Do you think it’s possible to have one prayer for everything?
If I told you that once upon a time, just such a prayer was shared with me by a very wise woman, would it sound more probable? Or would you call me a Snake Oil Saleswoman? Or simple? Or overreaching?
I was worried about that.
Because I can put myself in your shoes reading a statement like that.
But maybe you can also put yourself in my shoes. I’m betting they’re gonna be a pretty comfortable fit.
The shoes I’m offering up are the ones I wear when I’m momming so hard in my faith journey, going to battle in my prayers, considering every space I occupy a prayer closet. The world is my “war room”. I’m speaking life and taking names, people. Really getting after it asking God to fix the situation, bring the right friends, the right teachers, give me the perfect wise woman thing to say that really sinks in there and settles and never leaves them. In the holy name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen and Amen. Shout out myself a Hallelujah.
Immediately followed by me pumping the breaks. And a “Maybe not, Lord. Maybe this is a time where they need some tough situations that lead to growth and experiential learning that brings gratitude and confidence. Like all of us, they are definitely going to need situations to look back on and say, ‘At the time I thought I’d never make it, but that whole thing as painful as it was, taught me what I needed to embrace the next good thing and bring joy from ashes.'”
I know. You don’t have to tell me. That’s some heavy, heady thoughts to pin on young children, but it’s the way my mind unravels when I’m planning out their ups and downs, calculating their responses and measuring out the painful experiences at “just enough” and their successes at “overwhelming”. It’s more mad scientist than doting mother.
But it isn’t over. Because then I return to a shaky, “Is this one of those times, God? Or should I be praying Bold Fix It Prayers?”. Because, really. How can I know what is the ultimate best?
It is then, finally, that I revert to the prayer for everything. It is the best outcome for them, and the most peace-giving for me.
The ultimate why
I remember so clearly the day my friend shared the one prayer for everything with our women’s small group.
She recalled how when her kids were small, similar to my confessional above, she’d ask for specific fixes not knowing whether it really matched up with God’s ultimate plan. When she slowed to ask and let the spirit work an answer in her, she remembered the ultimate purpose in every life was to Matthew 22:26-40 and 1 Peter 4:8 it up for all of their days (my paraphrase). And she let this be her guiding prayer all of their growing up years.
On the day she shared it with us though, her kids were almost grown. And she brought us a tender request to join her in that same prayer she had learned when they were young. This time for her college-aged child who shared they identified with the opposite gender and was making steps toward reassignment. There were a lot of pieces of hearts and lives to pray over. An overwhelming list of wanting to do right by her child and how to lovingly handle questions and opinions of family members and inevitably church friends. She wasn’t sure how to protect her baby but she knew how to guide us in the one prayer for everything.
the prayer for everything
What is it that gets anyone to loving deeply and fully in every situation? And on the other side of that coin, what gets us praying for the one right thing vs. all the selfish things? Quite simply, a relationship with Love itself.
So when praying for ourselves or someone else, we don’t necessarily want to pray every bit of suffering away. It would be silly to consider this a real option anyway. A desire for pain-free is at the surface, but a a desire for Love is deep.
If we peel back the layers on our prayers, we’ll ultimately find the same deeply rooted desire. Of course we want the situation addressed, but ultimately? Ultimately, we want to see a heart change. A spirit that is grounded, finding unwavering peace and gratitude no matter the trial at hand. It is impossible to sustain in our humanity, but God who is Love Eternal lends us strength.
And this bundling of blessing is what we’re really after. Every. Time. We. Pray.
Right? Let’s pray that be the case.
The Prayer for Everything:
I think the time has come. Here it is. The Big Reveal.
God, use this to bring them closer to you.
Short and sweet, but far from simple or naive. Because prayers to draw you closer to God aren’t dependent on circumstance. In good or bad, in true tragedy or a chalked up learning experience, in times of plenty and in want, this is the one prayer for everything.
I haven’t experienced every situation in life, of course. But I have not come across a set of words I can say girded with more holistic surrender than these. This prayer is selfless. This prayer releases expectations of God to run a specific course of action on a specific timeline. This prayer for everything helps me let go of any controlling actions or manipulative words when I am with the person I’m praying for. This prayer keeps my eyes on the ultimate hope for all of humanity, that we evolve as seekers of truth and finders of the limitless love and grace available to each of us in Christ.
Try this prayer for everything today. Sandwich it in between your routine asks. Or go all out and pray it over everyone you know, plus the occasional stranger. “God, whatever they’re facing, let it bring them closer to you.” Then, be willing to love them deeply in words and in action.
In doing so, I pray it brings you closer to God.
Here’s another sweet four word prayer that’s especially good for tense situations, originally shared by Ann Voskamp.
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