What a mystery prayer is! I wish I understood it better. But I do thank God that the power of it does not depend on being able to explain it, any more than the light in the office depends upon my knowing all about electricity.
Looking back on my own experience, I can see that my private prayer has come to be of two distinct kinds. The kind of praying I first learned was that definite closing out of all other doings and settling down to pray only. No one day can be complete without some such scheduled time.
The other grew out of the first. I mean that life of prayer which belongs to everything; that spontaneous lifting of the heart to God that becomes the habit of the soul. It would be difficult now to say which is the more precious, or which means the most to me. Both have to be cultivated.
In how many hearts has prayer been more a form than a life, more the performance of a duty than the expression of a desire, until the spirit of prayer was born in some dark night’s struggle. Without doubt, in my own life the darkness of temptation and sorrow has taught me to pray—to wrestle before God until my soul found strength to go up to its Calvary.
Oh, never, never let the devil persuade you that your praying does not count! It does. And no heart need be without the proof of it, but it must be fervent, persistent, believing!
I am seldom helped by feelings in my own religious experience; but the times when I have been especially conscious of the presence and power of God have been chiefly during seasons of prayer for others. These seem to have brought me nearest to the heart of Jesus.
That other sort of praying is to my soul-life, more what breathing is to the body. The prayer that is breathed in a moment ensures the kind word, when, without it, the hasty one might so easily have been spoken; courage to act, when apart from it, an opportunity of witnessing or sowing might have been missed.
Yes, the silent prayer of an instant has preserved the integrity of the heart and saved the soul from the stain of sin again and again. And the strength of that continual communion with God, which becomes so natural that it is more like talking a matter over with one you love, has enabled so great a host of God’s own children to be walking with Him in heavenly places, and has kept them in a heavenly spirit, when things round about were very earthly.
Catherine Bramwell-Booth, Messages to the Messengers