ideas // thoughts // notes

Let's Ban These Prayer Phrases

Image via Matt Gruber 

Image via Matt Gruber 

Author's Note: 

I had the wonderful privilege of teaching a workshop on the spiritual discipline of prayer through our campus ministry today. You can get more info on the program or contact me for the curriculum that we use. Below, I decided to talk candidly (and hopefully humorously) about a few of my pet peeves (relating to prayer), all of which I've been guilty of, by the way. 

In the words of Dante, "Satire is sometimes the way to go, bro." 

Popcorn Prayer 

I love popcorn. I'm learning to love prayer. But this phrase is almost as frustrating to me as a flat tire. I know, I'm talking about my preferences here - but hear me out.

Can't we just say we're taking turns? Think about it, if someone new comes to your Small Group and they hear this, they might be thinking it's snack time. And then, sadly, you'll let them down. Well, except that you'll be enjoying spiritual food but that's just to easy to turn into a #JesusJuke. 


Unspoken Requests

During that workshop today, one of the participants made a keen observation. She noted that in The Lord's Prayer, many of the statements were plural. To me, that demonstrates (yet again) how much God and Christianity should be communal. You know what doesn't create community? Unspoken prayer requests. And I get it, some things are personal. In fact, I've asked for people to pray for things that I kept secret (and then claimed, well, at least God knows). Consider me guilty. 

But if I can be serious for a moment, unspoken prayer requests have the ability to limit His glory because they remove others from the story that God is writing in me.  

For all those that will push back, it doesn't mean you have to share every dirty little secret with everyone person, but I would encourage you to be vulnerable and open with those that are around you. 

Having A Prayer Voice

I've been told that from time to time, I slip into a preaching voice. It makes me cringe. I'm working on it. Yet, I also know a few people (over the years, of course) that sound completely different (tone, vocabulary, pitch) when they're praying. It's like, they are a different person. If I would've closed my eyes, I would've wonder what stranger jumped into our prayer circle.  

Since prayer, in my opinion, should be simple - I think being aware of this could help because the more natural prayer becomes, the more likely people are to engage in an already intimidating spiritual activity.  

Plus, very few people can pull off a whispery, whimsical prayer voice. You know what I'm talking about. 

General Prayers

Granted, at times, these make sense For instance, I pray for victims of natural disasters and since I'm often far removed geographically (and psychologically), my prayers are limited in their specificity.  

But one of my favorite thing about working in campus ministry is hearing students pray specific prayers and I love it for one reason. When those prayers are answered, it's clear that God intervened. You can track/measure/update something that's specific. It doesn't mean we need to have small prayers, big prayers can be specific with a little bit of intentionality.