Image of E.M. Bounds


Lifetime: 1835 - 1913 Passed: ≈ 110 years ago


Clergy, Attorney, Author


United States

E.M. Bounds

Edward McKendree Bounds prominently known as E.M. Bounds, was an American author, attorney, and member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South clergy. He is known for writing 11 books, nine of which focused on the subject of prayer. Only two of Bounds' books were published before he died. After his death, Rev. Claudius (Claude) Lysias Chilton, Jr., grandson of William Parish Chilton and admirer of Bounds, worked on preserving and preparing Bounds' collection of manuscripts for publication. By 1921, Homer W. Hodge completed additional editorial work.

Edward McKendree Bounds was born on August 15, 1835, in Shelbyville, Missouri. After his father's death, 14-year-old Bounds joined several other relatives in a trek to Mesquite Canyon in California, following the discovery of gold in the area. After four unsuccessful years, they returned to Missouri. Bounds studied law in Hannibal, Missouri, after which, at age 19, he became the youngest practicing lawyer in the state of Missouri. Although apprenticed as an attorney, Bounds felt called to Christian ministry in his early twenties during the Third Great Awakening. Following a brush arbor revival meeting led by Evangelist Smith Thomas, he closed his law office and moved to Palmyra, Missouri to enroll in the Centenary Seminary. Two years later, in 1859 at the age of 24, he was ordained by his denomination and was named pastor of the nearby Monticello, Missouri Methodist Church.

Bounds' first marriage was to Emma (Emmie) Elizabeth Barnett from Washington, Georgia on September 19, 1876. They had two daughters, Celeste and Corneille, and a son, Edward. Emmie died on February 18, 1886.

E.M. Bounds did not support slavery. But, because he was a pastor at a congregation in the recently formed Methodist Episcopal Church South, his name was included in a list of 250 names who were to take an oath of allegiance and post a $500 bond. Edward saw no reason for a U.S. Citizen to take such an oath, he was morally opposed to the Union raising funds in this way, and he didn't have the $500. Bounds and the others on the list were arrested in 1861 by Union troops, and Bounds was charged as a Confederate sympathizer. He was held with other non-combatants in a Federal prison in St. Louis for a year and a half. He was then transferred to Memphis and released in a prisoner exchange between the Union and the Confederacy.

Upon his release as a prisoner of the Union Army, he felt compelled to return to war-torn Franklin and help rebuild it spiritually, and he became the pastor of the Franklin Methodist Episcopal Church, South. His primary method was to establish weekly prayer sessions that sometimes lasted several hours. Bounds was regionally celebrated for leading spiritual revival in Franklin and eventually began an itinerant preaching ministry throughout the country.

After serving several important churches in St. Louis and other places, south, he became Editor of the St. Louis Christian Advocate for eight years and, later, Associate Editor of The Nashville Christian Advocate for four years. The trial of his faith came to him while in Nashville, and he quietly retired to his home without asking even a pension. His principal work in Washington, Georgia (his home) was rising at 4 am and praying until 7 am. He filled a few engagements as an evangelist during the eighteen years of his lifework. "While on speaking engagements, he would not neglect his early morning time in prayer, and cared nothing for the protests of the other occupants of his room at being awakened so early. No man could have made more melting appeals for lost souls and backslidden ministers than did Bounds. Tears ran down his face as he pleaded for us all in that room."

Books by E.M. Bounds

The Essentials of Prayer Cover image

The Essentials of Prayer


The Sunday School Times says of the author, "he was a specialist in prayer and his books are for the quiet hour, for careful meditation and for all who wish to seek and find the treasures of God." This book is a ready helper for those who want to fol...