You know you’ve heard it, and you know you’ve done it. You’re in that meeting where you’re asked to pray. Forget for a moment that you hate being put on the spot for prayer and consider what happens. You quiet yourself, you bow your head, you close your eyes, and then you say it.
“Lord, I just pray that . . . ”
Wait, what? You just pray? You have direct and free access to the Creator of the universe (Eph. 3:12) and you “just” pray to him? Something is off when that happens.“Just” praying diminishes (1) your request and, more importantly, (2) the person of whom you are making the request. Think of the ways you use the word “just” as an adverb.
- It might mean “exactly,” as in, “this is just the one I wanted.” I doubt that’s what you mean when you “just pray.”
- It might mean “recently,” as in, “I just saw the guy wearing the purple and gold shirt.” Again, doubtful.
- It might mean “barely,” as in, “I just missed the cut for the basketball team.” (In my case, that is far from the truth. I was cut early on in the basketball process.)
- It might mean “really,” as in, “This is just the best date I have ever been on.”
I doubt that you mean any of those when you “just pray.” No, I think you mean the fifth way, which is defined as “merely” or “only.” That isn’t the prayer of someone who knows who God is and what he is capable of. Nor is it someone who has the confidence to approach that person with boldness. Imagine Paul praying like that for the Ephesians:
14 For this reason I [just] bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 [and just pray] that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith— [and just pray] that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and [just] to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, [just] that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (Modern Prayer Version)
Powerful, right? Confident, right? No. Weakened and silly. I see no such prayer in the Scriptures. Not one.
Christian, you have the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead living inside of you (Rom 8:11). You have access to the living God—the one and only. He wants to hear your requests (Eph 6:18) and we should want him to approach him and ask with confidence. There is no “merely” here, there is only Christ.
Stop “just” praying and start making your requests clear, confident, Christ-centered, and expectant that God hears, knows, and responds to his people.