The 3 Most Effective Prayers

The most effective prayers are often the simplest. Here are three of the shortest and simplest prayers you can pray. They are also among the most powerful prayers you can pray. Yet they are often the hardest and the most neglected.

1. I confess

Confession is a way to acknowledge sins that are hidden and perhaps stuck in our hearts. This is where we pray like King David in Psalm 139:23-24, asking God to search our hearts. When we keep things hidden in our hearts, or don’t realize what’s in our hearts, we block God’s blessings. Confession frees us to be who God created us to be.

The prayer of confession can be as simple as this:

Dear God, I confess that ____. Please forgive me. In Jesus’ name. Amen

2. I repent

Repentance is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. John the Baptist tells us, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2 NKJV) John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah. When we repent, we prepare our hearts to receive the fullness of life Jesus brings us.

God knows we will make mistakes. He knows we carry sin, not only from our own lives, but also from our generational lines. But through Christ, God offers us the opportunity to turn away from those sins (repentance is a 180-degree turning away). Repentance frees us to live the life God intends for us to live.

When you confess the sins you hold in your heart, you can follow that prayer with repentance:

God, I repent for _________. Help me to turn to You instead and to receive the life You have given me. In Jesus’ name. Amen

3. I forgive

Forgiveness is also an amazing gift from God. Forgiveness not only frees us, but it also frees the people who have hurt us. This means God can work in their hearts too. God can change their hearts if we are willing to let go of our offenses.

Forgiveness does not mean, “It’s okay that you hurt me.” Forgiveness simply (and powerfully) means allowing God to deal with the situation on our behalf. We choose not to hold our hurt against the other person. We let that person go and move on with our lives.

One of the best articles I’ve read on forgivness is by Kerri Johnson of The Center for Inner Healing. She teaches about forgiveness in a very real, down-to-earth way that we can all relate to. Here, you can read her insightful article: “Wash, Rinse, Repeat.”

The prayer of forgiveness goes like this:

Dear God, I choose to forgive ______ (name of the person who hurt you) for _______ (what that person did to hurt you). In Jesus’ name. Amen

If you don’t feel able to forgive someone yet, start with this:

Dear God, I want to forgive _______ for ________. Please help me be able to forgive. In Jesus’ name. Amen

When you first forgive someone, you might not feel any change emotionally. That is okay. God simply asks for our obedience in forgiving others. Your emotions will eventually line up with your prayer of forgiveness, as God brings healing to your heart.

Try to pray each of these three prayers this week: I confess. I repent. I forgive. Start with something small; work your way up to bigger things. Pay attention to the freedom you will feel when you have prayed these prayers. God will respond in powerful ways.

Praying through Scary Moments

I was house sitting in the countryside. It was a big house on a hill in an isolated area of a mostly rural county. Except for the dog and the cat, I was alone.

I was relaxing on my day off when I looked out the window and saw a man walking around the property. Something about his demeanor seemed strange. He was very large with an intimidating build. His car was pulled to the side of the driveway and it looked a little beat up with out of state tags. He alternated between standing in the yard and walking around the house very slowly.

I hid in an inner room where he couldn’t see me but I could glance outside. My heart was pounding. What was I supposed to do? Should I stay hidden and hope he went away? That seemed the most logical thing to do except the longer he stayed, the more terrified I became. I wanted to open the door, ask him what he was doing and tell him to leave, but I didn’t dare let him know I was there.

I thought about sending the dog out but I didn’t want the dog to be hurt. I considered calling the sheriff but what if this was an innocent misunderstanding? I was house sitting, after all. The house owner was going through a lot of trauma and may have forgotten to tell me about someone coming by the house legitimately to work.

“God, please help me.” I prayed that over and over. I remembered stories about large angels showing up in human form to protect someone. “Now would be a good time to send them!”

My prayers were answered with a flash of wisdom. I called the neighbor. Asked if she knew of anyone coming by to work at the house, or if she could even see him out her window and recognize him. The neighbor said she would drive over and help me in getting the man to identify himself, or we would call the sheriff.

At that point, I looked out the window and he was gone.

I was able to breathe again, but now I was spooked. During the first few weeks in this house, I had felt completely safe, and now that sense of security was gone. What if the man came back? I felt very exposed, isolated, alone.

“I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust” (Psalm 91:2 NKJV).

I sent a message asking several of my friends to pray: for protection with angelic guards, as well as a sense of security and peace. Fear has always been the enemy’s best weapon against me. Now I decided to face my fears and stand my ground. Why should I be afraid? I knew God was with me. I made a decision then and there not to let the enemy intimidate me.

My first instinct had been to ask the house owner to send in someone else and let me go home, where I felt safe. My second instinct was to stay, but be well hidden – draw the drapes during the day, stay where no one could see me, not go outside to play with the dog again. But I finally realized those sounded like tactics of the enemy. And here’s the thing about the enemy: he has already been defeated. I have the weapons of God: worship, prayer, power, love, sound mind, and standing my ground, clothed in God’s armor. He is my refuge. Why should I be afraid?

When I made that decision to stand, unafraid, I felt free. I had peace.

Shortly after that, the house owner called me, apologizing that she had forgotten to tell me about a man coming to cut down some trees. She described him and it was the man who had been walking around the house. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Everything was fine.

I was still alone in a big house, on the top of a mountain, in an isolated part of a mostly rural county. But my sense of peace, security, and well-being was restored. I knew God had me, and now I probably had more angelic guards than before, in response to the cry of my heart, the prayers of my friends, and God’s goodness.

When I had called the neighbor and sent prayer requests to my friends, I admitted I felt like a wimp. I know I have fear issues and my friends know it too. But they all assured me I had done the right thing. One friend reminded me that prayer was important in bringing peace during scary moments. Often when we are afraid, we can’t find it in ourselves to pray more than, “Help!” Others can pray for us – especially others who know our personal fear issues, and others who know the reality of a single woman staying alone in an isolated location.

When you are afraid, pray. And even more importantly, ask others to pray for you and with you. Don’t hesitate, thinking, “I’m a wimp.” You are not a wimp. You are simply afraid. God is the answer to your fears. Invite Him with your prayers – and enlist the prayers of others to stand with you in faith.

What Does Prayer Mean to You?

As a prayer missionary, I’m interested to learn what prayer means to people.

I often ask people: What does a prayer life look like to you? What does prayer mean to you? How has your life changed because of your prayer time with God?

Meanwhile, I came across this delightful article about prayer. It is from a Catholic perspective, and my background is Protestant, so this was a wonderful learning experience for me. What I love most about this article is how it captures both the significance and simplicity of prayer. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did:

This article offers 6 tips for prayer. My challenge to you, after you read the article, is to choose one tip to focus on each day this week – or one tip to focus on each week for the next 6 weeks.

God bless you in your prayer life.

Ask for a Prayer Strategy

Your prayers are powerful. Because of that power, you want to be sure you are praying in a way that aligns with God’s will.

That doesn’t mean you can only pray, “Thy will be done.” I know folks who feel most comfortable praying this way, and I understand it. I honor their desire to be careful in what they pray. But we can be more specific with our prayers, as long as we align these with God’s will. We need to ask God for a prayer strategy.

In Romans 8:26, God lets us know the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what to pray. He is there to guide us. God wants to direct our prayers. When we pray, we are inviting Him to do what He already desires and intends to do. So He knows how to lead our prayers.

That’s where we ask Him for a prayer strategy. It is the same thing as saying, “God, I am inviting You do to what You want to do. Please tell me what to invite. What do You want to do in this situation?”

In John 14:13-14, Jesus reveals a lot about how to ask according to His will. As you read those verses, expand your reading to all of John 14. Jesus reminds us that He is the way, the truth, and the life; that He works in us by our belief in Him, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, for God’s glory. He reminds us that if we keep His commandments, this is a sign of our love for Him. It is in this context that when we ask in His name, HE will accomplish what we ask.

So if we live by His will, then we will ask according to His will, and He will do what He already intends to do. That is what our prayers invite. And that is why, when we are living according to His will, we can ask Him for a prayer strategy, so we pray in alignment with Him. If we are living in alignment with Him, we will have peace that we are praying in alignment with Him. The Holy Spirit will prompt us if our prayers are off base. The more sensitive we become to His Spirit, the more we can feel this and change course.

The prayer strategy God gives us will always line up with His Word and His nature. That’s the best way we can check to be sure we’re hearing from God.

If you feel uncertain of how to pray in a situation, begin to pray God’s Word. John 3:16 is a great verse to pray in any situation. For “the world,” substitute the name of the person you are praying for. Psalm 1 is also a great Bible passage to pray for someone, claiming that God has created that person to be that tree planted by water bringing forth fruit. Psalm 139:14 is also a great verse to pray for everyone.

As you start to pray God’s Word, and attune your heart to His, you will begin to sense other Bible verses to pray.

And you can always pray by inviting God to come and do what He desires to do in any situation: “Lord, come and do what You intend to do.” That is the same as praying, “Thy will be done,” but it is a very active way to invite Him, and this will help you begin to move your prayers in rhythm with His heart.

What are your favorite Bible verses to pray? For what kinds of situations?

Has God given you a prayer strategy where you had peace that it was from God? Did you have a situation where you weren’t sure? How did you resolve it and find peace?

Really Present, Really Listening

A classmate shared today about an interview with Mother Theresa, in which she was asked about her prayer life with God. When asked what she said in prayer, she answered, “Nothing. I listen.” When asked what God said, she answered, “Nothing. He listens.”

How powerful and true. Often we are taught (though don’t necessarily “do”) to listen in prayer, but often we forget that God also listens. So often we are waiting for God to speak, but how much more comes from His listening. How amazing that the creator of the universe wants to listen to us! I also love contemplative prayer, in which we just sit with God, not even listening, but just being.

This also makes me think of how our prayer time with God is a model for how we spend time with others. Do we have conversations in which we really listen to the other person, and are fully present with the other person? So often, we are partly listening, partly thinking what we want to say, and partly thinking through our grocery list in our head.

How much more vibrant would the kingdom of God be if we learn how to listen and be present with others?

We can begin to learn this by being fully present and listening in prayer with God.

5 Simple Moments of Blessing

Here are some simple ways to invite God into your day through blessing.

Many of us bless our meals, whether we eat at home, at a restaurant, or on the go. We may also say prayers of blessing at bedtime, and again when we send our families off to school and work in the morning.

Those are amazing times of family prayer and interactions with God. We bless our day and God’s heart.

What other simple blessings can we bring into our day, to include God in more of our daily life?

1. Pray for safety on the road, even if you are just running a quick errand.

2. When you bring groceries home from the store, pray over them, for the health and nourishment of your family.

3. Any item you bring into your home should be prayed over and blessed, as sometimes items come with spiritual attachments. It’s always a good idea to pray cleansing over everything that comes into your home. If you get in the habit of doing this each time you bring an item home, it’s a great way to bring God and blessings into your day, as well as keeping your home spiritually clean.

4. Speaking of cleaning, pray as you do your housecleaning. Even a quick touchup – wiping a counter, cleaning a mirror, scrubbing a basin – is a great opportunity to pray blessings for your family.

5. When you turn on the television, a movie, a video game, music, when you pick up your phone, turn on the computer, open a book to read – say a quick prayer asking God to bless your time and to keep yourself and your family spiritually protected. Again, this serves double duty – spiritual cleansing and blessing. It’s also a great way to interact more with God throughout your day.

What other moments of blessing do you include in your day?

Praying as God’s Child

I was reminded this week of the importance of “just” spending time in prayer with God.

Often, we get caught up in the prayer needs that surround us, including our own. We focus our prayers on the needs of others, or on the obstacles that lie in our path.

The Bible tells us, in 2 Corinthians 3:18, God is transforming us into the image of Christ. Transformation comes when we spend time with Him. He changes our hearts through our time in His presence.

We are God’s children. Prayer is an opportunity to spend time with, talk with, listen to, share our love with, and just be with God.

While God does give us people and situations to pray for, and while He does want to hear our hearts about the things we struggle with, He wants first and foremost to be in relationship with us. We are to love Him with our whole heart (Matthew 22:37-38), and that means spending time just being with Him.

Our prayer time should orient us to God. We should come to Him first as His child, and just be.

That’s where the heart change takes place. That’s where we become more like Him.

Have you spent time with God this week, just talking with Him as His child? Just being with Him? Try spending five minutes a day like this, and see what happens. You will notice a difference.

Your Daily Prayer Refreshment

I was reminded this week of how refreshing prayer can be. I was eating a slice of watermelon – who doesn’t love that wonderful summer refreshment! At the same time, I was reading about prayer. I felt so refreshed just thinking about spending time with God. I realized my time with Him is even more refreshing than eating a slice of watermelon, or running in the rain, or going for a swim. Nothing is more refreshing than our God!

If you would like to spend some refreshing time with God today, here are a few simple ways to get started. You don’t need to be overwhelmed and try to do them all. Just pick one that feels refreshing to your heart:

1. Sit with God. Just be with Him. Try this for five minutes and see how you feel.

2. Get to know God. Ask Him questions about Himself. Ask Him to share His heart with you. Look up one of the “names of God” in your Bible – the Internet has many great resources on where to find the names of God (John Paul Jackson, 365 Names of God is a great resource). Choose one name that is meaningful for you today. Reflect on who God is. Talk with Him about one of His names, and what that means to Him and to you.

3. Pray for someone. Pray for someone you know who needs prayer. Or just pray for the first person who comes to your mind, even someone you might not have seen for years. You can also ask God to give you the name of someone to pray for. He might prompt you to pray for someone you know, or He might lead you to pray for someone you have never met, who lives on the other side of the world.

4. Pray a Bible verse. Choose a favorite verse, or find one you haven’t spent much time with. Turn the verse into a simple prayer.

5. Pray for an upcoming event. Does your family have an important event coming up? Maybe an event for your children at school? Is something coming up that you are excited about, or nervous about? Does your community or church have an event coming up that could use some prayer? Spend some time with God, just talking about and praying for that event.

6. Ask God for a Bible verse you can pray for your family. Ask Him to give you a specific verse to pray. It might be one verse for your whole family, or a different verse for each person in your family. Listen quietly. See what verse He leads you to pray for each person. This is a prayer strategy, and it can become a very powerful part of your daily family prayers. Share the verses with your family. Ask them what other verses they hear.

How did your “prayer refreshment” time go today? Try the same thing again tomorrow, or pick a different way to pray. These are just a few ways to get started. See what else God inspires in you.

Start with five minutes of your day, and grow from there.

God will love this time of refreshment with you. It’s like sharing a slice of watermelon with Him. You will enjoy this time as well. You will be amazed how it will affect your day.


31 Days of Prayer Starters

If you would like to grow daily in your prayer life, here are some ways to get started.

These are simple but powerful prayers, and you can choose one each day for a month.

You can even choose just one that is meaningful to you, and repeat it each day. You can add more, from your heart, as you begin to pray. Or keep it very simple and just pray these few words.

What’s important is that you are talking with God, and allowing Him to connect with your heart. He will do the rest!

These prayer starters can also be a great way to pray together as a family. Or a powerful way for children to begin their school day.

Expect amazing things to happen as God responds to your heart. God bless you.

1. God, I love You.

2. God, I want to put You first in my life.

3. God, I want to talk with You every day.

4. God, I want to listen to You.

5. God, I want to know You better.

6. God, I want to hear Your heart.

7. God, I want to obey You.

8. God, I need Your help with everything.

9. God, I can’t do anything without You.

10. God, help me to love You more.

11. God, teach me how to pray for my family.

12. God, bless my family.

13. God, help the people in my town get closer to You.

14. God, help me get closer to You.

15. God, thank You that You are everything I will ever need.

16. God, help me trust You.

17. God, help me know how much You love me.

18. God, help me see You in a new way.

19. God, help me believe Your Word is true.

20. God, help me believe in Your promises.

21. God, thank You for Jesus.

22. God, change my heart.

23. God, help me experience Your love in a new way.

24. God, fill my heart with Your love.

25. God, grow the fruit of the Holy Spirit in me.

26. God, thank You for my life.

27. God, thank You for loving me.

28. God, help me love people with Your love.

29. God, help me talk with You every day.

30. God, fill me with Your peace.

31. God, help me shine with Your light today.

In Jesus’ name. Amen

Prayer is a Daily Refreshment

As part of a school assignment, I ran across a delightful article on prayer. I felt so refreshed upon reviewing this article that I wanted to share it. Here is the link to the article, followed by the review I wrote for class. I hope you will enjoy reading this article as much as I did, and be reminded of the daily refreshment we have through prayer:

The Importance of Personal Prayer

Review of Balducci, Rachel. (2014). The importance of personal prayer. Catholic Digest, 78, 54-57.

This is a delightful and profound article on prayer. It is profound in its simplicity: our life just goes better when we make time to pray.

Prayer cultivates Christ-likeness. Prayer is a key to our transformation, because through prayer we spend time with Jesus.

The author quotes Father Brett Brennan that we have two ways to become more like Jesus. One is through prayer, and the other is to experience the fellowship of the suffering of Christ. Wouldn’t it be preferable to make prayer a priority?

Prayer nurtures our relationship with Christ, grows us in grace, allows us to share Christ with others, and reminds us of our utter dependence on God. In other words, prayer fills us with Christ.

Prayer is not about the amount of time or a ritual. It is heart conversations with God. Even 15 minutes a day of intentional prayer is helpful.

Our biggest hindrance to prayer is that we don’t make it a priority. There will never be an ideal time for prayer; we will always be busy. We just need to do it.

No matter what is going on, prayer fills us with Jesus, who is our source of peace. We were made to be in relationship with God, and prayer is a gift that helps us grow in this relationship.

Balducci’s article also contains 5 helpful suggestions for making prayer a daily habit.