If you’ve been around me or The Patch for any length of time, you know that I have a warm spot in my heart for words and language. I’m more of a hobbyist, meaning that I love to read and explore words and usage, and I love looking things up in the dictionary and thesaurus.
When I discover rare, uncommon words, I treat them as gems from a treasure hunt. Sadly, these sophisticated words rarely make it into my vocabulary cache for future use. I fear my brain finds it difficult to learn new linguistic tricks.
For the most part, I don’t think about my word repertoire . . . except when I feel the need to sound lofty and learned. Then I wish for easy access to all the words I know I’ve stashed away. Such situations arise mainly when I am feeling insecure about myself and hope to shape a favorable impression of myself.
I don’t worry about my words when I am chatting with dear ones, for this is when my heart is free from fear, resting and communing rather than seeking to impress.
You might think that prayer should be formal and ornate, considering it is a conversation with the God of the Universe. But I have found the opposite to be true: Prayer is like chatting with friends. It is the place where we are fully free to say what is real inside. There is no need to prop it up or make it pretty. God does not require me to use high-and-holy language; He longs to meet me in the commonness of my daily life where I use common words.
Here’s what Eugene Peterson says in the introduction to the New Testament included in The Message translation of the Bible:
“Some people [suppose] that language dealing with a holy God and holy things should be elevated—stately and ceremonial. But one good look at Jesus—his preference for down-to-earth stories and easy association with common people—gets rid of that supposition. For Jesus is the descent of God to our lives, just as they are, not the ascent of our lives to God, hoping he might approve when he sees how hard we try.”
God does not need my stately and ceremonial language. This frees me to love words without guilt for not implementing them . . . and to use whatever words I have at my access to commune with Him.
Image Source: Angel Ambrose, http://www.angelambrose.com/art/content/.