Three Simple Prayers for Hard Times

Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. —Lamentations 2:19a NIV

I was having a very difficult day. With big worries on my mind, and even though I knew better, it was extremely hard to mentally walk away from the “what if’s” in my brain and welcome sleep at bedtime. Normally, when sleep eludes me, I use the alphabet and prayer. I think of all the people I know whose first name begins with the letter “A” and pray for them. Then I move on through the alphabet until sleep comes. It’s a sweet way to engage the mind when one is wide awake in bed, and it never fails to lull me to sleep as I mumble my increasingly incoherent prayers to my Abba Father and nestle into His open arms and loving heart.

This night, my stress was too high to even formulate a prayer—so I turned to the three little prayers recommended by a fictional character in the book, The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge. I had used them recently in a talk, so they were fresh in my mind, and, oh, how they soothed and helped as I fell asleep. Here they are, and here’s why I think they are so valuable for troubled minds.

Lord, have mercy. We start right there. Three simple words crying out for God’s help. Not eloquent. Not spelling out the specifics of either my problem or my hoped-for outcomes. God knows the ache in my heart. When I whisper, “Lord, have mercy!” He understands completely. This prayer brings me to some great truths. First, the Lord should always be the One we go to when we are in distress. Second, He is merciful. He’s the One who loves to show mercy whenever we ask. Jeremiah declares this truth right in the middle of a terribly hard time in his own life: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end” (Lamentations 3:22 ESV). Oh, it surely does help to be reminded of God’s mercy when we are troubled!

Thee, I adore. I lingered for quite a while, meditating on God’s mercy, and then moved to simple worship. Just three little words: “Thee, I adore.” God wants us to worship Him alone. Sometimes our worries reveal an idol in our life. What has us so rattled that we cannot rest in Him? Is there a control I need to relinquish? Have I set a person on a pedestal where they do not belong? With these three words, “ Thee, I adore,” I am grounded in truth. I declare that God is the One I adore. He is the One worthy of my praise. How sweet it is to tell God how much I love Him and a relief to remember who is in charge. Thankfully, it’s not me! First Chronicles 16:29 calls us to worship this way: “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” (NIV). When I worship, even if all I can utter are three little words, I feel restored to my place in the world as God’s beloved, where He reigns, and I can rest in that.

Into Thy hands. Only after the first two prayers can I release the burden that has me tied in knots. After all, I serve and adore a God who loves to show mercy. His kindness and compassion for me are beyond my comprehension. I can truly lay the worries into His competent hands and trust Him. The Psalms are wonderful at instructing us about worry. I love Psalm 55:22, which teaches us what to do with our cares and our fears: “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (NIV). God alone is capable of carrying our burdens. He invites us throughout Scripture to bring all our cares and our worries and our burdens to Him.

After my mind was settled and blessed by simple prayer, I was able to sleep. How thankful I am that God is the good Shepherd who knows His sheep need constant care! I’m forever grateful that I never have to worry that I am “bothering” Him. Even late at night, when my husband and friends are sleeping soundly, my Abba Father is awake and watching over me!

Heavenly Father, I am grateful for simple prayers to help me when I am too distraught to form my own. I am thankful that You are merciful, worthy of adoration and praise, and able to carry my worries so I can sleep. What a deep, deep joy I feel knowing I belong to You! Thee, I adore. Amen.

You are loved,




Sweet Selah Ministries

To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
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