The most effective prayers are often the simplest. Here are three of the shortest and simplest prayers you can pray. They are also among the most powerful prayers you can pray. Yet they are often the hardest and the most neglected.
1. I confess
Confession is a way to acknowledge sins that are hidden and perhaps stuck in our hearts. This is where we pray like King David in Psalm 139:23-24, asking God to search our hearts. When we keep things hidden in our hearts, or don’t realize what’s in our hearts, we block God’s blessings. Confession frees us to be who God created us to be.
The prayer of confession can be as simple as this:
Dear God, I confess that ____. Please forgive me. In Jesus’ name. Amen
2. I repent
Repentance is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. John the Baptist tells us, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2 NKJV) John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah. When we repent, we prepare our hearts to receive the fullness of life Jesus brings us.
God knows we will make mistakes. He knows we carry sin, not only from our own lives, but also from our generational lines. But through Christ, God offers us the opportunity to turn away from those sins (repentance is a 180-degree turning away). Repentance frees us to live the life God intends for us to live.
When you confess the sins you hold in your heart, you can follow that prayer with repentance:
God, I repent for _________. Help me to turn to You instead and to receive the life You have given me. In Jesus’ name. Amen
3. I forgive
Forgiveness is also an amazing gift from God. Forgiveness not only frees us, but it also frees the people who have hurt us. This means God can work in their hearts too. God can change their hearts if we are willing to let go of our offenses.
Forgiveness does not mean, “It’s okay that you hurt me.” Forgiveness simply (and powerfully) means allowing God to deal with the situation on our behalf. We choose not to hold our hurt against the other person. We let that person go and move on with our lives.
One of the best articles I’ve read on forgivness is by Kerri Johnson of The Center for Inner Healing. She teaches about forgiveness in a very real, down-to-earth way that we can all relate to. Here, you can read her insightful article: “Wash, Rinse, Repeat.”
The prayer of forgiveness goes like this:
Dear God, I choose to forgive ______ (name of the person who hurt you) for _______ (what that person did to hurt you). In Jesus’ name. Amen
If you don’t feel able to forgive someone yet, start with this:
Dear God, I want to forgive _______ for ________. Please help me be able to forgive. In Jesus’ name. Amen
When you first forgive someone, you might not feel any change emotionally. That is okay. God simply asks for our obedience in forgiving others. Your emotions will eventually line up with your prayer of forgiveness, as God brings healing to your heart.
Try to pray each of these three prayers this week: I confess. I repent. I forgive. Start with something small; work your way up to bigger things. Pay attention to the freedom you will feel when you have prayed these prayers. God will respond in powerful ways.