The Preciousness of Prayer
Here is an excerpt (long but worth it) from a piece that I keep coming back to. I often take an apathetic stance towards prayer. I just have trouble believeing that it works. Anyway, this is from Octavious Winslow's "The Preciousness of Prayer." You can find the whole thing on the site www.monergism.com.
If there be an argument which establishes beyond all dispute the doctrine of the fall, and the necessity of a restored and regenerated nature, it is the fact, that from it nothing that is holy, spiritual, or good emanates. The moral soil is so utterly degenerate, that even the flowers which adorn it—the natural virtues still clinging to our humanity—are, in the sight of a holy God, but as noxious weeds, destined finally and utterly to perish. Such was the complete wreck, such the entire paralysis of our nature. "In my flesh," says the apostle, dwells no good thing." If, then, in the midst of this utter and universal corruption, there should be found springing any bud, or blossom, or fruit of real holiness—anything truly gracious, spiritual, heavenly—it must be the product of a divine principle, of a new nature implanted within us by God the Holy Spirit. A striking proof and illustration of this is presented in the subject of this chapter. There exists not a more undoubted evidence of a renewed nature than—PRAYER. The absence of it is the unmistakable evidence of—death; its existence a palpable and positive evidence of—life. Prayer is the most vital, spiritual, and pure emanation of the indwelling of the Spirit in the soul. If, in a case of suspended animation, we marked the slightest symptom of life—the gentlest heaving of the heart—the faintest moisture breathed upon the surface of a mirror—we should certainly hail it as proof of the existence of the vital principle. We should not ask for strong spasmodic action, and postpone all efforts to rouse the dormant pulse, before we pronounced the individual alive. We should be satisfied that the spark still glowed, and this would reassure our hope, and animate our labor. Prayer is the spiritual life of the renewed soul. There may be the absence of profound religious knowledge, great depth of Christian experience, fiery zeal and gigantic energy—nevertheless, if of one thus apparently dormant it is said, "Behold he prays!"—if, in the secret walk, all deeply veiled from human eye, there is fellowship with God, communion with the Invisible,—there is life—life divine, life spiritual, life eternal. To change the figure—here is a plant of righteousness growing in a corrupt soil, here is a flower of holiness blooming and exhaling amid sin, corruption, and death! Surely this cannot be indigenous to our fallen humanity, but must be a seedling, a germ, a graft from the paradise of God. Among the most precious things of God is this—the principle and spirit, the power and sweetness of—PRAYER.