There is something that has been bothering me a lot lately. I’m going to let you read a letter that I wrote to one of my best friends and I’ll explain why this is pertinent in just a moment:
Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me. Katie, you are so awesome and I’m just so thankful for that. Dude, thanks that I can just come to you when I’m hurting and you’ll be right there to listen. Best friend, I’m so grateful, Katie, that you don’t judge me for the things I’ve done wrong, but for who I am to you. Katie, I’m so thankful that our friendship goes deeper than most friendships do. You and I, Katie, are like sisters and no matter where life takes us, Katie, I know you’ll always have my back. Thank you for making me a better person. Friend, I’m just so grateful that you are one of my best friends.”
Ok, so you might have been wondering what was going on with all of the names being thrown in to each sentence. You might have just tried to ignore it and continued to read it or it might have annoyed you to the point of not being able to finish reading it. Sorry about that (kind of, but not really). Let me explain.
The letter was obviously to my friend, Katie. I wanted to thank her for everything she has done for me and for being one of my best friends. You, as the unfamiliar reader, do not know what all that entails and that’s okay because Katie and I both know what all she has done for me and that’s all that matters considering the letter was written to her.
Does the letter remind you of anything? I wrote it and made it sound similar in nature to how many people pray. Most of the time people overuse proper nouns when they are praying. One of the Ten Commandments states that we should not misuse God’s name. This not only means that we should not pair God’s name with inappropriate words, but it also means that we should not insert His name in places they should not go. Many times when we pray, we insert the words “God, Lord God, and Father God”. A lot of us don’t even realize that we insert those words in our prayers, but we do. When we use terms that describe God or even say His name when we are praying, we need to do so intentionally. If we insert God’s names into our prayer when we don’t even need to, we are misusing His name. He already knows what His name is, so there is no need for us to remind him 20 times in a thirty-second long prayer.
The letter that you read at the beginning wasn’t a real letter that was written to Katie, but hopefully you can see how it ties in. If I say the terms “Katie, best friend, friend, etc.” a bunch of times in a letter or in general conversation with Katie, I would sound like I don’t know who I’m talking to. When people use the terms “God, Lord God, Dear God, etc.” many times during a prayer, it seems like they don’t know whom they are talking to.
I feel that often times when we pray, we go through the motions and don’t really take the time to be intentional with our words. We use a lot of filler words. The purpose of prayer isn’t to sound like we know what we’re talking about or know what we’re trying to say. The purpose of prayer is to know Whom we’re talking to. By talking to God, we get to grow closer to His heart and we start to understand a tiny bit of who He is.
Talk to God and let Him hear what’s on your heart. You’re talking to the Creator of the universe. As scary as that sounds, He is also your Heavenly Father who loves to hear you talk to Him. Just be real with Him and act like you’re talking to your best friend. He knows you better than you know yourself. You don’t have to address Him a million times in a conversation and you don’t have to be formal. Just talk to God and be sincere. He knows you and your heart.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great when people actually mean it when they address God multiple times when they are praying and they actually know that they’re saying it. I don’t think the problem lies within the words themselves, but how they are being used. My point is, don’t use God’s names as filler words and be intentional about what we say.