Maybe your life is all sunshine and cotton candy. No shadows, no sadness, no stress.
Well, good for you. Feel free to move along, because the rest of us are dealing with stress—lots of it for some of us. And at times it feels like we’re about to buckle under.
But that’s why I’m so happy that I can turn to God in prayer, even though at times, when I’m super stressed, the words don’t come easily. When that happens, I call on just a few go-to prayers. Short ones. One word. Two. The longest is only six words. Sometimes I pray just one, over and over. Other times, I pray several, in order, more or less. See if any of these prayers for coping with stress help you:
A 1-word prayer: Breathe
Sometimes when I’m stressed, I hold my breath. I don’t even know I’m doing it. But when I realize it, I remind myself and turn it into a prayer of sorts: “Breathe.” My wife’s watch even reminds her to breathe! It’s a helpful practice. Stop. Slow down. Breathe.
A 2-word prayer: Hide me
David sang, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 17:8, NIV). Oh, I pray that often, and I frequently condense it and simplify it into just two words: “Hide me.” While the storm rages. Until the storm passes. Until the stress evaporates like summer rain on a hot sidewalk.
A 3-word prayer: Peace be still
When His closest friends were stressed and scared by a storm at sea, Jesus rebuked the storm, saying, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39, KJV). And the squall surrendered. It’s a great prayer at any time, for any soul in stress: “Peace. Be still.”
A 4-word prayer: I come to You
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT). Remember these words in the midst of a stressful situation, and pray, “I come to You.” Let Him give rest to your soul.
A 5-word prayer: My help is in You
On one occasion, I was so stressed—panicked, even—that I spent a half hour on my face on the floor of my study, praying, “My help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (see Psalm 124:8). Over and over. Until my heart and mind began to agree with my lips and my voice. And calm and hope returned to my soul.
A 6-word prayer: I have calmed and quieted myself
One of the shortest psalms in the Bible, Psalm 131, is a lullaby. I love it and pray it often when I’m stressed—especially the second verse:
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content (Psalm 131:2, NIV).
The picture is that of a child contentedly snuggling with its mother, not complaining or clamoring, but simply and completely content to be in its mother’s arms. Those six words—“I have calmed and quieted myself”—remind me that I am in the arms of a loving and protective God, a realization that relieves stress and revives my soul.
That’s it. Altogether, just 21 words. But they do often soothe me and save me from stress. I hope they do the same for you.