Short Prayers Are Awesome Too
In his excellent daily devotional Morning and Evening, Charles Spurgeon turns to the story of Jesus walking on water, on his entry dated for January 14th.
The story, recorded in Matthew 14:22-33, tells of the 12 disciples crossing the sea in a boat, when they hit a violent windstorm. Jesus comes to them, walking on the water, and the disciples initially think it may be a ghost. Peter shouts back, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water”. Jesus did so, and Peter – impulsive as he often is – jumps out and begins to walk on the water also. But then, overcome by fear of the wind and waves, Peter begins to sink, and cries out “Lord, save me!” Jesus catches Peter, they get into the boat, the storm ceases immediately, and in their awe the disciples worship Jesus.
Spurgeon’s simple point from this story is that a good prayer doesn’t need to be a long prayer. In just three words, Peter says everything that needs to be said for the Lord to act on his behalf. Spurgeon comments:
Short prayers are long enough. There were but three words in the petition which Peter gasped out, but they were sufficient for his purpose. Not length but strength is desirable. A sense of need is a mighty teacher of brevity. If our prayers had less of the tail feathers of pride and more wing they would be all the better.
His observation is simple, yet profound. Our prayers do not need to be full of fancy, religious-sounding rhetoric, but rather simple words straight from the heart. Many of us struggle with believing that we don’t pray enough, and often this is true. But let us be reminded that prayer does not always need to be a lengthy exercise. Certainly, it is wise to slow down and spend time communing with God, and even Jesus spent sleepless nights in prayer as an example of its importance. But there are times and places for every kind of prayer, short and long. Let this story be an encouragement to you that prayer can be part of any moment of any day. Jesus can act mightily in response to just 3 simple words. All we need to do is utter them from sincerity of heart, and God will hear.