“I guess all we can really do is just pray.” No sooner had the words slipped from my mouth when my new friend, Theresa, stopped me. “Excuse me, I’m sorry, I have to get on my bandwagon for a moment,” she said. Then she proceeded to talk about how the mindset of “just pray” is a statement of how powerlessly we approach prayer. “I don’t mean to rebuke you,” she said somewhat apologetically, “I just feel really strongly about that.”
Ouch. I knew Theresa was right, but then, she was so right that I scarcely felt the sting of her rebuke. All I could feel was overwhelmed by the truth of her “just pray” bandwagon. To be sure, the word “just” originally had something to do with a sense of righteousness, morality or fairness. “Just” connotated upholding or being something good.
Rarely these days do we use the word “just” in that sense, though. Now the meaning has more to do with a sense of getting by – like: “we had just enough gas to get to the station,” “I’m just looking,” or “Just give me a minute.” As one dictionary put it, “just” means “not better, worse or more important than what you are mentioning.” That’s not a big deal when you are just talking about ordinary things. But, when such is applied to prayer, oh my.
Of course, meanings change, and what is true of an expression today may not be true in years to come. However, for now, the word “just” currently conveys really nothing in particular. So, it’s like a verbal shrug of the shoulders, a dismissive wave of the hands, a disrespectful roll of the eyes. Given that, to say “just pray” is kind of like minimizing the power of Heaven’s Throne.
To say “just pray” is like waving ones’ hand dismissively toward God, as if saying, “I’ve done what I can do; let’s see if You can do anything.” To say “just pray” is kind of like rolling your eyes with a yawn.
While I don’t think we consciously mean any of this when we say “just pray”, I do believe this attitude might just betray something we ever so slightly believe about prayer.
But here’s the deal: In prayer, we are kneeling at the throne of God Himself asking for all the power of heaven to come to our aid. In prayer, we are admitting our weakness and asking for His strength. In prayer, we are calling out to the One who has every resource, every asset, and every means to provide our needs. In prayer, we are doing what Jesus told us and modeled for us to do.
To pray is not our last resort after we’ve tried everything else. To pray is not just an intermediate stop, on our way to getting what we want. To pray is not merely an option along the way that may or may not produce results.
Prayer is to be our first resort, our best option, our highest hope, with everything else falling in place behind it.
And “just” – well, it just doesn’t convey that.
So I won’t “just pray”; I will pray.
Can I hear an amen?