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Prayer is a staple of religious life. It is mentioned in the Bible hundreds of times and appears in every book and chapter in the Scriptures. Praying to God both to ask for help and to praise Him for His good works are central themes in the Bible. Unfortunately, prayer is an afterthought for many Christians and ends up receiving the same treatment as those New Year’s Resolutions to exercise more or eat healthier. You join a gym and throw yourself into eating clean for a few weeks, but come Valentine’s Day, you are back to skipping workouts, snacking on Doritos and calling a pair of Poptarts a perfectly healthy breakfast. Spiritual exercise via prayer usually ends up dying the same slow death as physical exercise. Prayer, however, is both too easy and too important to put on the backburner until you feel you have time to do it. You will likely feel like you do not have enough time, but you do not have to dedicate hours every day to prayer for your prayer practice to make a huge difference in your life. Here are seven common prayers that can transform your life if you focus on their words and try to live out their message.

The Serenity Prayer

God, 
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can, 
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Amen


The Serenity Prayer is one of the best known prayers today. The first stanza is extremely popular both among Christians and among non-Christians. The second stanza, however, is far less known and appears in far fewer quotes or motivational pictures. Both stanzas, however, are equally valuable. The first stanza is one that you can recite to yourself when you are dealing with frustrations or a sense of helplessness. It can help you keep in perspective whether or not your rage is actually useful. Though people always need to be careful that their anger does not cause them to lash out or become violent in either word or action, the Bible itself shows that there are times that fury is the correct response. Jesus Himself was enraged by the merchants and money sellers in the Temple to the point that He, quite literally, started flipping tables. Anger, however, is only useful if it can lead to change. If you are outraged by human trafficking and that rage pushes you to join an organization dedicated to ending the scourge of modern slavery, your anger is useful. If all you do is make a few social media posts and then forget about the issue, your anger is empty and useless. If you are furious at the tree limb that fell on your car and broke the windshield, you can either use that anger productively by removing similar dead limbs from other trees around your house or you can possess useless anger and stand there swearing at a tree. 

Frustration has a place in life, and the serenity prayer is important in that it does not simply call on you to change what you can but to focus your efforts where you can actually make a difference. The second stanza gives a more detailed path toward achieving the serenity the prayer asks God to grant. Enjoying the little moments and accepting that life is beautiful despite its imperfections are good ways to work toward serenity in your life.

Grace

Bless us, O Lord, 
and these, Thy gifts, 
which we are about to receive from Thy bounty
through Christ, our Lord.
Amen

Lord, 
thank You for the food before us, 
the family and friends beside us and the love between us. 
Amen

Thank you, God 
for this food, for rest and home, and all things good;
for wind and rain and sun above;
but most of all those we love. 
Amen


“Saying Grace” is a common phrase in Christian households, but there are a stunning number of Christians who actually have no idea how to say grace or exemplify the expression “deer in the headlights” when asked to pray before a meal. The tradition can seem old fashioned today, but praying before a meal helps you to remember how lucky you are and may remind you of those who are not  fortunate enough to have enough to eat. There are endless variations on grace, and many denominations have a version that they favor. You can either stick with a traditional version or create your own. The point is simply to make sure that you give thanks to God for what you have and take a moment to appreciate your blessings. That gratitude can do incredible things in your life.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, 
Who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
(For the kingdom, the power and the glory are Yours 
now and forever.)
Amen


The Lord’s Prayer is the best known prayer in all of Christianity. Every Christian has heard it and knows it is based on the prayer that Jesus Himself said to pray. That commonality of the prayer, however, often keeps Christians from recognizing the power of the words in the prayer. When was the last time you really paid attention to what you were saying when you said the Lord’s Prayer as opposed to simply reciting a rote memorization? 

The Lord’s Prayer speaks to God in a familiar way. He is not Creator or Master but Father. The prayer is a Christian reaching out to someone they know loves them and praying that God’s will transform the earth into a world in line with what He meant it to be originally. It asks God to remember both the worldly needs of His faithful, such as bread to eat, as well as their spiritual needs by not testing them with temptation before they are prepared to face it. Any one of those ideas is powerful enough to warrant an entire prayer book, but the Lord’s Prayer grants each of them only a few short words. 

If you really want to transform your life, meditate on the words of the Lord’s Prayer and then do your very best to live them. Grow closer to God. Be grateful that your daily needs are met. Learn to forgive others. Accept that you will face temptation and prepare yourself for when you do. If you can do those four things, your life will be unrecognizable by the time you are done.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray to God my soul to take.
If I should live for other days,
I pray the Lord to guide my ways.

Father, unto thee I pray,
Thou hast guarded me all day;
safe I am while in Thy sight,
safely let me sleep tonight.
Bless my friends, the whole world bless;
help me to learn helpfulness;
keep me every in Thy sight;
so to all I say good night.
Amen


How often do you leave things unfinished because you are certain that you can get them done tomorrow? How many times have you gone to bed without righting a wrong or apologizing to someone you love because you assume that you can deal with it in the morning? Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is a simple, popular prayer that reminds people that no one is guaranteed that they will have another day or even another moment. The prayer serves to both increase your appreciation of the time you are given and encourages you to use it well. Live in a way that is guided by God and practice helpfulness and thankfulness. Doing so will turn your life upside down in the best way. Frankly, simply breaking yourself of the assumption that you are guaranteed another day can cause you to make the most of every moment and put you on the path to living without regrets.

Anyway

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.


St. Teresa’s famous poem is not a traditional prayer, but it serves as a reminder to live your best life and a plea to God to help you do so. It calls on Christians to live good, happy lives in defiance of all those who would try to drag them down. It also reminds them that the only one whose judgement matters in the end is God, so live according to what He wants, not the fickle demands of other humans. If you can truly turn away from concerning yourself with what others might think or how they might react and focus on living a righteous and generous life, you will find yourself transformed for the better. 

Prayer For Soldiers

Dear Lord,
This is the prayer I say tonight.
It is for my loved one who must fight.
This prayer is not for them alone,
but for all the military far from home.
I ask You to keep them safe and sound
on their way to where they’re bound.
We love and honor those who are asked to fight,
so keep them safe for us tonight.
Amen

God,
Please bless our soldiers,
Protectors of our land,
Servants called to battle 
When our country takes a stand.

Please give them strength and courage
And hearts that will forgive,
With peace and understanding
In a world free for all to live.

Our country’s prayers are with them
No matter where they roam.
Please be with them too, O God,
and bring them safely home.
Amen.


Veterans, active military, police and first responders all deserve the thanks and respect of the people they defend. As such, no prayer life would be complete without prayers recognizing and thanking those who willingly risk everything for their country and community. Recognizing that your freedoms and liberties are bought and protected by those who willingly lay down their lives for strangers will help you appreciate them more. It will also help you realize how lucky you are to have those freedoms and, hopefully, spur you to do what you can to help free those who are not so fortunate. 

The prayers for soldiers can easily be modified to include first responders, police, veterans or anyone else who willingly put themselves in the line of fire to protect people who may never appreciate it or even know about their sacrifices. You can also include military, police and first responder families who spend each day living with the knowledge that their spouse, parent, sibling or child may not come home safely or at all.

Morning Prayer

Dear Lord,
So far today, I have lived life as You commanded. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, lied or cursed. I have not been greedy, grumpy, selfish, lazy, lustful or over-indulgent. I have not snapped at my loved ones or told off a neighbor. I have not been envious or let jealousy guide my tongue or my actions.
In a few minutes, however, I’m going to get out of bed. From then on, I’m probably going to need a lot of Your help.
Amen

God has a sense of humor, and embracing your own for a little laughter each day can do wonders for your outlook on life. The prayer may seem a hair irreverent, but the Bible itself is filled with double entendres, clever insults, off the wall jokes and even a bit of potty humor. So, there is nothing wrong with starting your day with a laugh of your own. If anything, it might put you in a better mood and let you live a better life by allowing you to be more patient and understanding with those you meet. It also can be a good way to list the things you wish to avoid during the day. If you need help breaking your habit of impulse buying because financial stresses are hurting your marriage, mention that in your prayer in the morning. If you have been short with your children, tell God that you have not lost your patience with them. Then, see how long during the day you can keep the first half of the prayer, the list of what you have not yet done, true. A bit of humor and focus can do a great deal to change your life, and a prayer about both can help you remember you are not alone as you make those changes.


Prayer seems to be one of those things that many Christians say they want to do more of but never actually get around to doing. You do not need, however, a thick book of obscure prayers or a devotional to improve your prayer life. Simply taking the time and energy to focus on the prayers you do know can be more than enough to transform your life. As Christ showed with a few fish and some bread, small gifts can do great things when you put them in God’s hands.