E. M. Bounds was a Civil War era pastor and chaplain who is known for his prolific writings on prayer. In an essay entitled, “Prayer and the house of God,” in The complete works of E. M. Bounds on prayer, he describes how prayer enhances preaching.
Here then is the scriptural definition of preaching. (He had previously described how Ezra read the book of the Law.) No better definition can be given. To read the Word of God distinctly–to read it so that the people could hear and understand the words read; not to mumble out the words, not read it in an undertone or with indistinctness, but boldly and clearly–that was the method followed in Jerusalem, on this auspicious day. Moreover: the sense of the words was made clear in the meeting held before the water gate; the people were treated to a high type of expository preaching. That was true preaching–preaching of a sort which is sorely needed, today, in order that God’s Word may have due effect on the hearts of the people. This meeting in Jerusalem surely contains a lesson which all present-day preachers should learn and heed.
No one having any knowledge of the existing facts, will deny the comparative lack of expository preaching in the pulpit effort of today. And none, we should, at least, imagine, will do other than lament the lack. Topical preaching, polemical preaching, historical preaching, and other forms of sermonic output have, one supposes, their rightful and opportune uses. But expository preaching–the prayerful expounding of the Word of God is preaching that is preaching–pulpit effort par excellence.
For its successful accomplishment, however, a preacher needs must be a man of prayer. For every hour spent in his study-chair, he will have to spend two upon his knees. For every hour he devotes to wrestling with an obscure passage of Scripture, he must have two in which to be found wrestling with God. Prayer and preaching: preaching and prayer! They cannot be separated. The ancient cry was: “To your tents, O Israel!” The modern cry should be: “To your knees, O preachers, to your knees!”
When I read Bounds, I am continually reminded and challenged to spend more time in prayer. I need to heed his cry.