When disaster strikes and words escape you, here's how to pray.
Posted in , Sep 10, 2018
Disaster strikes. An emergency looms. A crisis threatens.
Sometimes there is no time to stop and pray. Events are moving too fast, and we can barely form a cohesive thought, let alone pause to bow our heads or fold our hands.
What do we do at such times? How can we pray? In moments like those, it pays to have a few go-to prayers readily available, in our memories and vocabularies. Here are a handful of “911 prayers” that may help when panic threatens to set in and words seem to escape us:
1) Help (Psalm 12:1)
Anne Lamott, in her short book, Help, Thanks, Wow, boils down prayer to three essentials, one of which is “Help.” It is the most basic of prayers. We may get fancier or wordier, but God’s ears seem to be tuned in to “Help,” perhaps as much as or more than any other prayer.
2) Lord, have mercy (Matthew 20:31)
So many cries and groans come to our minds and hearts in the course of a day or week, and many of them are urgent. “Lord, have mercy” is among my most frequent and heartfelt prayers at such times. I don’t have to know the details of an emergency, nor do I have to get more specific. God knows, so I simply cry out, like the blind men described in Matthew’s Gospel, “Lord, have mercy,” and trust Him to answer according to His sovereign insight, wisdom and power.
3) Our help is in the name of the Lord (Psalm 124:8)
Sometimes all we can do is to remind ourselves that “when other helpers fail and comforts flee,” God abides with us still—and He, after all, is the source of any help we may receive. At such times the biblical prayer, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth,” makes a great 911 prayer.
4) We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you (2 Chronicles 20:12)
When a foreign army threatened Israel’s capital, the king prayed to God, “We do not know what to do but our eyes are on you.” It is a confession, affirmation and petition rolled into one.
It helps to keep these four biblical prayers in mind when emergencies arise, but they can be a valuable resource, applicable to virtually any situation—especially when the need is deepest.