Cut the Phony Lingo

 

“Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.’”
(John 11:41)

I’m on touchy ground, here, but let me plunge in, anyway: Have you fallen into the habit of speaking King James English during your prayers to God?

You are aware, aren’t you, that the thees and thous, the wouldests and shouldests were merely how the average person talked in 1611, when the King James version of the Bible was written? You are aware, aren’t you, that Abraham, David, Peter and Paul didn’t use that kind of language when they talked to God?

You are aware, aren’t you, that the Bible was originally written in the common language of the people and that the only thing you’re really doing when you pray like that is stumbling through a rather poor imitation of the way they talked not 2,000 years ago…but only 400 years ago?

Now, let me hasten to say this: If it works for you, keep doing it. But let me hasten just as quickly to say that you had better evaluate whether or not it works as well as you think it does.

Is that how you really talk?

If someone strode into my office spouting, “O, thou most wonderful Stephen! I beseech thee, as I come into thy presence, to grant this, thy humble servant’s wish…” I would be tempted to pick up the phone and call the men in white coats.

Frankly, who wants to be talked to, like that? God doesn’t need it…unless you do. Jesus didn’t talk to the Father like that. He used the common language of His day. And so should you – unless you know for sure that you can be absolutely real, honest and transparent with God while using the thees and thous.

You see, many people can’t get real with God when they talk like that. Their use of archaic language removes them and their prayers from everyday reality. They move into a kind of pseudo, mumbo-jumbo substitute for true holiness that masks who they really are and blocks out Who God really is, turning potential majesty into poor mockery.

Saul’s Armor

Remember when King Saul gave David his armor, in a vain attempt to help the young warrior fight Goliath? It was a disaster! Saul’s huge, thick, heavy armor worked fine for Saul, but the smaller David needed the complete freedom of movement necessary to whirl his sling over his head and send a smooth stone sailing straight for the giant’s unprotected forehead. If David had attempted to meet the enemy wearing Saul’s cumbersome stuff, it would have been David who lost his head, instead of Goliath.

All I want to do is help you be sure you’re using your sling. At least do what David did. He tried on Saul’s armor and found it was not for him. So humor me, as David did Saul, and try praying a time or two in everyday language, just as you would talk to your best friend. Jesus is your Best Friend.

If my suggestion to use everyday language proves a hindrance to you, then cast it off. I’m not the Holy Spirit and I’m not applying for the job.

But if you discover to your stunned amazement that praying to God in everyday language increases your intimacy with Him and makes your prayer sessions much more real, you may need to ask yourself if perhaps, for all these years, King James’ English has been nothing more to you than King Saul’s Armor.

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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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