The Life of E. M. Bounds


What Others Say About E.M. Bounds




E. M. Bounds in his book "Prayer and Praying Men", wrote "Elijah learned new and higher lessons of prayer while hidden away by God and with God . . " This statement is certainly also true of its author. E. M. Bounds was a man hidden away by God and with God in prayer. During his lifetime he never attracted a large following or gained the success and reputation that one might expect.

After forty-six years of faithful ministry he still was virtually unknown. Out of the eight classics on prayer he wrote, only two were published during his lifetime. Though hidden and unrecognized while alive, E.M. Bounds is now considered by most evangelicals as the most prolific and fervent author on the subject of prayer.

E. M. Bounds was born on August 15th, 1835 and died on August 24th, 1913. Some may be surprised by this fact, assuming Bounds to be a contemporary author, because of his clear and forthright writing style. As a young man E. M. Bounds practiced law until feeling called to the ministry. He was ordained a Methodist minister in 1859. E. M. Bounds also served as a Confederate Army Chaplain during the Civil War. As a result he was captured and held as a prisoner of war for a short time.

After his incarceration, Bounds returned to Franklin, Tennessee, where he and Confederate Troops had suffered a bloody defeat. Bounds could not forget about Franklin, where so many had been ravaged by the Civil War. "When Brother Bounds came to Franklin he found the Church in a wretched state". Immediately he sought out a half dozen men who really believed in the power of prayer.

Every Tuesday night they got on their knees to pray for revival, for themselves, the Church and the town. "For over a year this faithful band called upon the Lord until God finally answered by fire. The revival came down without any previous announcement or plan, and without the pastor sending for an evangelist to help him."

It became increasingly apparent that E. M. Bounds was gifted in building and reviving the Church. This prophet of prayer often made preachers uncomfortable with his call for holiness and his attacks on lusting for money, prestige and power. "His constant call for revival annoyed those who believed that the Church was essentially sound . . ." God gave him a great prayer commission, requiring daily intercession.

He labored in prayer for the sanctification of preachers, revival of the Church in North America and the spread of holiness among professing Christians. He spent a minimum of three to four hours a day in fervent prayer. "Sometimes the venerable mystic would lie flat on his back and talk to God; but many hours were spent on his knees or lying face down where he could be heard weeping . . ."

W. H. Hodge, who is responsible for putting most of Bounds' writings into print, gives us some personal insights into Bounds' life. He writes, "I have been among many ministers and slept in the same room with them for several years. They prayed, but I was never impressed with any special praying among them until one day a small man with gray hair and an eye like an eagle came along. We had a ten day convention.

We had some fine preachers around the home, and one of them was assigned to my room. I was surprised early next morning to see a man bathing himself before day and then see him get down and begin to pray. I said to myself, 'He will not disturb us, but will soon finish', he kept on softly for hours, interceding and weeping softly, for me and my indifference, and for all the ministers of God. He spoke the next day on prayer.

I became interested for I was young in the ministry, and had often desired to meet with a man of God that prayed like the saints of the Apostolic age. Next morning he was up praying again, and for ten days he was up early praying for hours. I became intensely interested and thanked God for sending him. 'At last,' I said, I have found a man that really prays. I shall never let him go. He drew me to him with hooks of steel."

E. M. Bounds was a Methodist Pastor around the time of the American Civil War. At the age of 58, and for the next nineteen years (till he went home to be with the Lord at age 77), he started and continued to write books. The rest of his time was spent in intercessory prayer and in an itinerant revival ministry. It is said that he prayed daily from 4 A.M. to 7 A.M. before he would begin work on his writings.

E. M. Bounds was born in Missouri in 1835. He studied deeply in the scriptures, and was greatly inspired by the writings of John Wesley. At the age of twenty-four he felt called to be a preacher, and became pastor of a small Methodist congregation in Monticello, Missouri.

In 1861 Bounds was Arrested by Union Troops and Held with Other Non-combatants in a Federal Prison for a Year and a Half

In 1861 he was arrested by Union troops, and held with other non-combatants in a Federal prison for a year and a half. Released in a prisoner trade, he served as a Chaplain with the Confederacy. After the war, he became Associate Editor of the Christian Advocate, official weekly paper for the entire Methodist Episcopal Church.

Rev. Edward McKendrie Bounds was passionately devoted to his beloved Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. His devotion was extraordinary in that he was praying and writing about Him all the time, except during the hours of sleeping.

God gave Bounds an enlargedness of heart and an insatiable desire to do service for Him. To this end he enjoyed what I am pleased to term a transcendent inspiration, else he could never have brought out of his treasury things new and old far exceeding anything we have known or read in the last half century.

Bounds is easily the Betelguese of the devotional sky. There is no man that has lived since the days of the apostles that has surpassed him in the depths of his marvelous research into the Life of Prayer.

He was busily engaged in writing on his manuscripts when the Lord said unto him, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord.” His letters would often come to me in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1911, 1912 and 1913,saying, “Pray for me that God will give me new nerves and new visions to finish the manuscripts.”

During the last 25 years of the nineteenth century and a score of years of the twentieth, there lived and died three great men of God whom I knew—men whom God has doubtless numbered among the foremost of His heavenly host. The first was Edward McKendree Bounds, author of this present volume and the other “Spiritual Life” Books.

The second was Claud L. Chilton, minister for many years in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and a musical composer of religious music of considerable note. The third, Clement C. Cary, preacher and editor, lost his life in an automobile accident in 1922. The fourth was Dr. B. F. Haynes, minister, editor and author, who died in Nashville, in 1923.

What Dr. Thomas Goodwin, the Puritan, was to Strong, Arrowsmith and Sparstow; what John Wesley was to Whitefield, Fletcher and Clark, Bounds was to Chilton, Cary and Haynes. What David Brainerd’s Journal did for Cary, Martyn, McCheyne, Bounds’ books can do for thousands of God’s children. He was a man who lived ever on prayer ground. He walked and talked with the Lord. Prayer was the great weapon in his arsenal, his pathway to the Throne of Grace. None who read what he has written can fail of realising that Edward McKendree Bounds talked with God, as a man talketh to his friend.

Homer W. Hodgem, Flushing, N.Y.

Wesley was of the sweetest and most forgiving disposition, but when aroused he was a man of the “keenest penetration with a gift of speech that bit like the stroke of a whip.” Bounds was meek and humble, and never did we know him to retaliate upon any of his enemies. He cried over them and wept praying for them early and late.

Wesley was easily gulled. “My brother,” said Charles, on one occasion in disgusting accents, “was, I believe, born for the benefit of knaves.” No man could impose on Bounds’ credulity. He was a diagnostician of rare ability. Bounds shied away from all frauds in profession, and would waste no time upon them.

Wesley was preaching and riding all day. Bounds was praying and writing day and night.

Wesley would not allow any misrepresentation of his doctrinal positions in his late years. Bounds in this respect was very much like him.

Wesley came to his fame while yet alive. He was always in the public eye. Bounds, while editing a Christian Advocate for twelve years, was little known out of his church.

Wesley at eighty-six could still preach on the streets for thirty minutes. Bounds was able at seventy-five in the first hour of the fourth watch to pray for three hours upon his knees.

Wesley, at the time of his death had enjoyed fifty-six years of preferment. His name was on every tongue. Christianity was born again in England under his mighty preaching and organization. Bounds was comparatively unknown for fifty years but will recover the “lost and forgotten secret of the church” in the next fifty years.

Wesley’s piety and genius and popularity flowed from his early life like a majestic river. Bounds’ has been dammed up, but now it is beginning to sweep with resistless force and ere long he will be the mighty Amazon of the devotional world.

Henry Crabbe Robinson said in his diary when he heard Wesley preach at Colchester, “He stood in a wide pulpit and on each side of him stood a minister, and the two held him up. His voice was feeble and he could hardly be heard, but his reverend countenance, especially his long white locks, formed a picture never to be forgotten.”

The writer of these lines gave up his pulpit in Brooklyn in 1912 to Rev. E. M. Bounds just ten months before his death. His voice was feeble and his periods were not rounded out. His sermon was only twenty minutes long, when he quietly came to the end and seemed exhausted.

Wesley had sufficient money and to spare during all his career. Bounds did not care for money. He did not depreciate it; he considered it the lowest order of power.

Wesley died with “an eye beaming and lips breaking into praise.” “The best of all is God with us,” Bounds wrote the writer of these lines. “When He is ready I am ready; I long to taste the joys of the heavenlies.”

Wesley said, “The World is my parish.” Bounds prayed as if the universe was his zone.

Wesley was the incarnation of unworldliness, the embodiment of magnanimity. Bounds was the incarnation of unearthliness, humility and self-denial. Wesley will live in the hearts of saints for everlasting ages. Bounds eternally.

Wesley sleeps in City Road Chapel grounds, among his “bonny dead,” under marble, with fitting tribute chiseled in prose, awaiting the Resurrection. Bounds sleeps in Washington, Georgia, cemetery, without marble covering, awaiting the Bridegroom’s coming.

These two men held ideals high and dear beyond the reach of other men. Has this race of men entirely gone out of the world now that they are dead? Let us pray.

In closing let us consider some of E. M. Bounds' remarks on revival, "Revivals are among the charter rights of the Church . . . A revival means a heartbroken pastor. A revival means a church on its knees confessing its sins - the sins of the individual and of the Church - confessing the sins of the times and of the community."

Bounds Works on Prayer    Bounds Works on Prayer   
Bounds Works on Prayer