We all face extraordinary circumstances from time to time. We have been advised to handle these times by seeking God in prayer and fasting, to be especially attentive to his words, and the working of the Holy Spirit. If we are receptive to his will, God will provide for our needs and see us though anything.
In such circumstances, we do well to focus on the most powerful prayers given to us by our forebears. For extraordinary times, here are the seven most powerful prayers in history.
These prayers have the potential to change lives. Some have even changed entire nations. As you pray, consider the power each of these prayers has, and the changes they can make in your life, should you take them to heart.
Our Father — This is the quintessential Christian prayer, given to us by Jesus Christ Himself. It suffices as an all occasion prayer that hits all the bases. It acknowledges God’s greatness, it invites God’s will, it petitions God for our needs, and requests pardon as we pledge to forgive.
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. Amen.
Hail Mary — This prayer is remarkable because it is dedicated to the Queen of Heaven, Mary, whose intercession is especially powerful. This remarkably simple prayer has few elements, but all are taken from scripture. It praises Mary, and asks for her intercession. It is short, so it can be easily memorized and quickly spoken, and is the backbone of the devotion of the Rosary, which is easily the world’s most powerful devotion. With countless miracles and conversions to its credit, the Hail Mary is an extraordinary composition.
Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death Amen.
The Prayer of Jabez — This is a life changing prayer. It’s often overlooked because it is buried deep in an Old Testament genealogy and refers to a person who wrote no books. It was written down by Ezra, the author of 1 Chronicles. The prayer is a petition, asking God for a blessing of abundance and protection.
Jabez called on the God of Israel. ‘If you truly bless me,’ he said, ‘you will extend my lands, your hand will be with me, you will keep harm away and my distress will cease.’ God granted him what he had asked. (1 Chronicles 4:10)
Jonah’s Prayer for Salvation — We all face distress. Jonah found himself in the belly of the leviathan, and from this place of utter despair and hopelessness, he cried for salvation. How often do we find ourselves already in the belly of the beast? Yet, even from this place we can cry out to the Lord and still He saves us!
3 Out of my distress I cried to Yahweh and he answered me, from the belly of Sheol I cried out; you heard my voice!
4 For you threw me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods closed round me. All your waves and billows passed over me;
5 then I thought, ‘I am banished from your sight; how shall I ever see your holy Temple again?’
6 The waters round me rose to my neck, the deep was closing round me, seaweed twining round my head.
7 To the roots of the mountains, I sank into the underworld, and its bars closed round me for ever. But you raised my life from the Pit, Yahweh my God!
8 When my soul was growing ever weaker, Yahweh, I remembered you, and my prayer reached you in your holy Temple.
9 Some abandon their faithful love by worshipping false gods,
10 but I shall sacrifice to you with songs of praise. The vow I have made I shall fulfil! Salvation comes from Yahweh!
David’s Prayer for Deliverance — Pursued by his own brother, David prayed for God to deliver him from his enemies. It seems most of us have enemies who out of a twisted sense of justice, or perhaps out of evil, they seek to destroy us. Instead of seeking mercy and common accord, they believe they can only be satisfied with our downfall. When faced with such evil, we can ask God to protect us.
1 Yahweh, how countless are my enemies, how countless those who rise up against me,
2 how countless those who say of me, ‘No salvation for him from his God!
3 But you, Yahweh, the shield at my side, my glory, you hold my head high.
4 I cry out to Yahweh; he answers from his holy mountain.
5 As for me, if I lie down and sleep, I shall awake, for Yahweh sustains me.
6 I have no fear of people in their thousands upon thousands, who range themselves against me wherever I turn.
7 Arise, Yahweh, rescue me, my God! You strike all my foes across the face, you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 In Yahweh is salvation, on your people, your blessing!
Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel — There are few words the devil must hate to hear as much as these. Saint Michael is the defender of all faithful, and his sword is swift and keen. When confronted with evil, these words invoke St. Michael’s protection and invite his incredible intercession.
Holy Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do you, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Jesus at Gethsemane — This prayer is perhaps the simplest, yet most profound prayer one can recite. Spoken by Jesus, it demonstrates how we must accept God’s will, even when we don’t like it. By accepting the will of God, we can be transfigured. Sometimes, the cup comes to us, thy will be done.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine.”