Mark 9:24 “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Matthew 6:5-7 “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that the may be seen of men.  Verily, I say unto you.  They have their reward.  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Jeremiah Lanphier’s first handbills to invite the community to the lunchtime prayer meetings in lower Manhattan also contained the following powerful reminder about the spiritual importance of heart-felt, fervent prayer: 

I often say my prayers –
But do I ever pray?
Or do the wishes of my heart
Suggest the words I say?

It is useless to implore,
Unless I feel my need,
Unless it is from a sense of want
That all my prayers proceed.

I may as well kneel down
And worship gods of stone,
As offer to the living God
A prayer of words alone.

For words without the heart
The Lord will never hear;
Nor will he ever those regard
Whose prayers are insincere.

Lord! Teach me what I want,
And teach me how to pray;
Nor let me e’er implore thy grace,
Not feeling what I say.

Potent prayer is not to be a passionless ritual.  Nor is it to be a public performance.  Instead, it is to be heartfelt.  It is to be fervent.  It is to be faith-filled.  It is to be buoyed by a life directed towards righteousness though mindful of personal shortcomings.  It is to be supported by heavenward calls for enhanced faithfulness and strengthened belief.  It is to be characterized by less mouth-produced-content and more heart-felt-conviction.  It is to be filled with feeling and full of fervency.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO PRAY FOR OUR NATION WITH PASSION AND CONVICTION.  May the characteristics of our prayer-life be ever-mindful that we pray to a living God and not to gods of stone.