The power of the short prayer
I almost titled this “the power even of the short prayer” – but then realized I was falling into the very point I was trying to AVOID: that it doesn’t take long prayers to be effective!
I used to be taught that we had to pray at least 30 minutes a day, bare minimum, or our prayers would simply be ineffective. Now don’t get me wrong: I understand that there are many examples of men of God praying for long periods of time before their answer came.
- I’m very aware of that. Jesus (Yeshua) prayed all night before finalizing on his 12 disciples (Luke 6:12-13).
- Matthew 14:23-25- another example of our Messiah praying at least 4 hours into the night
- We know before his crucifixion he spent a long time in prayer in Gethsemane
- Daniel was praying and fasting for weeks (see Daniel 8 and 9)
- Jacob wrestled all night with the Man we know later as Yeshua (Genesis 32:24-25).
- In fact I wrote a blog recently also about what it means to “pray always”.
- Another example: when Peter was jailed and to be executed, the local church prayed long into the night – and they were heard (Acts 12:5,12). There’s no record, by the way, that they prayed that way earlier for James, the brother of John, who was in fact, executed.
So I understand the need for fervent and long prayer at times in our lives. But sometimes we start feeling like “if I don’t have at least 30 minutes to pray on my knees, there’s no point in praying at all!”.
My personal conviction is this: we do need times of committed vigils of prayer that build the base, the foundation of our relationship with our loving Father and Savior. But with that base, we then make contact – short prayers – many, many times each day, as we “pray always” and stay in touch.
When we do that, when we need to pray about something, it doesn’t have to be long. In fact, Christ says it’s the hypocrites who like to make long prayers (see Matthew 23:14). Your long prayers should be in secret – just you and God – and not in public, not in opening/closing prayers, not at the dinner table, etc.
With this as our foundation, remember that the priests of Baal prayed all day long – and received no answer from their non-existent “god”. Elijah on the other hand? The English version of his prayer, even if spoken slowly, takes only 22 seconds! And YHVH answered mightily! (1 Kings 18:36-38).
When Yeshua resurrected Lazarus, his prayer was very short and simple. Again, he had the foundation of course of a strong relationship with Abba, his dear father. When Yeshua arrived at the burial site – a cave sealed with a stone – Yeshua’s simple words were “Take away the stone”. We need to take away the stone from our hearts as well. Then when Yeshua prayed, it was a prayer acknowledging a resurrection that technically hadn’t happened yet – and it was a short prayer! It was one of the most powerful short prayers in recorded history! In English, again – it takes only 14 seconds or so, to say it elegantly.
And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me." 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."
Pray. Even if all you have time for is a few seconds. Be sure you are really getting to know your Lord and king in longer prayers from time to time – but don’t disdain the power of the short prayer too.
It’s not the length of the prayer – but our faith and the depth of our relationship with the One to whom we are praying, that count.