Thursday, January 10, 2008

Prayers Decoded

It seems to me that when we pray, we rarely say what we really mean. Here are a few examples of common prayer verbiage and what I think most people are actually meaning to pray.

Patience-- We've all heard the cliche that you shouldn't pray for patience if you don't want the Lord to teach you patience. What I think we really mean is that we would like for whatever person or situation is trying our patience to be magically and swiftly obliterated, rather than learning how to deal with the situation at hand with love, graciousness and compassion.

Clarity-- When we pray for clarity, what we're really saying is that we'd like to know how everything is going to turn out rather than trusting the Lord to be good and faithful to us. To me, honestly, this prayer just might be the antithesis of faith.

Peace-- Maybe not everyone thinks of peace like this, but I know when I pray for peace, what I'm really asking for is spiritual morphine. The pain, the trail, the frustration, the stress are all so great that I feel burdened, and I would rather feel numb (i.e., peaceful) throughout the time of trial then be in the moment and grow through the pain.

Guideguardanddirect-- This just means that they grew up in the church and don't know another way to end the prayer.

Any other prayer euphemisms I'm forgetting?


Both Cris and Sharkdog (Alisha?) make good points.

"Be with"-- This is a great one. I think in general, we evangelical Christians have a tendency to pray wimpy prayers. This summer I read "Prayer" by Richard Foster (FANTASTIC book), and he emphasized the importance of praying specific and powerful prayers. To me, this line, "be with", is evidence of our wimpy prayer. What does "be with" mean? I think we should replace this line with powerful claims of faith to our Lord. He is powerful to hear and act on our behalf for His glory! Let's be bold to pray for healing, for miracles, for undeniable displays of God's power.

"Bless"-- Oh, I've talked about this before. :) I think there are those who bless in Biblical ways, truly asking that the Lord's hand be upon people. But then I also hear a lot of blessings for building funds, in which case I'm pretty sure that "Bless this" means "show me da' money." :) Blessings can be dangerous when you begin to mistake happiness for blessing.

"Nourish our bodies"-- I had to think about this one. Jesus teaches us to pray for our daily bread, for sure, but I don't think it was in a strictly literal sense. It is in that we are repeatedly admonished not to put stock in our material things and storing them up, but praying for super- nourishment is interesting... can anyone think of any Biblical prayer for nourishment of food? Very interesting.


Cris said...

"Bless" and "be with." Define, please!

Sharkdog said...

I have a little trouble with " it to nourish our bodies" when praying thanks for food. What does that mean? If I eat a carrot, doesn't it naturally nourish my body? Isn't that what its supposed to do? What is God going to do that will help the carrot nourish us? I'm not sure, but I think this probably stems from our abundance of food. It's not like we ever really have to pray for food; we're confident it will be there tomorrow just as it was today. We don't understand a prayer for food, so we came up with an additional little something in our prayer that hopefully will display our reliance upon God.