do not talk to me, then any message they deliver to their siblings is not legitimately from me. It might be what they think I would say. It might be what someone told them I said. It might even be what I said in the past. But it is not today’s message from their father.

Dead Faith in Living Christians
Bounds went on to say that we must have our faith quickened. God is a quickening Spirit. When we enter His presence our faith is revived, activated, made alive. So many preachers walk around with dead faith. Now I am not saying that they are not true Christians, but they have not attempted the great feats that God has placed in their hearts. They are walking in fear instead of faith. Afraid of failure! Afraid of the church board! Afraid of the work! Afraid! Fearful!

Such fearful servants need to be transformed into faithful saints. They need their faith quickened. A good book, movie or motivational speaker might help, but this is a temporary fix. Only one true and lasting remedy will revive their faith. And that remedy is time with God, the Giver of Life.

Not only does God resuscitate our faith when we spend time in His presence, but He clarifies our vision. So many well-intended preachers walk around quoting vision statements, but they have no vision. They only have a wish of what a preferable future could look like. But they have not been to the mountain top with God. They have not experienced Him pointing over to the Promised Land and saying “All this will be yours, if you follow My path.” They have not given Him a personal “Amen” to such statements, because they have not heard them.

In other words, when God clarifies the vision, He also clarifies the pathways or plans we need to see the vision come to pass. We have a plethora of well-intended preachers and other Christians, but so few visionaries! Why? Only God gives us the vision. A good idea is not the same as a “God” idea. Only time with God will bring the vision into focus.

Fake Fur
Compassion, not feigned compassion, but true compassion is missing in the church and even in the pulpit. When you are overworked, understaffed, underpaid and underappreciated, the reservoir of compassion can dry up. Church hurt has a way of drying up your compassion. Although it might be fashionable to wear fake fur, fake compassion is never in style. Nobody likes it, not you, not the people and especially not God. We need our hearts warmed again.

Can You Feel the Heater?
As I sit at my desk and write today, I glance out my window to the see the snow blanketing the grass. My little heater near my desk keeps cycling on and off. The cold outside is making it cold inside. So I moved closer to the heater. Now I am warm. The people preachers encounter as we serve God’s church can be cold. That is, they can be rude, uncaring and some downright mean.

Consequently, it is not always easy for preachers and other committed church leaders to be warmed with the compassion that God calls for. Yet, without it the people see us phonies wearing the fake fur of feigned compassion. To feign or pretend does not go over well in the church. Congregations stone hypocrites. Therefore, our compassion must be real. We cannot afford to wear fake furs. We must wear the real thing.

Authenticity matters. It not only matters to the people and to God, but it matters to you. You know what it feels like to fake that you like someone. It is not a good feeling. We need true compassion, to have our hearts “warmed by closeting with God”. Grammatically when we think of the word closet we think of a noun. Bounds used it here as a verb. To closet means to take yourself into a small, private room to have an interview with God.

Imagine being in a closet with God, the all-consuming fire. He is the heater that warms your heart. On these cold days here in Ohio I do not go to the largest room in the church or my house to warm up. I find a heater in a small room, so that I can warm up quicker. If you lack true compassion, get in the closet with the Heater and your heart will be warmed without delay.

Discussion Questions
• Where is your prayer closet?

• When do you closet with God?

• How would you rate your compassion for the people Christ died for?

• What do you need to closet with God about? What is hurting you? What’s hindering you?

 

(CLASSICS Revisited #3:  Book 6: Weapons of Prayer – PRAYERLESSNESS IN THE PULPIT by EM BOUNDS)

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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Prayer

 

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PRAYER AND THE ANGELS

The Prayer Life of EM Bounds by Kevin M Thomas

EM Bounds: “All God’s saints came to their sainthood by the way of prayer. The saints could do nothing without prayer. We can go further and say that the angels in heaven can do nothing without prayer, but can do all things by praying. These messengers of the Highest are largely dependent on the prayers of the saints for the sphere and power of their usefulness, which open avenues for angelic usefulness and create missions for them on the earth. And as it is with all the Apostles, saints and angels in heaven, so is it of preachers. “The angels of the churches” can do nothing without prayer which opens doors of usefulness and gives power and point to their words.”

Kevin M Thomas’ Explanation:  All of God’s people became God’s people because someone was praying.  As Christians we cannot do anything of real significance without prayer.  We can stay busy, but not necessarily productive.

To press this point further, let us consider the fact that the Bible teaches that God dispatches angels to watch over us and work for our good (cf. Hebrews 1:13-14).  Bounds indicated that the angels cannot work in our lives effectively unless we are praying.  I know for some this might sound a little off theologically, but let’s consider Revelation 8:3-5.

3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.  4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.  5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:3–5)

Somehow the prayers of those who are in Christ Jesus are seen as ascending up to God “out of the angel’s hand”.  The angel took fire from the altar near God and “threw it to the earth”.  In other words, it appears as if God is using the angel here to respond to or answer the prayers of the saints.  The angel’s part in the process of prayer impacts the earth.  Although the book of Revelation uses both symbols and literal images, one thing is clear.  God uses angels in the process of answering prayer in Revelation 8, which we may safely conclude they are involved in answering our prayers today.

The word angel means messenger.  These messengers of the Most High God are greatly dependent on our prayers.  Our prayers or messages to and from God affect their assignments concerning us.  When we pray, God creates missions for the angels to carry out on our behalf.  (This is not to say that God does not give angels assignments outside of prayers.)

God has two types of messengers, heavenly and earthly.  We understand the heavenly messengers as the created order of angelic beings who attend to His throne and carry out His commands.  The earthly messengers are humans who are known as preachers, missionaries, evangelist, pastors, teachers, and other Christians who carry His message to the world.  Just as the angelic messengers are dependent on prayer for their earthly assignments we are too, especially preachers.  In the book of Revelation 2-3 the “angel of the church” can be understood in two ways.  God assigns a heavenly being known as an angelic messenger plus He assigns a human messenger known as a pastor to guard and guide each local congregation or assembly known as a church.

Just as the angels hands are tied without prayer, so are the pastor’s.  Without prayer none of God’s messengers can do anything worthwhile.  Prayer opens the doors to our true usefulness to the Kingdom and our community.  Prayer empowers us to do what we otherwise could not.  Prayer gives “point to” our words.  To give point means that prayer sharpens the words we speak.  It makes them a more powerful weapon and a sharper tool, whichever is needed to rescue and build up people.  Prayer releases the unseen angelic forces to do God’s bidding on our behalf.

So let’s fall to our knees in faith believing that heavenly help is available for the asking.

(CLASSICS Revisited #2:  Book 6: Weapons of Prayer – PRAYERLESSNESS IN THE PULPIT by EM BOUNDS)

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Angels, Prayer

 

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PRAYER AND THE PULPIT

The Prayer Life of E. M. Bounds by Kevin M. Thomas

EM Bounds

EM Bounds 1864

EM Bounds: “Henry Martyn laments that want of private devotional reading and shortness of prayer through incessant sermon-making had produced much strangeness between God and his soul.’ He judges that he had dedicated too much time to public ministrations and too little to private communion with God. He was much impressed with the need of setting apart times for fasting and to devote times to for solemn prayer.  Resulting from this he records Was assisted this morning to pray for two hours.'”–E. M. B.

Kevin M Thomas’ Explanation:  EM Bounds begins this work speaking of the lament of an Anglican priest named Henry Martyn (February 18, 1781 – October 16, 1812) who also was a missionary to India and Persia.  Henry Martyn was saddened that his own personal life was short on devotional reading and exhibited a “shortness of prayer”.  He blamed the never ending demand on his time to prepare next week’s sermon.

Pastors, Prayer and Sermon Preparation
Even today so many pastors are sidetracked from prayer with sermon preparation.  The demands of preaching week after week can take a toll on the preacher’s personal life and prayer life, if he or she is not careful.  Bounds stated that Martyn believed that his “incessant sermon-making” had made his soul a stranger to God.  He admitted that he had spent too much time doing public ministry and invested too little quiet time communing with God.  Consequently, he felt compelled to set aside times for prayer and fasting.

Likewise, we too much set aside adequate time for prayer and avoid the daily distractions from prayer.

(CLASSICS Revisited #1:  Book 6: Weapons of Prayer – PRAYERLESSNESS IN THE PULPIT by EM BOUNDS)

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Prayer

 

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