The Necessity of Prayer
by E.M. Bounds


     "One evening I left my office in New York, with a bitterly 
cold wind in my face. I had with me, (as I thought) my thick, warm 
muffler, but when I proceeded to button-up against the storm, I 
found that it was gone. I turned back, looked along the streets, 
searched my office, but in vain. I realized, then, that I must 
have dropped it, and prayed God that I might find it; for such was 
the state of the weather, that it would be running a great risk to 
proceed without it. I looked, again, up and down the surrounding 
streets, but without success. Sudden]y, I saw a man on the 
opposite side of the road holding out something in his hand. I 
crossed over and asked him if that were my muffler? He handed it 
to me saying, 'It was blown to me by the wind.' He who rides upon 
the storm, had used the wind as a means of answering prayer." -- 
William Horst.

PRAYER does not stand alone. It is not an isolated duty and 
independent principle. It lives in association with other 
Christian duties, is wedded to other principles, is a partner with 
other graces. But to faith, prayer is indissolubly joined. Faith 
gives it colour and tone, shapes its character, and secures its 
     Trust is faith become absolute, ratified, consummated. There 
is, when all is said and done, a sort of venture in faith and its 
exercise. But trust is firm belief, it is faith in full flower. 
Trust is a conscious act, a fact of which we are sensible. 
According to the Scriptural concept it is the eye of the new-born 
soul, and the ear of the renewed soul. It is the feeling of the 
soul, the spiritual eye, the ear, the taste, the feeling -- these 
one and all have to do with trust. How luminous, how distinct, how 
conscious, how powerful, and more than all, how Scriptural is such 
a trust! How different from many forms of modern belief, so 
feeble, dry, and cold! These new phases of belief bring no 
consciousness of their presence, no "Joy unspeakable and full of 
glory" results from their exercise. They are, for the most part, 
adventures in the peradventures of the soul. There is no safe, 
sure trust in anything. The whole transaction takes place in the 
realm of Maybe and Perhaps.
     Trust like life, is feeling, though much more than feeling. 
An unfelt life is a contradiction; an unfelt trust is a misnomer, 
a delusion, a contradiction. Trust is the most felt of all 
attributes. It is all feeling, and it works only by love. An 
unfelt love is as impossible as an unfelt trust. The trust of 
which we are now speaking is a conviction. An unfelt conviction? 
How absurd!
     Trust sees God doing things here and now. Yea, more. It rises 
to a lofty eminence, and looking into the invisible and the 
eternal, realizes that God has done things, and regards them as 
being already done. Trust brings eternity into the annals and 
happenings of time, transmutes the substance of hope into the 
reality of fruition, and changes promise into present possession. 
We know when we trust just as we know when we see, just as we are 
conscious of our sense of touch. Trust sees, receives, holds. 
Trust is its own witness.
     Yet, quite often, faith is too weak to obtain God's greatest 
good, immediately; so it has to wait in loving, strong, prayerful, 
pressing obedience, until it grows in strength, and is able to 
bring down the eternal, into the realms of experience and time.
     To this point, trust masses all its forces. Here it holds. 
And in the struggle, trust's grasp becomes mightier, and grasps, 
for itself, all that God has done for it in His eternal wisdom and 
plenitude of grace.
     In the matter of waiting in prayer, mightiest prayer, faith 
rises to its highest plane and becomes indeed the gift of God. It 
becomes the blessed disposition and expression of the soul which 
is secured by a constant intercourse with, and unwearied 
application to God.
     Jesus Christ clearly taught that faith was the condition on 
which prayer was answered. When our Lord had cursed the fig-tree, 
the disciples were much surprised that its withering had actually 
taken place, and their remarks indicated their in credulity. It 
was then that Jesus said to them, "Have faith in God."
     "For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto 
this mountain, Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea, and 
shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things 
which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he 
saith. Therefore, I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, 
when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have 
     Trust grows nowhere so readily and richly as in the prayer-
chamber. Its unfolding and development are rapid and wholesome 
when they are regularly and well kept. When these engagements are 
hearty and full and free, trust flourishes exceedingly. The eye 
and presence of God give vigorous life to trust, just as the eye 
and the presence of the sun make fruit and flower to grow, and all 
things glad and bright with fuller life.
     "Have faith in God," "Trust in the Lord" form the keynote and 
foundation of prayer. Primarily, it is not trust in the Word of 
God, but rather trust in the Person of God. For trust in the 
Person of God must precede trust in the Word of God. "Ye believe 
in God, believe also in Me," is the demand our Lord makes on the 
personal trust of His disciples. The person of Jesus Christ must 
be central, to the eye of trust. This great truth Jesus sought to 
impress upon Martha, when her brother lay dead, in the home at 
Bethany. Martha asserted her belief in the fact of the 
resurrection of her brother:
     "Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in 
the resurrection at the last day."
     Jesus lifts her trust clear above the mere fact of the 
resurrection, to His own Person, by saying:
     "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, 
though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and 
believeth in Me, shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith 
unto Him, Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son 
of God, which should come into the world."
     Trust, in an historical fact or in a mere record may be a 
very passive thing, but trust in a person vitalizes the quality, 
fructifies it, informs it with love. The trust which informs 
prayer centres in a Person.
     Trust goes even further than this. The trust which inspires 
our prayer must be not only trust in the Person of God, and of 
Christ, but in their ability and willingness to grant the thing 
prayed for. It is not only, "Trust, ye, in the Lord," but, also, 
"for in the Lord Jehovah, is everlasting strength."
     The trust which our Lord taught as a condition of effectual 
prayer, is not of the head but of the heart. It is trust which 
"doubteth not in his heart." Such trust has the Divine assurance 
that it shall be honoured with large and satisfying answers. The 
strong promise of our Lord brings faith down to the present, and 
counts on a present answer.
     Do we believe, without a doubt? When we pray, do we believe, 
not that we shall receive the things for which we ask on a future 
day, but that we receive them, then and there? Such is the 
teaching of this inspiring Scripture. How we need to pray, "Lord, 
increase our faith," until doubt be gone, and implicit trust 
claims the promised blessings, as its very own.
     This is no easy condition. It is reached only after many a 
failure, after much praying, after many waitings, after much trial 
of faith. May our faith so increase until we realize and receive 
all the fulness there is in that Name which guarantees to do so 
     Our Lord puts trust as the very foundation of praying. The 
background of prayer is trust. The whole issuance of Christ's 
ministry and work was dependent on implicit trust in His Father. 
The centre of trust is God. Mountains of difficulties, and all 
other hindrances to prayer are moved out of the way by trust and 
his virile henchman, faith. When trust is perfect and without 
doubt, prayer is simply the outstretched hand, ready to receive. 
Trust perfected, is prayer perfected. Trust looks to receive the 
thing asked for -- and gets it. Trust is not a belief that God can 
bless, that He will bless, but that He does bless, here and now. 
Trust always operates in the present tense. Hope looks toward the 
future. Trust looks to the present. Hope expects. Trust possesses. 
Trust receives what prayer acquires. So that what prayer needs, at 
all times, is abiding and abundant trust.
     Their lamentable lack of trust and resultant failure of the 
disciples to do what they were sent out to do, is seen in the case 
of the lunatic son, who was brought by his father to nine of them 
while their Master was on the Mount of Transfiguration. A boy, 
sadly afflicted, was brought to these men to be cured of his 
malady. They had been commissioned to do this very kind of work. 
This was a part of their mission. They attempted to cast out the 
devil from the boy, but had signally failed. The devil was too 
much for them. They were humiliated at their failure, and filled 
with shame, while their enemies were in triumph. Amid the 
confusion incident to failure Jesus draws near. He is informed of 
the circumstances, and told of the conditions connected therewith. 
Here is the succeeding account:
     "Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse 
generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer 
you? Bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil, and he 
departed out of him and the child was cured from that very hour. 
And when He was come into the house, His disciples asked Him 
privately, Why could not we cast him out? And He said unto them, 
This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting."
     Wherein lay the difficulty with these men? They had been lax 
in cultivating their faith by prayer and, as a consequence, their 
trust utterly failed. They trusted not God, nor Christ, nor the 
authenticity of His mission, or their own. So has it been many a 
time since, in many a crisis in the Church of God. Failure has 
resulted from a lack of trust, or from a weakness of faith, and 
this, in turn, from a lack of prayerfulness. Many a failure in 
revival efforts has been traceable to the same cause. Faith had 
not been nurtured and made powerful by prayer. Neglect of the 
inner chamber is the solution of most spiritual failure. And this 
is as true of our personal struggles with the devil as was the 
case when we went forth to attempt to cast out devils. To be much 
on our knees in private communion with God is the only surety that 
we shall have Him with us either in our personal struggles, or in 
our efforts to convert sinners.
     Everywhere, in the approaches of the people to Him, our Lord 
put trust in Him, and the divinity of His mission, in the 
forefront. He gave no definition of trust, and He furnishes no 
theological discussion of, or analysis of it; for He knew that men 
would see what faith was by what faith did; and from its free 
exercise trust grew up, spontaneously, in His presence. It was the 
product of His work, His power and His Person. These furnished and 
created an atmosphere most favourable for its exercise and 
development. Trust is altogether too splendidly simple for verbal 
definition; too hearty and spontaneous for theological 
terminology. The very simplicity of trust is that which staggers 
many people. They look away for some great thing to come to pass, 
while all the time "the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and 
in thy heart."
     When the saddening news of his daughter's death was brought 
to Jairus our Lord interposed: "Be not afraid," He said calmly, 
"only believe." To the woman with the issue of blood, who stood 
tremblingly before Him, He said:
     "Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and 
be whole of thy plague."
     As the two blind men followed Him, pressing their way into 
the house, He said:
     "According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were 
     When the paralytic was let down through the roof of the 
house, where Jesus was teaching, and placed before Him by four of 
his friends, it is recorded after this fashion:
     "And Jesus seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the 
palsy: Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee."
     When Jesus dismissed the centurion whose servant was 
seriously ill, and who had come to Jesus with the prayer that He 
speak the healing word, without even going to his house, He did it 
in the manner following:
     "And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou 
hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed 
in the selfsame hour."
     When the poor leper fell at the feet of Jesus and cried out 
for relief, "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean," Jesus 
immediately granted his request, and the man glorified Him with a 
loud voice. Then Jesus said unto him, "Arise, go thy way; thy 
faith hath made thee whole."
     The Syrophenician woman came to Jesus with the case of her 
afflicted daughter, making the case her own, with the prayer, 
"Lord, help me," making a fearful and heroic struggle. Jesus 
honours her faith and prayer, saying:
     "O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou 
wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour."
     After the disciples had utterly failed to cast the devil out 
of the epileptic boy, the father of the stricken lad came to Jesus 
with the plaintive and almost despairing cry, "If Thou canst do 
anything, have compassion on us and help us." But Jesus replied, 
"If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that 
     Blind Bartimaeus sitting by the wayside, hears our Lord as He 
passes by, and cries out pitifully and almost despairingly, 
"Jesus, Thou son of David, have mercy on me." The keen ears of our 
Lord immediately catch the sound of prayer, and He says to the 
     "Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately 
he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."
     To the weeping, penitent woman, washing His feet with her 
tears and wiping them with the hair of her head, Jesus speaks 
cheering, soul-comforting words: "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in 
     One day Jesus healed ten lepers at one time, in answer to 
their united prayer, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us," and He 
told them to go and show themselves to the priests. "And it came 
to pass as they went, they were cleansed."