Conntecting the Dots

Short Prayers are Okay


What’s prayer, anyway? I like J. I. Packer’s definition: “The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God’s hand, but a humble acknowledgement of helplessness and dependence.”

prayer is not

Prayer takes different forms. Sometimes it’s liturgical and recited aloud in a formal church setting. Sometimes it’s private, penned in one’s journal for only the author to see. Prayer might follow a formula such as ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication), or it might be a simple one word—“Help!”


Psalm 107:1-43 contains four instances where people prayed using only the word, “Help!” Here’s one example—“Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. ‘Lord, help!’ they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress.”


Prayers don’t need to be long and eloquent to be effective. Short ones—“Help!”—whispered or cried from a heart that truly recognizes one’s need for God’s provision or intervention can stir Him to answer.


If you’re an exhausted parent, you can cry, “Help!”

If your marriage is failing, you can cry, “Help!”

If you’re wrestling with a major decision, you can cry, “Help!”


Never hesitate to pray because you think your words don’t sound spiritual enough. Who’s to say what “spiritual enough” is, anyway? God’s most concerned about our heart attitude. Prayer is our way to show Him that we understand our need for Him, and we want and welcome His involvement in our lives.


NOTE: My latest devotional book, Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm, contains 90 brief, focused meditations to settle our hearts when the winds blow. Each meditation provides a sentence prayer for those days when we don’t know how to pray. Available wherever Christian books are sold.

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