This is an excerpt from D.L. Moody's book Prevailing Prayer. It comes from the chapter entitled "Faith" and speaks to the necessity of fervency in prayer. Before I ever read these words, I began asking people to pray for my prayer life, and yesterday God answered those prayers through a stranger who randomly shared this book with me in a coffee house. These words have stirred me to pray in a new and powerful way, and I thank God for the revelation of such amazing truth - a beautifully gracious answer to my less-than-fervent prayers. The bow and arrow analogy, in particular, has stood out to me as a helpful illustration:
"Bishop Hall, in a well-known extract, thus puts the point of earnestness in its relation to the prayer of faith.
'An arrow, if it be drawn up but a little way, goes not far; but, if it be pulled up to the head, flies swiftly and pierces deep. Thus prayer, if it be only dribbled forth from careless lips, falls at our feet. It is the strength of ejaculation and strong desire which sends it to heaven, and makes it pierce the clouds. It is not the arithmetic of our prayers, how many they are; nor the rhetoric of our prayers, how eloquent they be; nor the geometry of our prayers, how long they be; nor the music of our prayers, how sweet our voice may be; nor the logic of our prayers, how argumentative they may be; nor the method of pur prayers, how orderly they may be; nor even the divinity of our prayers, how good the doctrine may be;—which God cares for. He looks not for the horny knees which James is said to have had through the assiduity of prayer. We might be like Bartholomew, who is said to have had a hundred prayers for the morning, and as many for the evening, and all might be of no avail. Fervency of spirit is that which availeth much.'
Archbishop Leighton says: 'It is not the gilded paper and good writing of a petition that prevails with a king, but the moving sense of it. And to that King who discerns the heart, heart-sense is the sense of all, and that which He only regards. He listens to hear what that speaks, and takes all as nothing where that is silent. All other excellence in prayer is but the outside and fashion of it. This is the life of it.'
Brooks says: 'As a painted fire is no fire, a dead man no man, so a cold prayer is no prayer. In a painted fire there is no heat, in a dead man there is no life; so in a cold prayer there is no omnipotency, no devotion, no blessing. Cold prayers are as arrows without heads, as swords without edges, as birds without wings; they pierce not, they cut not, they fly not up to heaven. Cold prayers do always freeze before they get to heaven. Oh that Christians would chide themselves out of their cold prayers, and chide themselves into a better and warmer frame of spirit, when they make their supplications to the Lord!'"