Arrow Prayers: The Simple and Quick Way to Stay Connected to God in Your Daily Life

Red bow arrows on a green background with a beautiful bokeh, Romania

I recently decided it was time for a break. I didn’t go anywhere, I just logged off from most of my social media accounts and quit watching the news. I did it because I easily get caught up in current events (politics, social issues, conspiracies), and the world is busy over-delivering information to get caught up in. This can make me feel anxious and stressed about things I can’t control, like lockdowns, and increased crime rates. Before long, I let these things consume me, forgetting that all things pass and only God remains. 

So, I decided to disconnect for a while. I didn’t set a time limit, I just decided I would return when it felt right. I felt that I needed to find a consistent path to God, something to keep me focused on my family and faith. I needed to discern what God wanted from me, not what the world wanted from me. But, before I could get there, I had to find a consistent prayer path that worked amidst the noise of the world.

That’s when I found arrow prayers

Arrow prayers are briefly defined in a small pamphlet I picked up at my parish called “St. Benedict for Busy Parents” by Father Dwight Longnecker, which highlights the importance of punctuating our lives with prayer. 

“The prayers we offer might consist of a Psalm or Scripture or a short memorized prayer or they might simply be a little ‘arrow’ prayer like, ‘O God make haste to help me,’ or ‘Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me, a sinner.’” 

Father Longnecker explains that in punctuating your life by shooting arrow prayers directly to God, we learn to constantly bring our minds and heart back to him often. Arrow prayers are continual prayers and conversation with God that help us grow in union with him throughout the day. 

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While an arrow prayer is certainly not a substitute for the Rosary or novenas, it is an introduction to conversation with God for people like me who can’t seem to get it together most of the time. I needed something for the daily moments when there isn’t time for deep meditation. Author Peter Kreeft said that just saying the name “Jesus” is one of the most effective and powerful prayers we can use. Saying the Lord’s name is an arrow prayer. It’s short, direct, and in difficult times, it’s sometimes the only thing we can say to feel immediate peace.

So, every day at 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., and at 6:00 p.m., my alarm goes off to remind me to shoot an arrow prayer up to God. It’s as simple as saying:

  • Help me brave of heart and rely on the Lord.
  • Help me stand firm in my faith.
  • Have mercy on me, a sinner.
  • All things pass and only God remains.
  • Lord, help me through this. 
  • Lord, give me patience (peace, perseverance, love, kindness, etc.)

Arrow prayers have been a fast way for me to not only connect with God regularly throughout the day, but also grow as a person. The more I say them, the more I’m reminded where my focus should be when the alarm goes off, because: 

  • I have to pause. Always. Even if it’s just to turn off the alarm. If I have a moment to turn off the alarm, I have a moment for a quick prayer.
  • If I’m frustrated or worried about anything, the alarm and arrow prayers remind me to ask God for peace.
  • I’m learning to use this to express my concerns or grievances directly to God, rather than at the people around me.
  • I’m often reminded that the perspective I need for something is as simple as shifting my focus to where God would want me to. 

I took a break from worldly connection because I needed to be more connected to God. But I can’t stay away from the world forever. So, I needed a way to stay connected to him to face the challenges of our current events. A Benedictine sister once told me that when you leave the world for a break, you have to take what you learn back into it. 

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As I return and get caught up with everything that’s happening, I’m hopeful that arrow prayers are what I can bring back with me to help me stay grounded. A weapon of choice, to combat the fear, frustration, and anger that the world can sometimes produce in all of us.

I am hopeful that the direct, daily, connection with God helps me live with more grace while I continue to ask God to:

  • Help me brave of heart and rely on the Lord.
  • Help me stand firm in my faith.
  • Have mercy on me, a sinner.
  • Have patience for those who come into my daily life.

I know that as long as I’m connected to God, I can overcome any fear that I may have, because I know that God is only an arrow prayer away. Every time my alarm goes off, I’m reminded he is with me and waiting to hear from me. For me, arrow prayers deliver the right perspective when I need it. When it comes to both personal struggles and world struggles, that perspective is usually the simple recognition that all things pass and only God remains.