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J*** is a four-letter word

February 18, 2013 3 comments

A four-letter word has crept its way into my prayers and perhaps it has done the same to yours. It’s not a word we would think is vulgar but I believe God winces when he hears me say it. It is a word that puts limits on a limitless God and constrains His ability to bless me. The word I am speaking of is “just”. Not the adjective describing His nature. God does not have a problem with that. However, when used as a qualifier I believe it can hinder the effectiveness of my prayers. I can’t even count the number of times I have prayed something like this:

“Father God, I just want to thank you for your faithfulness.”

Or

“God, I ask that you just help me to be a better father.”

While it is most likely unintentional, or a habitual word pattern I have developed, consider what we I am saying to God when I use phrases like this. Do I really only want to praise Him for faithfulness? Am I really seeking help in just one area of my life? The answer is an obvious “no”. But is it plausible that my Father means more to me and has more for me but my language limits both my giving and receiving of blessings?

Let me put this in terms I can deal with…like brownies and ice cream. I love both, and while they are each great on their own, when put together a sweet synergy happens that borders on perfection.

Let’s say I lovingly put a brownie in a bowl, scoop a huge “Pennington-size” amount of vanilla ice cream on top, then proceed to pour on my daughter’s favorite toppings like chocolate syrup, sprinkles, marshmallows, whip cream and a cherry to top it off. Placing it in-front of her she smiles and starts to eat it, enjoying the mixture of ingredients given to her. I stand-by with great satisfaction that she is enjoying what I blessed her with and after the last spoonful passes between her lips she turns to me and before walking out of the kitchen says, “Dad, I just want to thank you for the sprinkles.”

Sprinkles?

Am I grateful that she liked the sprinkles? Sure. Am I puzzled or even disappointed that she did not mention the syrup, marshmallows, cherry, or even the ice cream and brownie? You bet.

How many times do I do that to God? I know his goodness and complexity is such that I could never adequately show my appreciation to him but do I look past or take for granted the bulk of what he has given me, just thanking him for the “sprinkles”?

Taking another look at the dessert metaphor, as a dad, if I had a hot pan of brownies, fresh from the oven and a gallon of Blue-Bell vanilla ice cream in the freezer I would love to give some to my daughter. In fact, she is the reason for making them in the first place. If she just asks for a brownie, I would gladly give it to her but she would be missing out on the ice cream also available to her because she did not ask for it. I might give it to her anyways because I am a good father but I might also assume that she just wants a brownie and nothing else.

Scripture tells me that while God knows what I need before I ever ask for it. It is still dependent upon me to ask.

If I believe that everything belongs to God and that all good things come from Him, then I can ask for everything he has to bless me with. I can ask for the brownie and the  ice cream!

I believe that if I remove from my prayers words like “just” that naturally limit my praise and petitions that God will be faithful to bless me according to his will. That is good news because he tells me that he is willing to bless me exceedingly, abundantly over and above what I can imagine and ask for. So not only will he give me the brownie and ice cream, but because of his love for me, he will add what he knows will increase my joy like the syrup, sprinkles, marshmallows and the cherry on top.

Categories: Prayer, Words Tags: ,