Friday, November 18, 2011

Prayer Snobs

(NOTE: R.E.T.S. will be taking a few days off from writing.  Thus, we'll have a couple "guest authors," as well as Ajax and hopefully Yoda.)

A lot of Christianity seems to look at prayer as a magical incantation or ritual- Something I find to be ironic given the sheer amount of venom that is sprayed on anything having to do with magic. (Point in case: Harry Potter)

Think about it for just a moment. In order to pull off a "proper" ritual, everything must be in the exact order- Nothing can be missing, but nothing must be added. Every word must be exact, pronounced the right way, and for some, tone must be held for a certain amount of time.

Now, let us go into the church. In order to pull off a "proper" prayer, everything must be in the exact right order... Not a single "amen," name, request or unction can be missing. However, many also believe that using the Lord's Name too often will also screw up the prayer- so nothing can be added, either! Every word has to be exactly what is prescribed in seminary; they must be pronounced exactly right- (GEE-sUS, Gah-duh, Holey Sspeer-et-ah); not to mention that if the "Holey Sspeer-et-ah" is on you, then you must draw out certain sounds of every word.

Folks, I have always found this debate to be ridiculous, for several reasons.

1) The Lord said to let the children come to Him and not to hinder them. When we go into prayer, we are going before the Lord. Yet what do you think this debate does to children, when held around them? What do you think we do when we tell a child they should not, or do not need to, pray in the way they always have? Let the child come to a personal understanding of their own prayer style and prayer life.

2) I see prayers of all sorts throughout the Bible, and guess what? There are some that use the name of Jesus and some that do not. However, not once have they been the self aggrandizement they seem to be today. Sure, the Pharisees prayed just to be heard, but I'm talking about the believers. To continue to demand, or even believe, that there is a specific method to prayer is foolish- Moreover, if you actually believe this, and also believe that YOU'VE got it? ....Well, all pretty mausoleums line up just there.

3) I do not see the words "In Jesus name, Amen," written anywhere in the Bible. In fact, I don't even see the words "In Jesus name" at the end of a prayer or otherwise. So what?! I do see in many places after Christ's ascension, people praying for something very specific and doing so "in the name of Christ." For instance, "silver and gold have I not, but such as I have, I give to thee- In the name of Jesus Christ, rise and walk!"

4) There are some who find it foolish to address God more than once or twice in a prayer. I find it interesting that they do, because I see no reason why one shouldn't. Prayer is you and I speaking to God. I am not going to alter my prayer style to fit the preferences of any other human being- I am not going into prayer for their ears, I am praying to God's alone. If HE delivers me a Gibbs Slap and says to knock it off, then I will.

5) How proud do we need to be before we jump on someone else for their method of prayer? Jimmy prays with "in Jesus Name Amen" at the end. Johnny prays "in the name of Jesus, AH-men." Little Timmy, he says "God" or "Jesus" with nearly every sentence. You know what though? It is guaranteed that the Lord will hear their prayers, and He'll hear them long before He'll even bother with whatever "perfect prayer style" the theology snobs work out.

So, the question in my mind, when I see this sort of discussion, is almost never "should we use, or is it required to use, Jesus Name at the end of prayers?" Instead, it becomes "should this even be a discussion/debate?" Loxen had it 100% correct when he stated that prayer is mainly about the contact, and not the method or content. TC had it 100% correct when he stated it was about the heart more than anything. The fact is that if the heart is right, you could be talking to God about dust particles in a ray of sunlight and you would have an attentive and unwavering ear. You could pray for more sliced cheese packets for sandwiches, while saying His name a million times, and with your right heart, someone's going to walk through the door with sliced cheese.

However, if your heart isn't right, then you could be using the perfect prayer model while asking for a life to be spared... And guess what will happen? God'll listen to the child praying for extra blueberries in their pancakes before you, because their heart is right.


Nothing said here was meant to offend- If any of it did offend someone, then I ask two things: 

1) Please forgive me, as that was unintentional. 

2) If you're not inclined to forgive me, then put your big kid pants on, sit down, and shut up.


  1. Excellent post, Ajax! Glad to see our conversation was inspiring! lol

  2. This says a lot. Thanks for posting this today.

  3. I think there is a lot of truth to what you have said in that prayer should be an individual aspect, but there are also some additional thoughts you may want to consider.

    Since Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism, it might be interesting to consider how Judaism treats their prayers. George Robinson's "Essential Judaism" is an excellent resource for beginning studies on Jewish culture.

    Jews have a number of specific prayers that are used in a variety of times. Get up, go to sleep, eating, entering a room, and even when seeing something unusual or ugly. These prayers are a constant reminder of God and the individual, and community's (which is an important aspect), relationship with God. The prayers are fixed, and while someone might be corrected for saying them wrong, there is no definitive problem with minor errors.

    There is another point here, as well. In some Buddhist groups, they enter their meditation hall on one foot, the one I know of is the left foot. This is important, not because there is anything particularly special about the left foot, but because it is a way of saying, "I'm here to still my mind, and to meditate with my whole self". The ritualistic aspects of the practices are not important in and of themselves, but in what they represent. They represent the mindset that is being sought.

    In many cases, prayer encompasses the same aspects. The ritualistic aspects are important in that they help set the mindset that is important to worship. Communally, this has the same efficacy that it does in Judaism, which is why it is important in some aspects for the collective to worship in one manner.

    Individually it might be important to set your own rituals simply to maintain the same mindset. Whether you open your prayers in one manner, or close them in another, it is important to have an individual ritual, since it helps one focus.

    Just some thoughts. Prayer is a very interesting subject, I think there is much to learn from Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, and other Christians.

    1. Hello, Bhodi! Thanks for commenting!

      Ajax is not able to respond at the moment, as he's currently studying for a rather intense exam, but I wanted to make sure that you knew he was aware of your post.

      I believe he'll be addressing your thoughts as well, but I wanted to point out that nothing he wrote was AGAINST any particular way of prayer; rather, it was a statement on that very thing: People attempting to "correct" the way others pray.

      I like that you brought up Buddhists stepping in on the left foot. Are you aware that Buddhists are taught from youth to be right handed? Thus, stepping in with the left signifies that they are wholly committed to what they are doing- They have disciplined themselves to such a degree that even their "weakest member" is dedicated to this event.

      Excellent comment, and thanks again!


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