“When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.” – Billy Graham
There are appropriate times for long prayers. Sometimes we plead with God for something or we pray and then spend time listening for a response. But there are other times when a short prayer will do just fine.
Remember when Jesus was walking on the water at night and in the middle of a storm? When Peter realized it was Jesus, he asked if he could walk on water, too. Jesus invited him to come. Once out of the boat, Peter experienced the ferocity of the storm, and he began to sink. He was in trouble. He prayed, but he didn’t start with worship or confession of sins. He just cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30). Charles Spurgeon, commenting on this passage, says that when it comes to prayer, “Not length, but strength is desirable.”
There are other short prayers in the Bible, too. There was a Canaanite woman who approached Jesus about her daughter who had a demon. After their discussion, she pleaded, in desperation, “Lord, help me” (Matthew 15:26). And he did.
And way back in Israel’s history, we find Nehemiah, working relentlessly with many others rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. While he worked, he was being taunted and threatened. He pushed on with the project, sending up this urgent prayer, “. . . O God, strengthen my hands.” The taunters were rebuffed, and the wall was finished in just fifty-two days! (Nehemiah 6:9b)
God hears all kinds of prayers, whether read from a liturgy or conversational in format. But, when we’re in trouble or desperate or exhausted, a short heartfelt prayer will do. Just call out to him!
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16b