One-Word Prayers

God gave me a creative idea for intercession recently. A few weeks ago I had a long list of friends I wanted to pray for. But it was a long list.

 Ask Me to give you a single word that summarizes what they need from Me right now I believe God said to me.

He did not need to convince me that less is often more when it comes to prayer. I’m an editor. I’m used to paring manuscripts down to size. I know that too many words can often mean unfocused, sloppy thinking. But one word? Even to me that seemed a bit stark.

I was fascinated, though, so I decided to give it a try. I wrote down the list of people I sensed that God was inviting me to pray for that day. There were 20 names. Ordinarily a list that long would discourage me. I want to pray meaningfully for people—yet praying loving, intelligent prays for that many people takes more time than I usually have on a work morning. But what would it be like to pray just one word?

After I’d finished compiling my list, I asked God for insight. Was there a single word that summed up each person’s need? Something that only He could do?

I presented the names to Him, one-by-one. I was amazed at how quickly He brought words to mind. For a friend in transition—“hope.” For a harried single mom—“intention.” For a woman in a difficult marriage—“perseverance.” For someone in a new leadership role—“influence.” For a widow—“security.” For a prodigal child—“restoration.” For my Compassion child—“opportunity.”

Each person had his or her own unique word, words like power, listening, heart, life, steadiness, vision, sobriety, enlargement, strength, compassion, contentment, purpose, and foundation. The words represented much more than an immediate, temporal need. They represented things that only Jesus could provide.

Throughout the day and into the next, when that person’s name or face would come to mind, so would their word. It was easy to pray for them. Because the Lord had led me regarding who to pray for and what single word to intercede about, I felt sure that my prayers were hitting the mark.

And here’s a bonus: Several weeks later, I still remember their words. So praying for them anytime, anywhere, is easy.

If anyone decides to try this, I’d love to hear how it goes. Will you comment here and let me know?




6 thoughts on “One-Word Prayers

  1. Vicki N says:

    Thanks for sharing; it amazes me that God gives so many different ways to intercede for others.

  2. Lea Ann says:

    Headed on my annual prayer retreat next week, I think I’ll try it. Thanks Cynthia – always fresh new ideas from your blog!!

  3. susan says:

    Cynthia, I love your blog. I read this post this morning. I had to write and tell you i did this yesterday. Yikes. I was praying with a friend and for her adult children and as I was waiting for the Lord to give me the words, He gave me one for each. “Hope, encouragment and security.” Never happened before, Less than 24 hours later I read your post. Our God is so intentional. Your writings are a blessing.

    • cbezek says:

      This is so fun to read, Susan! I love how God confirmed to you His perfect leading as you prayed for your friends children. Praying with you for hope, encouragement, and security, for those young people. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Lynn Jordan says:

    Love it, going to do it!

  5. Gail Cramer says:

    I like that idea and think I’ll try it, maybe with a few less names at first

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