Accessing God with Arrow Prayers

Prayer helps feed the hungry soul. It also is a part of care for one's self. Our hearts are prone to wander—into an autonomy that is self-seeking. However, God calls Christians to be theonomous, that is, to autonomously give their wills to God's direction so that we might serve God's glory, our joy, and our neighbor's good.

Every prayer our hearts utter binds the hungry heart to God. In the crazy-busy days of nursing care, forms of prayer that are crisp and concise can sustain, nourish, and center us in ways that can be folded into the relentless movement of the day.

The ancient arrow prayer is a very short prayer, a phrase or a sentence only, usually taken from Scripture, often from the Psalms. These prayers are characteristically in praise of God or seek God's help.

You can choose one to use the whole day in accord with your needs for that day or choose several to use throughout the day. Arrow prayers are little more than a heartbeat in length.

  • You, O Lord, are a shield around me (Psalm 3:3)
  • I will give thanks to the Lord (Psalm 9:1)
  • I love you, O Lord, my strength (Psalm 18:1)
  • The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness (Psalm 18:28)
  • Blessed be the Lord (Psalm 31:21)
  • Sing to God, sing praises to his name (Psalm 68:4)
  • Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)
  • Hallowed be your name (Matthew 6:9)
  • Ask and you shall receive (Matthew 7:7)

Arrow prayers remind us that God is near, that help is at hand, that we are cared for no matter the trials and demands of the day.

This short post is part of a longer article, “Prayers from the Cauldron,” in the Jan/March 2021 Journal of Christian Nursing. Author Marsha Fowler, PhD, MDiv, MS, RN, FAAN, FRSA, is Professor of Ethics and Spirituality at, Azusa Pacific University in California. Marsha writes the Christian Ethics column for JCN.

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