Monday, July 1, 2019

Just-ing When we Pray

Recently, when my husband was praying, I noticed that he used the word "just" an awful lot during his prayer. I know. I know. I should have been paying more attention to his actual prayer than how many times he was using one word. *sigh* Don't tell me you haven't focused on one thing or looked around during prayers, too. You know you have. ;) It doesn't mean we're not Christians or that we're bad Christians, I don't think. It just means that our minds wander sometimes. The important thing is that we re-focus as soon as we can.

Anyway. 


So I noticed that he said the word "just" a lot while he was praying. Then later during that same church service when someone else prayed, I noticed that she used the word "just" a lot. When I prayed during Sunday School, I used the word "just" a lot! When someone else closed our Sunday School class out in prayer, she used the word "just" a lot! And when my husband prayed during the actual service itself, he did it again! 

Now, I didn't count how many times any of the people who prayed that day used the word "just" in his/her prayers; I simply noticed that it kept popping up. It's like when you buy a new car and all of a sudden it seems like everyone else on the road is driving the same car you are. Know what I mean? Once I noticed it, I couldn't stop noticing it!

And once I started noticing it, I began to wonder why do we do that? Why do we use the word "just" so much when we pray? Why are we "just-ing" so often?

Do we do it because we're just trying to be humble as we pray? It's one theory. It's plausible. It makes sense. It's possible. "Lord, I come to You this morning, just praying that You will hear me as I just lay my burdens before You . . . ." You know, humble. Humility. Many of us are trying to demonstrate to the Lord that we're wanting to be humble before Him because the Bible tells us to be humble before Him: "So humble yourselves before God" (James 4:7, NLT). 

We want to do what the Bible says, right? We're just being obedient to His Word when we pray so humbly, "just-ing" throughout our prayers with humility. It's honorable. It's good. God will hear our prayers and answer, with the answer we desire, because we're so humble. We're doing it--we're praying--correctly.

Right?

Well . . . it is true that we are supposed to humble ourselves before the Lord, but it's also true that we are to come boldly before Him: "Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence" (Ephesians 3:12, NLT). So if we take just one verse of the Bible that tells us to be humble before the Lord, we completely miss this second verse that tells us to come boldly and confidently into His presence. 

Hmmmmm . . .

So maybe all our "just-ing" in our praying, if we're doing it as an act of humility, is problematic because God wants us to be humble, yes, but He also wants us to come into His presence confidently and boldly. Praying and worshiping are two ways we enter into His presence. Humility, then, needs to be saved for another time during our service to the Lord. A different type of worship to Him. When we are praying to the Lord for the salvation of our loved ones, especially our prodigals, instead of saying, "Lord, I just come to You and ask that You just help my son see His need for You. He just doesn't understand how much He needs You anymore. I just don't know what to do. I just ask You to intervene in His life and woo Him back to You," I should be bold and confident in my prayer and leave out my "just-ing": "Lord, I come to You and ask that You help my son see His need for You. He doesn't understand how much He needs You anymore. I don't know what to do. I ask You to intervene in His life and woo Him back to You." Do you see and hear the difference?! Do you hear the boldness? The confidence?!


All I did was remove the word "just" from the prayer!!!!

'Wait a minute,' some of you might be saying, 'I don't say "just" in my prayers because I'm doing it as an act of humility. That's not it at all. You're way off base, Polly Anna. So there.' 

I hear ya. And I may be way off base with my second theory. If I am, I'd love to hear other theories for why we say "just" so often in our prayers--if you do it, that is!

Maybe you say the word "just" a lot when you pray because you grew up hearing it a lot in the prayers of the people around you. Monkey hear, monkey do. You learned it. Including the word "just" in your prayers doesn't mean anything at all; you just do it because you've always heard other people say it in their prayers, so you've always said it, too. It was as natural to you to include in your prayers as breathing. It just is what it is. No meaning. No big grand something to break down and look into. You just say the word "just" a lot when you pray. It's nothing to make a big deal about. No one is "just-ing" anything. It just is.

And that's ok. I'm not judging. It's like people who have other tics in their language and say the same word over and over and over like the word "like" that a friend of mine says a lot. Or like the phrase "and that" that my dad says a lot, especially when he's telling a story or gets nervous or is talking in front of a group. I know I have them, too. I over-use the word "so" when I write. In revisions, it's one of the first things I have to go through and delete. 

When it comes to "just-ing" in our prayers, I'm simply making an observation that a lot of Christians tend to say the word "just" a lot while praying. I find it fascinating and interesting. If I, personally, am doing it as an act of humility, I plan on changing that and going boldly and confidently to the throne of grace and quit "just-ing." If I'm doing it because it was learned, automatic, I actually want to be more conscious of it. For me, it means that I'm not aware of what I'm praying, from my perspective, as I want, or choose, to be. 

I just want to be more aware and focused on what I am saying when I pray and to whom I am praying. 

What do you think about "just-ing" in your prayers?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Helping even 1.60th

When I read this quote in #MargaretFeinberg's book #tasteandsee, Chapter 5: "A Dash of Sea Salt" (p. 114), I found myself having to stop and re-read it and then underline it and then share it on Facebook and then talk about it with my Sunday School ladies and now write about it here. My brain just won't let it go.

Thinking about how I can help take someone else's pain even just 1/60th can make a difference and how that is "the call to help from God" Himself is no small thing, my friends. We are all inspired by stories of kindness, aren't we? I hope we are. I get frustrated because there are so many other stories that aren't getting recognized, but that's not why we help one another, right? We do it because we feel that tug in our spirit--that "call to help from God."

When I think about all the trials and struggles I have been through and the things that others have done for me to help ease my pain, I know they felt the "call to help from God" because they sure eased my 1/60th and then some.

Once, after one of my miscarriages, a friend and her daughter brought a whole meal for my husband and me from Bojangles because she knew how much I liked their food.

A friend went with me to a couple of my appointments to listen to my son's heartbeat--non-stress tests--during my only viable pregnancy because my husband was unable to go with me. She chose to go with me rather than sleep during her hours of sleep time; she worked 3rd shift.

When I was in the hospital at death's door, I almost constantly had
someone sitting with me: friends, family, loved ones. Some drove from four hours away. Some came from across town. I was passed out and barely knew they were in the room, but they came and sat with me and prayed over me anyway. And when I finally came home, they were there to provide meals and to help me with my recovery in a thousand different ways. Back at work, my co-workers took over my classes without question and never bothered me or made me feel guilty for having to be out for two months sick. In fact, I'm sure there are things that people did for me during that time that I'll never know about simply because I was so sick. But God knows and each and every one helped that 1/60th ease my suffering.

Over the past year, after leaving my beloved, cherished, treasured job, I have had many people hug me, hold me, sit with me, hold my hand, listen to me, let me vent, let me cry, walk with me and talk with me. People have helped financially.

All of these could add up 60/60ths to ease my pain.

I wish, but at least each has helped ease 1/60th.

And the list goes on and on.

I wish I could list every single person who has hugged me and helped that 1/60th with his/her arms of love.

Or the students I have met as I have been out and about town who have provided words of encouragement that have given me another 1/60th of easement.

You know, we read books and we read books and we move on and may never think about the books we read again. If I get nothing else from this book (and believe me, I've already enjoyed the rest of it immensely), Taste and See is well worth reading.

Every single book I have ever read by Margaret Feinberg has had a powerful impact on me and on my life in some way, shape, form, or fashion. I am not praising her, necessarily; I am praising her obedience to our Lord and Savior for writing and sharing what is on her heart. In this chapter in which she is writing about how even helping ease someone's burden 1/60th is a call from God, Margaret is talking about how we are the "salt of the earth": we are to go help preserve, flourish, and flavor the earth--those around us as Believers of Jesus Christ. How do we do that? By sharing one another's burdens even if in doing so, we are only able to do so a tiny bit: 1/60th.

My easement, call of God, of others' burdens, I believe, is to share my JOY in whatever way I possibly can: my words, hugs, laughter, etc.

What is your 1/60th?