“Pray Without Ceasing” is Hard. Flash Prayers Aren’t.

When you see someone who looks like they could use a prayer, flash one on their behalf.

March 24, 2021
Rev. Carmala Aderman

“Would you please pray for me?” she asked earnestly. 

“Of course I will,” I promised. And I meant it. 

I’ve had that conversation with hundreds of people over the years. 

And I did pray. Usually. 

But, too soon, I’d forget. The crisis wasn’t over, but other concerns surfaced and I’d let my commitment fade. 

I hope I’m not being presumptuous in thinking that you might have had those experiences at times in your life. too. 

Early in my pastoral career I remember committing to pray for people, and then forgetting. I made a firm inner commitment to do better . . . and then didn’t. I tried writing their names in a prayer journal, but in a matter of weeks, I was no longer writing. 

Then a dear saint introduced me to Flash Prayers.

Frank Laubach taught us to flash prayers for others. Right now.

Annabelle, a powerful pray-er in my first congregation, put me on to Frank Laubach’s book, Prayer: The Mightiest Force in the World. He taught us a way to pray throughout each day. And he taught how to pray with some spiritual power. 

Laubach wrote that book in 1946 in the aftermath of World War II. People were still scared. Would there be a nuclear war? What was happening with the Communists? 

He introduced the idea of Flash Prayers. How should people respond to the fear and anxiety of the day? Pray!

Pray with their heart. 

Pray throughout each day. 

He wrote,

To join in the [praying] one need not leave home nor neglect his business. Everybody in every ordinary day has hundreds of chinks of idle wasted time which may be filled with flash prayers ten seconds or a minute long. Here are illustration of such moments:

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><em>Upon awakening in the morning.</em><br><em>In the bath.</em><br><em>Dressing.</em><br><em>Walking down stairs.</em><br><em>Asking the blessing at table.</em><br><em>Leaving the house.</em><br><em>Riding or walking to work.</em><br><em>Entering the elevator.</em><br><em>Between interviews.</em><br><em>Preparing for lunch.</em><br><em>And a hundred more chinks all day long</em><br><em>until crawling into bed and</em><br><em>Falling asleep . . .* </em>Upon awakening in the morning.
In the bath.
Walking down stairs.
Asking the blessing at table.
Leaving the house.
Riding or walking to work.
Entering the elevator.
Between interviews.
Preparing for lunch.
And a hundred more chinks all day long
until crawling into bed and
Falling asleep . . .* 

What do Flash Prayers look like?

When my nieces were young, their mommy drove them to pre-school and dance lessons and swimming lessons. Whenever they saw an ambulance, police car, or fire truck speeding along with lights and sirens announcing their urgency, my sister and her girls would pray. They prayed for the people in the ambulance. For the first responders. For anyone in danger. I don’t think they called them Flash Prayers, but that’s what they were. 

Some friends of mine gave birth to identical triplets this past January. The boys were born 2-½  months early and were quite fragile. Those tough, frail infants caught my heart. I committed to pray for them regularly. 

How will I remember to pray for them throughout each day? I have a picture of all three boys snuggling with their mommy as the wallpaper on the lock screen of my phone. Every time I open my phone throughout the day, I see them and flash a prayer for their healthy growth. Yes, I’m a little embarrassed to admit how many times a day I open my phone, but think how many times I get to pray for those little dear hearts!

What do flash prayers look like in your life? 

When you see someone in the grocery store struggling to walk–pray for them at that very moment. It takes just a flash of time. But you’re praying and the Spirit is blessing the person you’re praying for.

Do you see an exhausted parent trying to manage their young children? Flash a prayer for them. 

Did a friend just call you to tell you about a terrible day at work? Pray for him in that moment, even while he is still talking.

Maybe an acquaintance just came to mind, seemingly “out of nowhere.” Offer a quick prayer–a flash prayer–for whatever she or he might need. The Holy Spirit knows their needs. You don’t have to. Your job is simply to commend them to the care of the Lord. 

Did someone just cut you off in traffic? Getting angry at them is easy. And culturally predictable.  It also raises your blood pressure and diminishes your inner peace. Respond with a flash prayer instead. Pray they arrive safely. That they don’t hurt anyone. That whatever they’re rushing to isn’t as dire as they think it is. Maybe even offer a quick prayer of gratitude that you weren’t hurt by their apparent carelessness. 

They’re easy to do. Ready to give them a try?

I invite you to experiment with Flash Prayers. Maybe they’ll even become part of your daily routine. Is there someone you are especially concerned for? You could put their name or photo somewhere obvious so you’ll see it throughout the day and flash a prayer on their behalf.

Flash Prayers are a simple, yet powerful way to train your soul for more consistent prayer. And they change people’s lives. Have fun with them!

Rev. Carmala Aderman, Certified Spiritual Director

* Prayer: The MIghtiest Force in the World. Frank C. Laubach, Ph.D., Martino Publishing, Mansfield, Centre, CT. 2012. p 56. 

Photo by:

Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

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