Sentence Prayers

If you know the artist of this work please let me know so I can give him/her credit.

Extended quote by Sarah Arthur from devozine, September/October 2012
The Scent of Water, by British novelist Elizabeth Goudge, includes the journal of a teenager who struggles with mental illness. Her high-society mother finds the situation embarrassing, and the whole family hides the girl’s illness like a terrible secret. One day an old pastor comes to tea. He seems as out of place at the tea party as she feels most of the time.

Eventually [the pastor and teen] talk; and the girl tells him everything, including her fear that one day she will lose her mind altogether. After listening patiently and asking some questions, the pastor promises to pray for her every day.

As he is leaving, he tells her, “There are three necessary prayers, and they have three words each. They are these: ‘Lord, have mercy. Thee I adore. Into Thy hands.’ Not difficult to remember. If in times of distress you hold onto these, you will do well.”

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In his book The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen also encourages the use of short, simple prayers, often referred to as sentence prayers. The quiet repetition of a sentence prayer creates space to hear from God; while at the same time preventing our mind from wandering or from being “bombarded with endless conflicting thoughts and ideas.”

I wanted to try this practice since I often suffer from both wordiness when I pray and mind bombardment when I attempt to wait on the Lord. The only problem was I didn’t know what sentences to use. Nouwen suggests using words and sentences from the scriptures, so I began to list them as I found them. Below you will find the ones that have proved helpful.

If you practice praying in this way I would very much like to hear about your experience. What words and sentences have been helpful to you?- Lisa <><

Words and Sentences from Scripture

  • Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. – Luke 23:46
  • The Lord is my Shepherd. – Psalm 23
  • Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! – Matthew 15:22
  • You are my lamp, O Lord, the Lord lightens my darkness. – 2 Samuel 22:29
  • You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you. – Psalm 16:2
  • I trust in you, O Lord- Psalm 31:14
  • Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done. – Luke 22:42
  • You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God. – Psalm 40:17
  • Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me – Psalm 71:3
  • You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. – Psalm 119:114
  • Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits – Psalm 103:1-2

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