We've all heard jokes from Christian comedians, or simply our Christian friends, about the "just" prayer problem.
It seems to be an epidemic. A language virus which has infiltrated the church, and infected Christians with a need to use "just" every few words in a prayer.
It's an odd phenomenon, which we don't see anywhere outside of prayers. It begs the question, Why do we do it?
I'm no linguist. While I find the subject fascinating, I've never done in depth studies on how language develops in a culture, or why words come to be used how they do. But, I do have an notion on this one.
"Just" is a word that connotes humility, it connotes frugality.
We don't want everything. We just want this one little thing.
So in our prayers, because we feel the need to appear humble, to appear like we're not asking for much from God, we use the word "just." It's our involuntary response to the feeling in our brains that we need not to be too proud.
There are a couple problems with this.
1. It's not honest.
We're presenting God with a false humility, rather than our true selves. Prayer should be a presentation of our true selves to a God we're trusting to change us.
2. It treats prayer like something it's not.
Prayer is part of a conversation. But too often, we treat it like a show. We talk to God like he's distant and unwilling to listen. We're not peasants awkwardly hoping the haughty king will listen, we're beloved daughters and sons talking to a father who desires to give us what we need.
If this is something you do, I don't want to shame you. We all do silly things sometimes, especially as we're growing.
I simply want us to be intentional about the things we do, especially something as important as our prayers. The way we pray reveals our attitude toward God, just like way you talk to your coworker or your spouse reveals the way you feel about them.
We should revere God, because he is far great than we could ever imagine. But he is also the one who died for us, and loves us deeply, giving us the opportunity to come to him as our true selves. Both of those facts should inform the way we encounter him.