28 January, 2008

Just Divided Over What They "Just" Want God to Do

Macon, Ga - It is a typical Sunday morning at Temple Baptist Church in Macon. Sunday School has just started when Andrew Carney, the teacher of the Pioneers adult class stands up to take prayer requests. After a few minutes of taking requests he says "Brother Henderson, would you open our time of prayer, and after a few minutes or so, I'll close us."

Over the next ten or so minutes the class members pray, "Lord, just help us to grow...Lord, we just want to worship you today...we just want to reach out to the community more," etc. As the time of prayer closes uneasiness amongst the members sets in. One can easily tell that there is some kind of tension in the room.

What is happening these days at Temple Baptist is a phenomenon that is beginning to show up in many other places in Evangelical America. For years now, people have been asking God to "just" do this or to "just" do that, and now tensions are beginning to arise among church members about what they think God should "just" be doing.

"When I pray I ask him to 'just bless us,'" said Dianne Boutwell, a member of Temple. "I think that covers everything. We don't need to be limiting him in any other way."
But some disagree.

"Since it's obvious that God only does one thing at a time, I think it's important that we ask him to 'just help us evangelize more'" said Ronnie Williams, another member. "But it's hard to pray that when all these other people are praying against me with all of these other requests."

Indeed at Temple Baptist on any given Sunday one can hear over 100 different 'just' requests. Some pray "just grow us," while others pray "just lead us." Other requests include "just make us more mindful of the needs of others" and "just help us to remember who we are." The disagreements have become so severe now that the church is in danger of splitting in different directions.

"We at a critical point here" said Pastor Perry Adkins. "I for one pray that we would 'just be united' but I know that there are those who disagree with me. If we're going to survive we need to come together as one on what we think God ought to be doing right now. I know he's just waiting for us to tell him, but he's getting all of these different requests."

The church plans to hold a special congregational meeting this upcoming Sunday evening to discuss the issue. Adkins went on to comment, "Right now I'm praying that things will just go well. In fact, I've heard several other people pray the same thing lately, so maybe we're getting on track here."


Anonymous said...

I started to chuckle, at first, which is the usual warm-up exercise in reading your posts. But then I remember a deacon on our church leadership board who prays this way. He is so very sincere. He doesn't speak well publicly, has a hard time expressing his thoughts. Yet, if I needed someone to stand alongside me and call our people to serious prayer, he'd be the one. He loves to pray. He'll pause to pray before working on a car, before fixing some plumbing problem at the church. However, he uses this phrase all the time. Sometimes, it goes like this: Lord, we just want You to just bless us, just guide us and just ... just... just... work Your will. I have another man serving with me who will over use the name of the Lord when praying too: Heavenly Father, we come to you, Lord, and ask You, Father, to show Yourself sovereign, Lord.

Oh well, when I finally get my prayers perfected, I'll publish a book! Keep up the good humor, the blog-spotting and serious posts as well.

Brother Slawson said...

I think "Just" is quite scriptural...

I believe we are told somewhere that: "the Faith shall live by just..."

Not to mention the hymns:
Just A Closer Walk With Thee
Just As I Am

And... "Lord, build me... just a cabin... in the corner of glory land..."

Team Tominthebox News Network said...


Perhaps with all of my satires I ought to put a disclaimer. I suppose the point of this post was not to be ultra-critical of the prayers of others. Indeed there are people who use "just" a lot who are sincere. In the case you're talking about, where someone who is not a good public speaker and possibly gets nervous when praying in public, I can see that happening.

But I also have heard people who speak quite well publicly use this word over and over again. I suppose the point is, we (including myself) get caught in catchy phrases that we end up using in our prayers and often never really take the time to think about what we're saying. How often the phrase "bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies" has rolled off my tongue without me thinking about it. How often do we default to "Lord bless..." instead of actually thinking about what we want to ask the Lord for?

So I mean no offense. I simply meant to provoke thought. The language of prayer is important, and we need to be careful with what we say.


deverettbell said...

Just read the post, just laughed and felt Justified doing so.
Reminds me of the old song.
Found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peanut just now.
{Many verses to follow!}
And closes with; died anyway, died anyway, died anyway just n . . .

Just has an immediacy to it, so just stop it, your killing me.

Love the TBNN

Peter Kirk said...

Well, since God is just, surely we have to ask him to just do things? After all, he can't unjust do anything, can he? And if we want God to justify us, don't we have to pray something like "Lord, just if I have faith in you ..."?