"Arrange your affairs, if possible, so that you can leisurely devote two or three hours every day, not merely to devotional exercises, but to the very act of secret prayer and communication with God... lift up your soul to God in private retirement. Begin the day by rising... and devoting some time amid the silence to this sacred work... Be resolute to His cause. Make all practical sacrifices to maintain it. Consider that your time is short and that business and company must not be allowed to rob you of your God." -A. Judson
Can I be completely candid with y'all? The last week and half has been really difficult for me. Really difficult. I have experienced physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion, and it has affected both my attitude and my closest relationships. I have been frustrated, confused, troubled and upset - and was less than pleasant to be around (bless the hearts of my friends who stuck around to encourage and pray for me)! I realized that the reason why I was so "off" was because I had not been spending enough time in God's presence, in His Word, and especially not in prayer.
Then one morning, after waking up earlier than usual and pouring my daily cup of coffee, I sat in the big comfy chair in the living room and opened up my Bible to the Old Testament. My bookmark was holding the place where I'd last been reading, between Ruth and 1 Samuel. I began to read the words of the first chapter, and it was not but a few minutes later that I was struck by something that Hannah - who was praying fervently to God - said in verse 15: "...I was pouring out my soul to the LORD... I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief." Did you catch that? Hannah wasn't just simply praying; she was pouring out her soul to God, giving Him everything, including her worries, her fears, and her requests. And later on in the story, we come to find that God blessed her with exactly what she was asking for: a son, whom she named Samuel (see 1 Sam. 1:1-20).
Since that day, I have felt differently about prayer. I've felt more passionate about it - though that's not to say that I began practicing it differently... at least not until a few days ago. I was at work while my staff began praying during our weekly prayer meeting, and I had the privilege of praying for a father and son who had made the decision to be baptized after eight years of people praying for them. In that moment, I felt the Holy Spirit moving mightily, and it was then that I realized how powerful prayer can truly be! Later that day, one of my best friends texted me as he was having a hard day, and I thought, "I should really pray for him later!" But why later? So, instead, as I was driving on the highway with the song "One Thing Remains" blasting, I prayed for him. Out loud. I probably looked like I was crazy, but I didn't care! I prayed for him right then and there, and I felt pretty in tune with the Spirit. Then, when I was hanging out around campus that night, I had the opportunity to pray for a friend when she was in need of prayer, and - again - it felt as though God was very present! Since that day, not only has my attitude improved drastically, but I have found myself more excited about prayer than I've ever been before, more eager to pray for others out loud, and more enabled to pray whenever I feel the tinge of its necessity (such as when I am flustered, or when temptation enters into my mind).
So, all that to say, I urge you to never underestimate the power of prayer. Ever. We have been given one of the most powerful weapons possible with prayer! Pray daily, continually, and without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And prayer is not only powerful, but also effective. I challenge you to pray right now, and over the course of the next few days, watch the ways in which the Lord works in your life and the lives of those you're praying for/over. He is faithful to the prayers of His loved ones, so be prepared for Him to show up!
"No one who is not a person of prayer can can do any great and enduring work."
Recommended reading: Power Through Prayer by E.M. Bounds