Courage… It was the only word I could pray in the seconds before I introduced myself to a classroom full of anxious parents at back to school night. A few other words sprang up from my heart; strength, focus, and intelligence were all attributes I needed for these parents to be confident I would be a good teacher for their children.
Have you ever thought about what it means to pray without ceasing? Sometimes I can’t seem to pray for five minutes without my thoughts being diverted; how can I pray without ceasing? One of the amazing things about prayer is that God never gets distracted. He can listen to us twenty-four hours a day and still be actively engaged in hearing our needs, cares, worries, supplications, intercessions, and adorations. In discussion with my fifth-grade students, I explained that to pray without ceasing is like calling God on the phone and never hanging up.
To pray without ceasing is to keep those phone lines open and clear for communication at any moment. It means that I must remain ready to listen, and He never leaves the conversation. I have direct access to the Creator of the Universe, and He wants to have intense and meaningful communication with me. All too often, we just use this precious gift as a 911 line or a proverbial direct line to the shopping channel, wish list in hand.
The times when I am able to pray through my entire prayer list are priceless. Days when I can close my eyes and begin praying through my family and friends are good for my soul. Hiking through the mountains, taking a walk on the beach or sitting in my comfy chair in the early mornings gives me the solitude to focus on listening, pouring out my heart and communing with my Maker.
But what about those days when you can’t take a walk, or the world is going by so fast your head is spinning? Visiting with a friend the other day, I recalled an event that had taken place unexpectantly. Trying to remember details, all I could think of was, “there were a lot of one-word prayers that went up.” In that moment, I needed wisdom and grace, but I could not stop, take out my prayer list, pray through the names of God, connect Scripture to my needs, or meditate on God’s goodness. I needed to pray “one-word prayers.”
As I thought about the concept of “one-word prayers” it dawned on me what a gift we have in being able to have long conversations with our Father, but how blessed we are that He can understand us even when we cannot articulate in great orations. Don’t get me wrong, those lengthy conversations are desired by the Creator just as they are necessary for the created.
Previous prayers and meditations prepare me for the moments when I need to silently call out to God while still keeping my attention on the unfolding event.
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV
Sometimes that one-word prayer is as simple as “help” or “thanks.” Other one-word prayers shooting from my heart to heaven are more specific: Grace, wisdom, discernment, truth, love, patience, strength, direction, hope, forgive, protect, heal, comfort, provide, humble… All of these words are connected to deeper meanings and longer prayers, but frequently get prayed in quick supplications to the One who is always listening.
I am so blessed to have days where I can spend an hour or two in prayer, but in moments of busyness and distraction, I love that I can keep the lines of communication open, be ready to hear what He has to say and know that He is always willing to listen.
What one-word prayers do you often breathe?