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The Power of Short Prayers

Sometimes you hear Christians say, “I do not know how to pray.” If by this they mean they could not pray the long, flowery prayers we sometimes hear, there is a sense in which this is a blessing. Remember what Jesus said about praying. “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be hard for their many words” (Matt. 6:7). Long prayers are not wrong, unless they are filled with empty words or unless the one praying them thinks the length of the prayer is a measure of how powerful a prayer is. Consider some of the powerful short prayers in the Bible.

Lord, save me.” The apostles had just been part of one of the most astounding miracles of Jesus. He had taken five loaves and two small fish and fed 5,000 men (not counting women and children). That night (actually it was during the fourth watch—somewhere between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.) their boat was about to sink because of the storm. When they saw Jesus walking to them, Peter asked Jesus to bid him to walk to the Lord. It was an amazing step of faith which started his journey, but when he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the waves, he began to sink. His prayer was, “Lord, save me” (Matt. 14:30). It is the shortest prayer in the Bible. It was all that was needed.

God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Two men entered the temple to pray at the hour of prayer. One prayed “with himself” and the other prayed “unto heaven.” The first told God what a good man he had been and how righteous he was. The other’s humility would not even allow him to raise his eyes toward heaven. He pounded his chest as a sign of his distress and simply prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Think of the power of this short prayer.

Lord, increase our faith.” Jesus had just described how His followers must forgive a penitent brother who sinned against them seven times in a single day. We may struggle to forgive a person who wrongs us once in a lifetime, or at best we may think, “Three strikes and you are out.” However, the Lord looked at seven events in just one day. The apostles’ response was, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). His response to them was to describe how the smallest faith can cast a mulberry tree into the sea. Having trouble dealing with your life? Their prayer should be your prayer.

Want to enhance your relationship with the Lord? Think of these short prayers (or others that fit your particular situation) and pray them throughout your life. We sing about the “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” but it might help us all to spend more time in those “sweet minutes” of prayer in which our short prayers have such power!