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Arrow Prayers: A Powerful Way to Cry Out to God

Jul 25, 2018 By Whitney Hetzel

What is an "arrow prayer"?

An arrow prayer is a quick, very short prayer (usually only a sentence long) which brings us into the presence of God and the saints, seeking holy aid in times of need. Father Joseph Matlak spoke about arrow prayers in our digital content series for Catholics called School of Prayer.

We can use arrow prayers when we feel particularly weak, vulnerable, scared, or anxious. They help to penetrate any darkness or fear and to direct our thoughts quickly to God.

In the movie Paul, Apostle of Christ, there is a scene where Paul is imprisoned and has been tormented by a recurring dream. Crouched in a dark corner of his cell, he lifts his face to heaven and exclaims, “Thy grace is sufficient!”

What a remarkable arrow prayer!

Arrows not only give us direction and show us a way to go—they are also deadly weapons. That is why I love the term “arrow prayers.” We can use arrow prayers to lift up our souls to God as a simple and secret thought, or we can use them in the event of any emergency that occurs. The devil would like us not to use this method of prayer because he knows that these types of prayers reveal the faith of the one praying them.

Arrow prayers can be shot up to heaven in a single breath and only take a second or two to pray. When I am praying for someone else or when my own words seem powerless in the face of what I am praying for, these types of ejaculatory prayers are effective.

Here are a some good examples of arrow prayers that anyone can use:

  • "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." (The Jesus Prayer)


  • "My Lord and My God!" (The prayer of Saint Thomas the Apostle)


  • "Jesus, Mary, I love You! Save souls!"


  • "God, come to my assistance; Lord, make haste to help me." (Psalm 69—Introductory Prayer to the Divine Office)


  • "Lord, I believe; help me in my unbelief."


  • "May the Holy Cross be my light." (Jubilee Medal of St. Benedict)


The next time you are anxious, fearful, or tempted—especially when you don't have enough time to hit your knees or enter the Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament—take one of these arrow prayers from your spiritual quiver and send it flying to heaven...and into the heart of Christ.

Are you familiar with arrow prayers? If so, which ones are your favorite? 


Cynthia says
Oct 20 2018 4:11PM
I use mostly Jesus Mary I love thee save souls. Or Jesus son of David have mercy on me. And this one I also use, Jesus save us, o Mary help us, St Michael the archangel defend us
Mary Barta says
Sep 17 2018 11:11AM
I use the prayers suggested often, but really love the term "arrow prayer" ... think it will help get the attention of students in religion classes!
Jeanné Hall says
Aug 31 2018 6:51PM
"Lord I believe, help my unbelief" comes from Mark 9:24, when the father of an epileptic (and possibly autistic) boy uttered that prayer.

The Jesus Prayer ("Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner") is popular in Eastern circles.
Elizabeth says
Aug 18 2018 8:38AM
“I am your daughter and You are my God”

This always helps me when I feel like I’m getting caught up in worldly or selfish thoughts or situations.

It helps get me right back into a right relationship with God it reminds me of who I am and who He is in my life, always! ??
for the luv of jojo says
Aug 9 2018 1:41AM
yesterday my Mothers dog was killed by a predator. I found her and I immediately felt a presence of evil. I'm so scared and terrified. My poor Mother is ill dementia trying to give her comfort. this fear is making me ill as if I'm walking around and not really here. All day I pray the Lord's Prayer, then suddenly in my head I'm back in that moment where I find the dog and her mangled little body. I'm in so emotional turmoil please, please pray for me that I may have peace and this presence of evil to be gone. “Lord, I believe; help me in my unbelief.”
Lindsay says
Aug 6 2018 7:28PM
My favorite arrow prayer is “Mary, my mother, please be a mother to me now.”
Maureen says
Aug 6 2018 6:19PM
When it’s more then I “think” I can figure out “into your hands, Lord. I place this into your hands.”
Rosemary says
Aug 1 2018 1:22PM
The hot shot fire fighters and all first responders fighting the relentless fires out West. For all who have lost their lives and their belongings.

Please pray for all the intentions my friends and I hold deeply in our hearts.
Maria says
Jul 27 2018 4:01PM
Please pray for me to lose this weight im going through hard times and not familiar with arrow prayes
Linda G Ida says
Jul 26 2018 12:34PM
I use the Jesus prayer.

And when I’m on my way to communion I sayLord I Believe help me in my unbelief
Elizabeth says
Jul 26 2018 12:19PM
I pray the Jesus Prayer and have done so for for many years. I find this short prayer to be truly helpful to refocus my attention on my God. I say it as I enter Church and when I am leaving. I pray it as I prepare for Holy Communion and I pray it often throughout the day. I also particularly pray it when I'm driving and become irritable!

I pray the prayer of St. Thomas the Apostle during the consecration of the Body and of the Blood of Christ during Mass, and have been doing since I was 6 years old and preparing to make my First Holy Communion.

I never knew they were called Arrow Prayers and I was happy to read the commentary to help put them in perspective. Thank you.
Diana says
Jul 26 2018 11:31AM
I learned about Arrow Prayers in my lessons, School of Prayer. I use Arrow Prayers throughout my day, especially The Jesus Prayer. Sometimes, I repeat the verse from the daily readings responsorial psalms, as I go about my day. Sometimes, in my life, throughout the day, “society/ people”, try to sadden or hurt me, Arrow Prayers help me feel closer to Jesus when my heart begins to feel heavy.

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Commentary by

Whitney Hetzel Whitney Hetzel

Whitney Hetzel is a wife, mother of nine children, homeschooler, and catechist. Passionate about her Catholic faith and physical fitness, she trains for marathons and triathlons and blogs at to help other women stay healthy and fit while juggling the demands and joys of domestic life.

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