Pray a Little Poetry

If your prayer life has gone stale, throw some haiku into the mix.

Posted in , Oct 11, 2016

Try praying a haiku poem to freshen your prayer life.

Are you sometimes stymied in prayer because you’re trying to get it “right”? Do your prayers all sound the same these days? Are you getting bored with your prayer life?

If so, consider praying a little poetry for a while. Specifically, do a few haiku.

Haiku is a simple and popular form of poetry that comes from Japan. Most people know it as 17 “sounds” or syllables arranged in three lines of (respectively) five, seven, and five syllables each.

Strictly speaking, there is more to a haiku than that (such as a reference to nature in general and seasons in particular), but the brevity and simplicity of the form is what helps me in prayer. Praying in haiku helps me to simplify my thoughts and focus on my feelings. It places me in the present moment. It helps me “sing a new song,” so to speak, in prayer.  

Here are a few of the haiku prayers I have recorded in my prayer journal:


fossils of seashells

high in the Himalayas;

You have done great things

* * *

the crow picks at death

like the unforgiving heart;

help me to forgive 

* * *

trees lay down their leaves

with each one I bless Your name

one sweet sacrifice


I don’t always pray in haiku, but when I do, it stirs something in me and often revives my prayer life. It is such a simple way to pray, but one that incites humility, wonder, praise and gratitude in a unique way.

You don’t have to be a poet to pray this way. You do have to be able to count to five, and seven, however. But even then, the point isn’t the poem but the prayer. So try it, and see if an ancient Japanese form of poetry can inflame something new in your prayers.

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