A 10-Word Prayer When You’re Out of Options

The next time you’re panicked, fearful or stressed, try these words.

Posted in , Jan 7, 2022

How to pray when stressed

My wife and I were visiting our daughter and her family several months ago. They live three-and-a-half hours from our house, which is usually a safe and easy drive, albeit through the desert. On this occasion, I got into the car to go to the gas station and fill up the tank before packing the car for the drive home. When I started the engine, every warning light on the dashboard flashed at me. Something was seriously wrong.  

I restarted the engine a few times and got the same result. The car seemed drivable but of course not for a trip of several hours through the desert. I went back in the house and started researching repair options. On a Saturday. Most mechanics were booked until Monday at the earliest, but we needed to be home for work by then. What to do, what to do?  

So I prayed. I sometimes remember to do that when I’m up against a wall. When I’m out of options. When I’m stressed and grasping for control. 

The prayer that sprang from my heart and mind in that moment was simple: “I love You. I trust You. I wait on You.” 

That was it. A simple prayer. Just 10 words. I didn’t recall ever having prayed just like that, but I spoke those 10 words over and over through the stress of that weekend. And as I prayed, my stress levels decreased, my reasoning abilities (mostly) returned, and I was able to schedule the necessary repairs and get us home on time.   

Afterward, I reflected on the provision of that moment in those three phrases that sprang to mind. I realized that most people respond to stress in one of two ways: either they shut down or try to wrestle for control. I’m in the latter category, every time. 

But I think that short, simple prayer helps both responses to stress. It keeps the anxious mind from short-circuiting because it focuses on God and His nearness and trustworthiness, while also prying the fingers of control, so to speak, from the situation. It helped my heart and mind to leave the outcome in God’s hands and wait for Him to act. And He did. Not as economically as I would’ve liked, but with more wisdom than I could have summoned. 

Try it the next time you’re panicked, fearful or stressed. Pray, “I love you. I trust you. I wait on you.” Say it as many times as necessary. I hope it will help your situation as it did mine.

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