What is a short prayer called?

Prayer is an important spiritual practice in many religions. Prayers can take different forms – from long, formal recitations to short, simple sayings. In this article, we’ll explore the idea of short prayers and the different terms used to describe them.

Common Types of Short Prayers

Some of the most common types of short prayers include:

  • Petition – Asking for guidance, help, or fulfillment of a need
  • Intercession – Praying on behalf of others
  • Thanksgiving – Expressing gratitude
  • Praise – Worshipping and admiring God

These short prayers can be just a sentence or two, or a few paragraphs long at most. They capture the essence of connecting with the divine in succinct and humble ways.

Specific Terms for Short Prayers

Here are some specific terms used to describe different kinds of short prayers:


An aspiration is a short, fervent prayer expressing a deep spiritual desire. Some examples of aspirations:

  • “Lord have mercy.”
  • “My Jesus, mercy.”
  • “Holy Spirit, guide me.”

These brief prayers can be repeated multiple times as part of meditative prayer practices.


An ejaculation is a brief, fervent prayer uttered spontaneously from the heart. It captures a cry for help or declaration of praise and faith. For example:

  • “God, come to my assistance!”
  • “Blessed be God!”
  • “Lord, hear my prayer.”

Ejaculations demonstrate our dependence on God throughout our daily lives.

Breath Prayer

A breath prayer is a simple, short prayer meant to be repeated with the rhythm of one’s breathing. Breath prayers connect body, mind, and spirit through slowing down and focusing on God. Some examples:

  • “Jesus, remember me.”
  • “My God and my all.”
  • “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”

These mantra-like prayers bring us fully into the present moment.


A bidding is a short prayer inviting the congregation to pray silently on a specific topic or intention. For example, a pastor may offer these biddings:

  • “Let us pray for those who are sick and suffering.”
  • “We pray for peace in our world.”
  • “I invite your prayers for those grieving the loss of loved ones.”

Biddings guide communal prayer during church services.


Collects are short formal prayers with a common structure – an address to God, a petition, and a conclusion of divine praise. For example:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ descended below all things and ascended above all things that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that according to his promise he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Collects have been part of liturgical worship services for centuries.

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When Are Short Prayers Used?

Here are some common situations when short prayers are valuable:

  • Personal devotion – Short prayers help focus and center oneself during individual prayer time.
  • Public worship – Collects, biddings, and call-and-response prayers facilitate communal worship.
  • Spiritual direction – Aspiration and breath prayers aid meditation and mindfulness.
  • Grace before meals – Brief blessings sanctify daily meals.
  • Times of struggle – Ejaculations cry out to God in moments of need.
  • Family occasions – Simple prayers give thanks on special days.

The accessibility and flexibility of short prayers makes them a vital part of spiritual life.

Short Prayers in Different Faith Traditions

Short prayers feature prominently in many faith traditions:


  • The Jesus Prayer – “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”
  • The Serenity Prayer – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
  • Mealtime prayers – “Bless us O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.”


  • Basmala – “In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.”
  • Adhkar – Short prayers and supplications for protection and forgiveness.
  • Surahs – Short Quranic chapters often used liturgically and devotionally.


  • Shema – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
  • Modeh Ani – Short morning prayer thanking God for restoring one’s soul.
  • Birkat HaMazon – Grace after meals thanking God for nourishment.


  • Gayatri Mantra – “Om Bhur Bhuva Swaha Tat Savitur Varenyam Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi Dhiyo Yo Naha Prachodayat”
  • Mahamrityunjaya Mantra – For long life, good health, and wellbeing.
  • Pranava Mantra – The cosmic sound ‘Om.’


  • Refuge Prayer – “I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the Dharma. I take refuge in the Sangha.”
  • Four Immeasurables – “May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness. May all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering…”
  • Meal Chant – “We reflect on the effort that brought us this food and consider how it comes to us…”

Across these faiths, short prayers speak to the human heart’s longing for the divine in brief yet powerful ways.

Benefits of Short Prayers

Why are short prayers so valuable in spiritual life? Here are some key benefits:

  • Simplicity – Easy to memorize and repeat.
  • Brevity – Require minimal time yet yield depth.
  • Spontaneity – Can be offered up on the go as needed.
  • Focus – Keep attention on what’s essential.
  • Humble – No need for eloquence, just sincerity.
  • Community – Unite groups in accessible rituals.
  • Spiritual nourishment – Provide regular reminders of truth.

In our busy world, short prayers grant much-needed oases of connection with the divine.

Examples of Short Prayers

Here are some examples of short prayers from different faith perspectives:


  • “God, please walk with those who are going through valleys today.”
  • “Allah, open my friend’s heart to your love and wisdom.”
  • “Spirit, shine your light on the path ahead.”


  • “May their suffering ease.”
  • “Free them from hatred.”
  • “Bless the poor and vulnerable.”


  • “For this food and all good gifts, I thank you.”
  • “I am grateful for beauty.”
  • “Thank you for this new day.”


  • “Holy, holy, holy Lord.”
  • “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.”
  • “What a wonder I see in the night sky!

Even just a sentence or two can create meaningful connection with the divine.

Tips for Praying Short Prayers

Here are some tips for cultivating a fruitful practice of praying short prayers:

  • Find examples to use as daily touchpoints.
  • Write some of your own based on current needs.
  • Keep a list in a journal or on your phone.
  • Recite them slowly, focusing on each word.
  • Coordinate prayers with your breathing.
  • Say them silently anytime, anywhere.
  • Whisper them audibly to reinforce intentions.
  • Repeat prayers as affirmations and reminders.

Integrating short prayers into your spiritual life keeps you attuned to the presence of the divine throughout your day.

Short Prayers Lead to Longer Prayers

While short prayers have innate value, they can also serve as stepping stones to longer prayer:

  • After uttering a brief petition, sit silently to listen for guidance.
  • Let a simple phrase expand into a heartfelt journaling session.
  • When giving thanks, get specific by naming people and situations.
  • Spend time in adoration after a short cry of praise.

Like kindling helps start a larger fire, short prayers ignite our readiness for deeper prayer.


In our busy modern lives, short prayers provide essential anchors of spiritual practice. Though just a sentence or two long, they orient our minds to the divine presence in the midst of everyday activities. Short prayers – whether petitions, intercessions, praises, or thanksgivings – offer strength, focus, community, and nourishment. Across many faiths, people have turned to concise prayers for connection and grace. Maintaining a practice of short prayers keeps our hearts open and humble before the Sacred in each new moment.

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