I love coming before an almighty God who graciously invites me into his presence. I love being reminded that in my own strength I can achieve nothing. I love acknowledging that without the generosity and kindness of my heavenly Father, nothing could ever be accomplished.
But there are three simple words which rob prayer of its power. Three adverbs that cheapen the whole experience. Three words that are used by Christians every day. Three words which are often heard from the lips of Christian leaders.
"Let's just pray". You've heard it so often. It rolls from your lips with nary a thought for the unspeakable damage you have wreaked upon the purpose and power of prayer. With one small monosyllable you have brought God down from his throne and tossed him into the litter bin of insignificance.
So, what does this word 'just' mean? Try and work it out from these exchanges:
"Are you ready to leave yet?"
"Yes - I just have to find my keys first."
"I just have to pop into the supermarket on the way home"
(When a guy and a girl are breaking up): "I just want to be friends ..."
Do you see what that word does? The word 'just' means: "the thing I'm about to do is really quick and it won't inconvenience you in any way".
You won't find this as a dictionary definition, but does it make sense, that's the everyday meaning of the word 'just' when you insert that word before an action you're about to undertake? The word 'just' is an apology. It reflects embarrassment. It's an attempt to make the action that follows appear quick, convenient and insignificant.
The word 'just' is a perfectly good English word. But do you really want to imply the meaning of 'this is really quick - it won't inconvenience you - it's insignificant' when you talk about prayer?
The adverb 'quickly' doubles the floccinaucinihilipilification of prayer. It gangs up with the word 'just' to launch a double attack. If the word 'just' brings down the rich value of prayer, then the addition of the adverb 'quickly' drags it into the discount bin.
"Let's just pray quickly."
Oohhh - how the demons must rejoice when they hear those words meaninglessly recited!
This is the triple-barrelled attack on the dignity of prayer - "Let's just pray really quickly". It doesn't exactly inspire you to lift your eyes to your magnificent God, humble yourself before his majestic power, and cry out to him in utter dependence for your every need!
I attended a 'Prayer and Praise' evening at a church once. The whole purpose of the evening was to lift our voices to God in praise and lift our hearts to God in prayer. As soon as the opening songs of praise finished, the minister who was leading the prayer meeting commenced his inspiration to the troops with these words: "Let's just bow our heads really quickly". O dear. Something within my spirit felt that not much was going to be accomplished that night.
Let's think about our language so it reflects the magnificence of God and the majesty of prayer.
Let's get rid of the words that drag prayer into the chap and nasty zone.
Let's just pray really quickly ...