Just: the four-letter word that has become a cancer in our conversations with God.

It’s a word with multiple meanings and wears a couple of different identities. When it comes through your mind or lips as an adjective, it catches God’s ears because it touches on one of His self-described attributes: “He is the rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4).  In that context, it fulfills its meaning: “based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.” Thanks, God, for being just.

Sometimes, though, it morphs into an adverb. When it does, it can become problematic: “simply; only; no more than.” Used in that manner, it creates boundaries that define limitations.

In a recent study by LifeWay Research, they found that Christians who pray (not all do) spend over a third of their prayer time using the word, “just.” For the average praying follower of Jesus, one of every three words in conversation with God is setting limits on what is being requested.

Let’s see: we take the time to do what God has invited us to do – to tap into his awesome power and potential – and defining our appeals with self-imposed limitations while in communication with the God who knows no limits. What’s wrong with that picture?

Paul knew how to pray, and his letters have given us some great insight about how he did it. Was he prone to use “just” as he spoke to Heaven?

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21).

No “just;” not one. Prayer without limits, to the God who knows no limits. That’s the model for prayer that can tap the immense potential of our Heavenly Partner in a way that unleashes His desire to be generous beyond measure while granting requests that align with His stated purposes. That brings Him pleasure while resulting in glory to Him. Everyone wins… when “just” is taken off the table.

Have your prayers become perfunctory and mundane? Or are you appealing to God today for things that only He can do? Is there a sense of dependency and desperation built into your prayer list, or have you found a pre-scripted prayer approach that is sincere, but benign? Whether you use the word or simply think it, have you fallen into the “just” trap when you file your petitions with the Almighty?

If you’re praying for me right now, please scrub just from your vocabulary. I don’t want Him to just cure my leukemia and restore me to health: I want Him to use this year-long health challenge to open doors for my impact in my coming years to be greater because of this experience. I want Him to operate without boundaries in responding to the prayers being offered on my behalf. There’s no “just” in my mind; He’s already gone way-beyond what we knew to ask for.

Monitor your mouth when you pray. It might be good to pray less words – maybe 37% less – and eradicate “just” from your prayer life. You’ll elevate your experience with a God without limits…

Bob Shank

PS: For up-to-date information on my current health, go to: CaringBridge.org

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