Words. Studies have shown that the majority of people speak about 16,000 words a day. Words are important. Words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 confirms what we have all experienced in life...the tongue can bring life or death. I have been on both the giving end and the receiving end of words of life and death. But I see this verse applying in more ways than words just being kind or mean, building up or tearing down.
Every word comes with a definition. Every definition of a word is made up of other words. Words can take on different meanings as time passes and culture changes. Words can become so overused that they lose the impact of their original intent. This last statement is what this series of blogs on the language of worship is all about. Words that are intended to describe our relational interaction with God and others, that with overuse and careless use can be reduced to the sense of just going through the motions. The difference of life and death.
Pray. If asked to define the word I think most people would describe some form of talking to God. This is a great starting point as it implies a relational engagement with God which is the intended purpose. Other words used to describe the original intent of pray are beseech, implore, urgency, and fervent.
As I have been on my own 'worship is life' journey I have taken note of how we use the words pray and prayer. We use these words so often, and one could argue carelessly, that what was intended to be an ongoing dialogue with our Creator throughout the day can become a compartmentalized, routine, lifeless act.
My own response is probably going to sound a bit extreme but I have stopped using the words pray and prayer. Instead, I have been challenged with how I can communicate a more relational dynamic by using more relational language. Before a meal, instead of saying, "Let's pray quick so we can eat" I will say something like, "Let's give God thanks for this food." Instead of telling someone, "Let me pray for you" I will say, "Let's agree together before the LORD."
While our words don't have the power to make true relationship happen, they do have the ability to encourage a perpetual relationship with God as opposed to the obligatory shout out. Worship equals relationship. The purpose of life is relationship. Worship is life!