The Parashas Vayechi begins with Jacobís request to Joseph to bury him in the land of Israel. Jacob tells Joseph that for doing this he will receive the City of Shechem that Jacob won from the Amorites bícharbi u víkashti, (with my sword and my arrow). The Sages tell us that the meaning of bícharbi u víkashti is with my prayers and my requests. Why is prayer compared to the sword and the arrow?
The Brisker Rov explains that there is a basic difference between a sword and an arrow. A sword can come inherently sharp. Touching its blade, even without much effort, can cause tremendous damage. The arrow, on the other hand, is only as dangerous as the strength of the person who shoots it. The stronger that person is, the more power goes into the effect of the arrow. So too in prayer. There are two types of prayer. There are the prayers that the Men of Great Assembly, Anshai Kíneses Hagedolah made for all of us. Those are the daily prayers that we all constantly say. The wording is identical for every Jew in every situation. These great Sages with their great spiritual powers were able to create prayers that have tremendous power. This is a prayer compared to a sword, in of its own has tremendous power.
There is another type of prayer. That is the prayer that every Jew utters in a time of need asking Hashem for help. That prayer has no set form or manner. It just comes from the heart of the Jew. That prayer is compared to the arrow. Its effect depends upon how deep the feelings and how sincere the requests are.
May Hashem hear all our prayers and answer them as He knows is best for us.