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.
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.
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.
• 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)