11/11/07

The Name of God is Not a Comma

I have a pet peeve. I hear people pray, and it goes like this "Dear heavenly Father God, please help us, God, to worship you, Lord. And, God, we just thank you, God, for all that you've given us, Father... And, God, we just ask you to to show yourself, God..." Alright, you get the picture. Why do we do this? We don't speak like this to one another. Shouldn't we use the name of the Lord with a little more respect and careful, thoughtful consideration? Using it like a comma, like a filler for our lack of words, like a meaningless word to replace our own nervousness, is awfully flippant and disrespectful. I think using it like this certainly falls into the definition of using it in vain.

"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain." - Exodus 20:7

"Vain-adjective- without real significance, value, or importance; baseless or worthless"

I'm not saying that it should never be used in prayer, just used more carefully. Perhaps I am completely wrong. Perhaps I am simply hung up on something that isn't an issue as I perceive it to be.

4 comments:

Chase Abner said...

I've definitely been guilty if this. I do still use God's name often in prayer. It's partially so that I will remember who I'm praying to. Sometimes my prayers get preachy and directed at people and not to the Father. That's probably a worse problem.

Of course, pointing these things out to people will inevitably cause them to listen critically to your prayers in the future. May we all be gracious and open to correction.

Chelsea said...

I have been extremely guilty of this. It is something that I am conscious of, but it still happens all the time. When I was in TN last summer, one of our leaders gave us this message. I had never even thought about it until then.

Chase Abner said...

Wow! I've been trying to monitor my own prayers for this now and it's crazy how much of a habit it is. I say God or Lord a lot in prayer, but I can't tell if I'm using it as a comma or not.

I'm also noticing it really bad in others' prayers... not in a critical way... but it is a distraction. Thanks Kelsa!

Ken said...

Well......I have to admit it bugs me a bit as well. It goes along with my other pet peeve (during corporate prayer) of people going on, and on, and on, and on, feeling that they have to squeeze in every possible thing they can think of to pray for. Anyway, I digress...I don't really think that folks are being intentionally flippant when they keep mentioning God's name in prayer. It is easy, I think, to become a little too "familiar" with Our Lord, so to speak. Perhaps that could be an unintended side effect of frequent prayer (frequent prayer is, of course, a good thing). I remember years ago there were some folks in the Charismatic Catholic movement praying while nearly constantly using the name of Jesus every few words, as it was thought to be more "effective." Weird...I think much of the time what's happening is similar to that, sort of like when you're really pleading with someone, for example: "hey, come on Bob, please, man, can't ya help me out here, buddy? Hey Bob, how about it?" That kind of thing...