The Necessity of Prayer
by E.M. Bounds


     "A dear friend of mine who was quite a lover of the chase, 
told me the following story: 'Rising early one morning,' he said, 
'I heard the baying of a score of deerhounds in pursuit of their 
quarry. Looking away to a broad, open field in front of me, I saw 
a young fawn making its way across, and giving signs, moreover, 
that its race was well-nigh run. Reaching the rails of the 
enclosure, it leaped over and crouched within ten feet from where 
I stood. A moment later two of the hounds came over, when the fawn 
ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted 
the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, 
fought off the dogs. I felt, just then, that all the dogs in the 
West could not, and should not capture that fawn after its 
weakness had appealed to my strength.' So is it, when human 
helplessness appeals to Almighty God. Well do I remember when the 
hounds of sin were after my soul, until, at last, I ran into the 
arms of Almighty God." -- A. C. Dixon.

IN any study of the principles, and procedure of prayer, of its 
activities and enterprises, first place, must, of necessity, be 
given to faith. It is the initial quality in the heart of any man 
who essays to talk to the Unseen. He must, out of sheer 
helplessness, stretch forth hands of faith. He must believe, where 
he cannot prove. In the ultimate issue, prayer is simply faith, 
claiming its natural yet marvellous prerogatives -- faith taking 
possession of its illimitable inheritance. True godliness is just 
as true, steady, and persevering in the realm of faith as it is in 
the province of prayer. Moreover: when faith ceases to pray, it 
ceases to live.
     Faith does the impossible because it brings God to undertake 
for us, and nothing is impossible with God. How great -- without 
qualification or limitation -- is the power of faith! If doubt be 
banished from the heart, and unbelief made stranger there, what we 
ask of God shall surely come to pass, and a believer hath 
vouchsafed to him "whatsoever he saith."
     Prayer projects faith on God, and God on the world. Only God 
can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God. In His cursing 
of the fig-tree our Lord demonstrated His power. Following that, 
He proceeded to declare, that large powers were committed to faith 
and prayer, not in order to kill but to make alive, not to blast 
but to bless.
     At this point in our study, we turn to a saying of our Lord, 
which there is need to emphasize, since it is the very keystone of 
the arch of faith and prayer.
     "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire when 
ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
     We should ponder well that statement -- "Believe that ye 
receive them, and ye shall have them." Here is described a faith 
which realizes, which appropriates, which takes. Such faith is a 
consciousness of the Divine, an experienced communion, a realized 
     Is faith growing or declining as the years go by? Does faith 
stand strong and four square, these days, as iniquity abounds and 
the love of many grows cold? Does faith maintain its hold, as 
religion tends to become a mere formality and worldliness 
increasingly prevails? The enquiry of our Lord, may, with great 
appropriateness, be ours. "When the Son of Man cometh," He asks, 
"shall He find faith on the earth?" We believe that He will, and 
it is ours, in this our day, to see to it that the lamp of faith 
is trimmed and burning, lest He come who shall come, and that 
right early.
     Faith is the foundation of Christian character and the 
security of the soul. When Jesus was looking forward to Peter's 
denial, and cautioning him against it, He said unto His disciple:
     "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, to 
sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fall 
     Our Lord was declaring a central truth; it was Peter's faith 
He was seeking to guard; for well He knew that when faith is 
broken down, the foundations of spiritual life give way, and the 
entire structure of religious experience falls. It was Peter's 
faith which needed guarding. Hence Christ's solicitude for the 
welfare of His disciple's soul and His determination to fortify 
Peter's faith by His own all-prevailing prayer.
     In his Second Epistle, Peter has this idea in mind when 
speaking of growth in grace as a measure of safety in the 
Christian life, and as implying fruitfulness.
     "And besides this," he declares, "giving diligence, add to 
your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge 
temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience 
     Of this additioning process, faith was the starting-point -- 
the basis of the other graces of the Spirit. Faith was the 
foundation on which other things were to be built. Peter does not 
enjoin his readers to add to works or gifts or virtues but to 
faith. Much depends on starting right in this business of growing 
in grace. There is a Divine order, of which Peter was aware; and 
so he goes on to declare that we are to give diligence to making 
our calling and election sure, which election is rendered certain 
adding to faith which, in turn, is done by constant, earnest 
praying. Thus faith is kept alive by prayer, and every step taken, 
in this adding of grace to grace, is accompanied by prayer.
     The faith which pcreates powerful praying is the
     faith which centres itself on a powerful Person. Faith in 
Christ's ability to do and to do greatly, is the faith which prays 
greatly. Thus the leper lay hold upon the power of Christ. "Lord, 
if Thou wilt," he cried, "Thou canst make me clean." In this 
instance, we are shown how faith centered in Christ's ability to 
do, and how it secured the healing power.
     It was concerning this very point, that Jesus questioned the 
blind men who came to Him for healing:
     "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" He asks. "They said 
unto Him, Yea, Lord. Then touched He their eyes, saying, According 
to your faith be it unto you."
     It was to inspire faith in His ability to do that Jesus left 
behind Him, that last, great statement, which, in the final 
analysis, is a ringing challenge to faith. "All power," He 
declared, "is given unto Me in heaven and in earth."
     Again: faith is obedient; it goes when commanded, as did the 
nobleman, who came to Jesus, in the day of His flesh, and whose 
son was grievously sick.
     Moreover: such faith acts. Like the man who was born blind, 
it goes to wash in the pool of Siloam when told to wash. Like 
Peter on Gennesaret it casts the net where Jesus commands, 
instantly, without question or doubt. Such faith takes away the 
stone from the grave of Lazarus promptly. A praying faith keeps 
the commandments of God and does those things which are well 
pleasing in His sight. It asks, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to 
do?" and answers quickly, "Speak, Lord, Thy servant heareth." 
Obedience helps faith, and faith, in turn, helps obedience. To do 
God's will is essential to true faith, and faith is necessary to 
implicit obedience.
     Yet faith is called upon, and that right often to wait in 
patience before God, and is prepared for God's seeming delays in 
answering prayer. Faith does not grow disheartened because prayer 
is not immediately honoured; it takes God at His Word, and lets 
Him take what time He chooses in fulfilling His purposes, and in 
carrying on His work. There is bound to be much delay and long 
days of waiting for true faith, but faith accepts the conditions 
-- knows there will be delays in answering prayer, and regards 
such delays as times of testing, in the which, it is privileged to 
show its mettle, and the stern stuff of which it is made.
     The case of Lazarus was an instance of where there was delay, 
where the faith of two good women was sorely tried: Lazarus was 
critically ill, and his sisters sent for Jesus. But, without any 
known reason, our Lord delayed His going to the relief of His sick 
friend. The plea was urgent and touching -- "Lord, behold, he whom 
Thou lovest is sick," -- but the Master is not moved by it, and 
the women's earnest request seemed to fall on deaf ears. What a 
trial to faith! Furthermore: our Lord's tardiness appeared to 
bring about hopeless disaster. While Jesus tarried, Lazarus died.
     But the delay of Jesus was exercised in the interests of a 
greater good. Finally, He makes His way to the home in Bethany.
     "Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am 
glad for your sakes, that I was not there, to the intent ye may 
believe; nevertheless let us go unto him."
     Fear not, O tempted and tried believer, Jesus will come, if 
patience be exercised, and faith hold fast. His delay will serve 
to make His coming the more richly blessed. Pray on. Wait on. Thou 
canst not fail. If Christ delay, wait for Him. In His own good 
time, He will come, and will not tarry.
     Delay is often the test and the strength of faith. How much 
patience is required when these times of testing come! Yet faith 
gathers strength by waiting and praying. Patience has its perfect 
work in the school of delay. In some instances, delay is of the 
very essence of the prayer. God has to do many things, antecedent 
to giving the final answer -- things which are essential to the 
lasting good of him who is requesting favour at His hands.
     Jacob prayed, with point and ardour, to be delivered from 
Esau. But before that prayer could be answered, there was much to 
be done with, and for Jacob. He must be changed, as well as Esau. 
Jacob had to be made into a new man, before Esau could be. Jacob 
had to be converted to God, before Esau could be converted to 
     Among the large and luminous utterances of Jesus concerning 
prayer, none is more arresting than this:
     "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the 
works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these 
shall he do; because I go unto My Father. And whatsoever ye shall 
ask in My Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified 
in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in My Name, I will do it."
     How wonderful are these statements of what God will do in 
answer to prayer! Of how great importance these ringing words, 
prefaced, as they are, with the most solemn verity! Faith in 
Christ is the basis of all working, and of all praying. All 
wonderful works depend on wonderful praying, and all praying is 
done in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amazing lesson, of wondrous 
simplicity, is this praying in the name of the Lord Jesus! All 
other conditions are depreciated, everything else is renounced, 
save Jesus only. The name of Christ -- the Person of our Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ -- must be supremely sovereign, in the hour 
and article of prayer.
     If Jesus dwell at the fountain of my life; if the currents of 
His life have displaced and superseded all self-currents; if 
implicit obedience to Him be the inspiration and force of every 
movement of my life, then He can safely commit the praying to my 
will, and pledge Himself, by an obligation as profound as His own 
nature, that whatsoever is asked shall be granted. Nothing can be 
clearer, more distinct, more unlimited both in application and 
extent, than the exhortation and urgency of Christ, "Have faith in 
     Faith covers temporal as well as spiritual needs. Faith 
dispels all undue anxiety and needless care about what shall be 
eaten, what shall he drunk, what shall be worn. Faith lives in the 
present, and regards the day as being sufficient unto the evil 
thereof. It lives day by day, and dispels all fears for the 
morrow. Faith brings great ease of mind and perfect peace of 
     "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on 
Thee: because he trusted in Thee."
     When we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," we are, in 
a measure, shutting tomorrow out of our prayer. We do not live in 
tomorrow but in today. We do not seek tomorrow's grace or 
tomorrow's bread. They thrive best, and get most out of life, who 
live in the living present. They pray best who pray for today's 
needs, not for tomorrow's, which may render our prayers 
unnecessary and redundant by not existing at all!
     True prayers are born of present trials and present needs. 
Bread, for today, is bread enough. Bread given for today is the 
strongest sort of pledge that there will be bread tomorrow. 
Victory today, is the assurance of victory tomorrow. Our prayers 
need to be focussed upon the present, We must trust God today, and 
leave the morrow entirely with Him. The present is ours; the 
future belongs to God. Prayer is the task and duty of each 
recurring day -- daily prayer for daily needs.
     As every day demands its bread, so every day demands its 
prayer. No amount of praying, done today, will suffice for 
tomorrow's praying. On the other hand, no praying for tomorrow is 
of any great value to us today. To-day's manna is what we need; 
tomorrow God will see that our needs are supplied. This is the 
faith which God seeks to inspire. So leave tomorrow, with its 
cares, its needs, its troubles, in God's hands. There is no 
storing tomorrow's grace or tomorrow's praying; neither is there 
any laying-up of today's grace, to meet tomorrow's necessities. We 
cannot have tomorrow's grace, we cannot eat tomorrow's bread, we 
cannot do tomorrow's praying. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil 
thereof;" and, most assuredly, if we possess faith, sufficient 
also, will be the good.