don’t you dare just pray

photo by MinusIroner

If you’ve known me for at least 5 minutes, you know that I am a stickler for the precise and intentional use of language. I try not to jump down your throat too quickly if you accidentally slip up (I’m working on it, I really am), but there are things people say because that’s actually how they think. For example, let’s look at this phrase “just pray.”

“Lord, we just pray that…” “We just ask that You would…” “God, would You just…” This one has bothered me from the days just before I gave my life to Christ. Truth be told, I had to look past this annoying tendency of believers to slip into this type of goofy-speak when they are praying. Why is prayer, at least in the presence of other people, such an awkward exercise? Some people are indeed shy, and praying for others to hear is uncomfortable. They may have tremendous faith and pray bold, mountain-moving prayers in their own prayer closet, but when someone else besides God is listening, they clam up from insecurity about putting together the perfect sentence. This is not who I’m talking about. It’s the folks who pepper their already overly verbose prayer language with this wimpified form of request that really sadden me.

Prayer is such an amazing privilege. We are given confidence in our access to the very throne room of the God of the Universe! It is not an inconvenience to our loving Heavenly Father, nor to Jesus our elder brother Who intercedes for us, nor to the Holy Spirit Who gives us words to pray and interprets our groans when we can’t even form the words. Why would we think it’s an interruption when God has invited us to pour out our hearts to Him?

A related piece of nonsense is this need to preface an intent to pray with “let’s pray real quick.” Again, this is the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE we are talking to! How can it be such a burden to others that we pause our needlessly harried lives for a couple minutes to point ourselves to the Source of all life? If it really is such a bother, maybe we need to examine our collective culture and see if there’s something we ought to address.

It is not so true that “prayer changes things” as that prayer changes me and I change things.

But back to the original idea of “just pray.” It isn’t “just” about praying in the first place. If all we do is launch some requests (demands?) God’s way and then  go about life as if nothing had transpired, perhaps we haven’t prayed at all. Oswald Chambers’ brilliant devotional My Utmost For His Highest challenges us: It is not so true that “prayer changes things” as that prayer changes me and I change things.

So don’t just pray. Don’t pray real quick. Consider Who it is you’re talking to, take the time needed to really talk to Him, then leave the time different. If you aren’t willing to do that, don’t pray at all.

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About andrew burden

andrew blogs about being a volunteer youth leader, teacher, video editor, husband, friend, child of God
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