For several years now, I have worked my way through the book, A Clearing Season, by Sarah Parsons during Lent. I’ve never finished it. Maybe one day I will. But in one particular reading, in one particularly hard season of my life, I read this:
“’Thy will be done’. These may be the most revolutionary words we will ever say. Saying them can change our orientation to life: we put our little boats into a great stream and drop our oars. We lose a bit of our old control over things; we clear the space and allow God to fill it, agreeing to tend whatever growth God engenders.” ~Sarah Parsons, A Clearing Season
When a season of anxiety struck, Parson’s recommendation for those four words turned into a prayer that I desperately needed. With this prayer, I was able to release, refocus and reset; taking the mental and emotional turmoil that was going on that I thought I had to control and “open-palming” it back to God’s control. After all, His hands are bigger.
The four-word prayer, “Thy will be done” rooted deeply into my daily walk with God.
As I thought about the four-word prayer God gave me several years ago, one that I carry with me like my well-worn, childhood security blanket I called my “thing”, I wanted to share a few other meaningful four-word prayers that I think are helpful for us to release, refocus and reset our hearts and minds on things above.
“THY WILL BE DONE.”
“This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13 NIV
“GOD, YOU ARE BIGGER.”
I find immeasurable comfort in remembering how small I am compared to God’s bigness. I often think back to the song I sang so often in my childhood, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” If He’s got the whole world in His hands, He has me in them as well.”
“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:25-27 NIV
And because I just can’t help myself…
“REDUCE ME TO LOVE.”
Hannah Brencher shared on Ann Voskamp’s site that she calls her small prayers, “breath prayers”. I love this!
“Breath prayers help me bridge the gap between praying sometimes and praying without ceasing. My breath prayer for when fear tries to take back the lead role is simple: Reduce me to love.” ~Hannah Brencher
I’ve loved this prayer from the moment I read Hannah’s words. It’s a prayer that helps me quickly get out of my own way and centers my focus on loving others well. “Reduce me to love” is a prayer that Jesus lived.
Read Hannah’s beautiful words here:
A Four-Word Prayer That Could Change Everything in Your Life
“HELP ME, THANK YOU.”
God doesn’t want us to wait until we have it all together to come to Him. It pleases Him when we ask Him for help. It’s what He’s about. As I ask for help, I want to make sure I’m asking from a standpoint of being grateful. Sometimes, these four words, “Help me. Thank you.”, are the only coherent words I can get out. They come from a place of knowing I can’t that God can.
HELP ME TRUST YOU.
I hope you’ll read this whole story in Mark 9. It’s incredible! But consider how we, as finite-minded humans, don’t know and can’t possibly grasp the bigger story. We need help trusting.
Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“If you can”? said, Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:21-24
CAN. YOU. HELP. ME?
I hope you’ll watch this whole video but I know it’s long. It’s so good, though! If you only have a few minutes, jump to the 50-minute mark and watch for a couple of minutes to find the inspiration behind this particular four-word prayer. William Paul Young, author of The Shack and whose story is featured in The Heart of Man documentary, said these four words, “Can you help me?”, for the first time in his life to another human after his lifetime of secrets were exposed. I, myself, have a hard time asking for help from others. So often I feel like I need to have it all together before coming to Him as if I need to please Him in some way to be worthy. I say this prayer to God, the helper and healer, and I know it pleases Him when I do. It pleases Him that I would let Him love me. That is, after all, why He made me (and you).
I want to be careful to mention that I in no way believe that our prayers are meant to be quick fixes. There are no quick fixes for our broken places. Healing is a journey that takes time. These four-word prayers are for the purpose of surrender—releasing control, replacing our focus on Christ’s control, and resetting our hearts. A four-word prayer can become a small and meaningful practice that will pave the way for deeper conversations with our Creator.
What short prayers do you find meaning in? What do you do when you need a quick reset? How do you re-center when anxiety threatens to take over?
5-Word Prayers: Where to Start When You Don’t Know What to Say to God
5-Word Prayers Coloring Book: Where to Start When You Don’t Know What to Say to God
Come Matter Here: Your Invitation to Be Here in a Getting There World
Hope in Healing (Spotify Playlist)