The Necessity of Prayer
by E.M. Bounds


     "Some years ago a man was travelling in the wilds of 
Kentucky. He had with him a large sum of money and was well armed. 
He put up at a log-house one night, but was much concerned with 
the rough appearance of the men who came and went from this abode. 
He retired early but not to sleep. At midnight he heard the dogs 
barking furiously and the sound of someone entering the cabin. 
Peering through a chink in the boards of his room, he saw a 
stranger with a gun in his hand. Another man sat before the fire. 
The traveller concluded they were planning to rob him, and 
prepared to defend himself and his property. Presently the 
newcomer took down a copy of the Bible, read a chapter aloud, and 
then knelt down and prayed. The traveller dismissed his fears, put 
his revolver away and lay down, to sleep peacefully until morning 
light. And all because a Bible was in the cabin, and its owner a 
man of prayer." -- Rev. F. F. Shoup.

PRAYER has all to do with the success of the preaching of the 
Word. This, Paul clearly teaches in that familiar and pressing 
request he made to the Thessalonians:
     "Finally, brethren, pray for us that the Word of the Lord may 
have free course, and be glorified."
     Prayer opens the way for the Word of God to run without let 
or hindrance, and creates the atmosphere which is favourable to 
the word accomplishing its purpose. Prayer puts wheels under God's 
Word, and gives wings to the angel of the Lord "having the 
everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, 
and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." Prayer 
greatly helps the Word of the Lord.
     The Parable of the Sower is a notable study of preaching, 
showing its differing effects and describing the diversity of 
hearers. The wayside hearers are legion. The soil lies all 
unprepared either by previous thought or prayer; as a consequence, 
the devil easily takes away the seed (which is the Word of God) 
and dissipating all good impressions, renders the work of the 
sower futile. No one for a moment believes, that so much of 
present-day sowing would go fruitless if only the hearers would 
prepare the ground of their hearts beforehand by prayer and 
     Similarly with the stony-ground hearers, and the thorny-
ground hearers. Although the word lodges in their hearts and 
begins to sprout, yet all is lost, chiefly because there is no 
prayer or watchfulness or cultivation following. The good-ground 
hearers are profited by the sowing, simply because their minds 
have been prepared for the reception of the seed, and that, after 
hearing, they have cultivated the seed sown in their hearts, by 
the exercise of prayer. All this gives peculiar emphasis to the 
conclusion of this striking parable: "Take heed, therefore, how ye 
hear." And in order that we may take heed how we hear, it is 
needful to give ourselves continually to prayer.
     We have got to believe that underlying God's Word is prayer, 
and upon prayer, its final success will depend. In the Book of 
Isaiah we read:
     "So shall My word be that goeth out of My mouth; it shall not 
return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, 
and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
     In Psalm 19, David magnifies the Word of God in six 
statements concerning it. It converts the soul, makes wise the 
simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, endures 
eternally, and is true and righteous altogether. The Word of God 
is perfect, sure, right, pure. It is heart-searching, and at the 
same time purifying, in its effect. It is no surprise therefore 
that after considering the deep spirituality of the Word of God, 
its power to search the inner nature of man, and its deep purity, 
the Psalmist should close his dissertation with this passage:
     "Who can understand his errors?" And then praying after this 
fashion: "Cleanse Thou me from secret faults. Keep back Thy 
servant also from presumptuous sins. Let them not have dominion 
over me. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my 
heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my 
     James recognizes the deep spirituality of the Word, and its 
inherent saving power, in the following exhortation:
     "Wherefore, lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of 
naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which 
is able to save your souls."
     And Peter talks along the same line, when describing the 
saving power of the Word of God:
     "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of 
incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth 
     Not only does Peter speak of being born again, by the 
incorruptible Word of God, but he informs us that to grow in grace 
we must be like new-born babes, desiring or feeding upon the 
"sincere milk of the Word."
     That is not to say, however, that the mere form of words as 
they occur in the Bible have in them any saving efficacy. But the 
Word of God, be it remembered, is impregnated with the Holy 
Spirit. And just as there is a Divine element in the words of 
Scripture, so also is the same Divine element to be found in all 
true preaching of the Word, which is able to save and convert the 
     Prayer invariably begets a love for the Word of God, and sets 
people to the reading of it. Prayer leads people to obey the Word 
of God, and puts into the heart which obeys a joy unspeakable. 
Praying people and Bible-reading people are the same sort of folk. 
The God of the Bible and the God of prayer are one. God speaks to 
man in the Bible; man speaks to God in prayer. One reads the Bible 
to discover God's will; he prays in order that he may receive 
power to do that will. Bible-reading and praying are the 
distinguishing traits of those who strive to know and please God. 
And just as prayer begets a love for the Scriptures, and sets 
people to reading the Bible, so, also, does prayer cause men and 
women to visit the house of God, to hear the Scriptures expounded. 
Church-going is closely connected with the Bible, not so much 
because the Bible cautions us against "forsaking the assembling of 
ourselves together as the manner of some is," but because in God's 
house, God's chosen minister declares His Word to dying men, 
explains the Scriptures, and enforces their teachings upon his 
hearers. And prayer germinates a resolve, in those who practise 
it, not to forsake the house of God.
     Prayer begets a church-going conscience, a church-loving 
heart, a church-supporting spirit. It is the praying people, who 
make it a matter of conscience, to attend the preaching of the 
Word; who delight in its reading; exposition; who support it with 
their influence and their means. Prayer exalts the Word of God and 
gives it preeminence in the estimation of those who faithfully and 
wholeheartedly call upon the Name of the Lord.
     Prayer draws its very life from the Bible, and has no 
standing ground outside of the warrant of the Scriptures. Its very 
existence and character is dependent on revelation made by God to 
man in His holy Word. Prayer, in turn, exalts this same 
revelation, and turns men toward that Word. The nature, necessity 
and all-comprehending character of prayer, is based on the Word of 
     Psalm 119 is a directory of God's Word. With three or four 
exceptions, each verse contains a word which identifies, or 
locates, the Word of God. Quite often, the writer breaks out into 
supplication, several times praying, "Teach me Thy statutes." So 
deeply impressed is he with the wonders of God's Word, and of the 
need for Divine illumination wherewith to see and understand the 
wonderful things recorded therein, that he fervently prays:
     "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out 
of Thy law."
     From the opening of this wonderful Psalm to its close, prayer 
and God's Word are intertwined. Almost every phase of God's Word 
is touched upon by this inspired writer. So thoroughly convinced 
was the Psalmist of the deep spiritual power of the Word of God 
that he makes this declaration:
     "Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against 
     Here the Psalmist found his protection against sinning. By 
having God's Word hidden in his heart; in having his whole being 
thoroughly impregnated with that Word; in being brought completely 
under its benign and gracious influence, he was enabled to walk to 
and fro in the earth, safe from the attack of the Evil One, and 
fortified against a proneness to wander out of the way.
     We find, furthermore, the power of prayer to create a real 
love for the Scriptures, and to put within men a nature which will 
take pleasure in the Word. In holy ecstasy he cries, "O, how I 
love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day." And again: "How 
sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my 
     Would we have a relish for God's Word? Then let us give 
ourselves continually to prayer. He who would have a heart for the 
reading of the Bible must not -- dare not -- forget to pray. The 
man of whom it can be said, "His delight is in the law of the 
Lord," is the man who can truly say, "I delight to visit the place 
of prayer." No man loves the Bible, who does not love to pray. No 
man loves to pray, who does not delight in the law of the Lord.
     Our Lord was a man of prayer, and He magnified the Word of 
God, quoting often from the Scriptures. Right through His earthly 
life Jesus observed Sabbath-keeping, church-going and the reading 
of the Word of God, and had prayer intermingled with them all:
     "And He came to Nazareth where He had been brought up, and as 
His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day, and 
stood up to read."
     Here, let it be said, that no two things are more essential 
to a spirit-filled life than Bible-reading and secret prayer; no 
two things more helpful to growth in grace; to getting the largest 
joy out of a Christian life; toward establishing one in the ways 
of eternal peace. The neglect of these all-important duties, 
presages leanness of soul, loss of joy, absence of peace, dryness 
of spirit, decay in all that pertains to spiritual life. 
Neglecting these things paves the way for apostasy, and gives the 
Evil One an advantage such as he is not likely to ignore. Reading 
God's Word regularly, and praying habitually in the secret place 
of the Most High puts one where he is absolutely safe from the 
attacks of the enemy of souls, and guarantees him salvation and 
final victory, through the overcoming power of the Lamb.