Biblish In Public Prayers

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Rippon, May 10, 2006.

  1. Rippon

    Rippon
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    What do you folks think of prayers in supposedly Queen Elizabeth's style ? I am tired of it . Why can't the Lord be addressed in public prayer in contemporary English ? By that I do not mean overladen with slang either . Shouldn't we address our Father (reverently) , in the same language we use the rest of the time ?

    The words thee and thou were originally used in reference to friends and people on a lower economic scale . The king was addressed as you (in the plural form ). But some today think that you must not call Him " You " . They think that is not showing reverence or something .

    I was looking at an old issue of Christianity Today ( 3/1/68 ). Andrew Blackwood had an article called " Thee , Thou , And All That " . He makes some good points I think .

    ... old-fashioned English sounds ghastly unless used correctly . It isn't just the pronouns . The verbs are infected along with them , and wrong inflection produces such oddities as " O thou that arteth " and " we cometh to thee . " Prepositions are different , too . And word order is different .

    A man may say to his boss , " How do you want me to handle this correspondence , Mr. Smith ? " A few minutes later he might pray about the same matter , " Holy Father , infinite in mercy , do thou guide me through the perplexities that beset me . " He is probably unconscious of shifting centuries ; archaic English is his natural prayer language .

    [ Blackwood closed with the following ]

    You are not praying to display your command of historical grammar . You are praying to praise God ( which you can do in any language ) and to help people . What language is most likely to help the people you are leading in prayer ? Jesus , the apostles , the Reformers , and the translators of the Authorized Version all thought that the language of their own day was the best .[ Shouldn't we have the same view with respect to our contemporary times -- Rippon ]
     
  2. Gina B

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    When I pray with others, it's in normal speech.

    When I pray on my own and am making a plea or just "chatting", it is in normal speech.

    When I am praying on my own and thankful or very serious, it is often with that good old English.

    Why? Because that's the language I'm used to having God communicate to ME in. When I pray and the scriptures are going through my head, it's natural language to me. It just flows, because in those very open quiet moments that's just how it is. You stand there and look at creation and you don't think "kewl", you stand there and the scriptures run through your head and become one with your soul and the words of God you have seen and tasted and touched become alive and you breathe them out.

    I think the author of this article wrote it without thinking it through first.
    That's my opinion. It makes me sad that something as deep and personal as my communication with God would be taken by this writer and cheapened, mocked. In fact, I think he should get himself on here and apologize for having said what he did. In old English.
     
  3. Rippon

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    Gina , I am in sympathy with much of what you said .

    I am afraid that Andrew W. Blackwood will not be available to post anything here . He passed away and went to Glory a number of years ago . He was a famous preacher at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Atlanta . He also taught homiletics . I had noted that his article was from 1968 .
     
  4. DeeJay

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    I agree. I dont think it can be anywhere as bad as it is here in the LDS culture. Listining to Mormons pray or Ex-mormons pray, you cant even understand prayers said here unless you have a masters degree in old english.

    I am trying to break my wife of the old english habit. I did not aquire this habit because my family never prayed when I was growing up.

    I dont think people are "praying to display your command of historical grammar" I think they are praying memorized lines they have heard and been taught from birth.

    I bet if you did a study, people who grew up in a house that prayed out loud on a regular basis are alot more likely to pray in old english. People who became Christans later in life are alot more likely to pray in common language.

    At least that is my observation.
     
  5. Rippon

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    BTW Gina , Blackwell was not mocking folks of your persuasion . He was aiming his comments mainly toward public praying .

    Yes DeeJay , I can imagine how distracting those prayers ( and pray-ers ) of the LDS way must be to hear .
     
  6. John of Japan

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    From What Christ Means to Me (pp. 21-22, c. 1927), by famous missionary Wilfred Grenfell, telling how he got saved as a young doctor:

    "One evening in 1883, going down a dark street in Shadwell on my way from a maternity case, I passed a great tent, something like a circus. A crown had gathered and I looked in to see what was going on. An aged man was praying on the platorm before an immense audience. The length of the prayer bored me, and I started to leave as he droned on. At that moment a vivacious person near him jumped up and shouted, 'Let us sing a hymn while our brother finishes his prayer.'"

    This so intrigued Grenfell that he stayed to hear the message. He wrote, "The preacher was an ordinary-looking layman, and I listened all the more keenly because I felt he had no professional axe to grind. Some one, after the meeting ended, gave me a booklet entitled 'How to Read the Bible,' by D. L. Moody, the man to whom we had been listening" (p. 23).

    It was Moody's common sense on the matter of prayer that led (humanly speaking) to the salvation of a young doctor who later became a missionary, because it was Moody who jumped up and interrupted the old man's formalistic prayer. [​IMG]
     
  7. Rippon

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    Wow , that was neat ... " while our brother finishes his prayer . "
     
  8. Pipedude

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    Some of us, having no other models, learned to pray by imitating the Bible and the hymns.

    Blackwood is right when he says that butchered KJV English in prayer is exceptionally counterproductive.

    His now-40-year-old point is probably moot these days. I occasionally hear a macaronic passage or two from a layman, but never one totally Elizabethan. Never. Except in Lutheran or Episcopal liturgical settings, and then only sparingly and grudgingly.

    Unless we are willing to sanitize the hymns, I think discretion would advise to leave the Elizabethans unmolested. We'll die soon enough, and the barbarians will have it all to themselves.

    (The words of Paipdudiah are ended.)
     
  9. Ransom

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    What do you folks think of prayers in supposedly Queen Elizabeth's style ?

    If it's being done to sound more "reverent," that's one thing - and I'm sure I find butchered Jacobean English as cringeworthy as you, if not more so.

    But if the person saying the prayer is just more comfortable speaking that way when he is talking to God, what of it? It's better that he thees and thous than that he doesn't pray at all.

    Methinks thou dost protest too much. [​IMG]
     
  10. genesis12

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    It (thee, thou) is the style I grew up with, and abandoned by choice. In my youth I thought it was somehow "holy" to pray that way. My wife still prays that way. No big deal. The thee, thou form still exists in the German language, in everyday speech.
     
  11. Gold Dragon

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    I don't think I've heard a prayer in Elizabethan english since I was a kid. But I do hear a lot of prayers in modern Christianese that are incomprehensible to folks who didn't grow up in church in the last few decades.
     
  12. JackRUS

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    I like D.James Kennedy, but he prays that way all the time.
     
  13. Marcia

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    I don't like the "thee" and "thou" language - it sounds artificial and sometimes over-pious. However, if someone wants to pray that way, I think they should. I just don't prefer it for myself. Actually, I rarely hear anyone pray like this.

    I agree with Gold Dragon about the Christianese -- and not just in prayers! When I was saved and started going to church, it was confusing to hear terms like "pre-trib," "the rapture" (I honestly did not know what it was even though I had gone to some churches when growing up), and then the odder things like "a hedge of protection." I had no idea what they were talking about and didn't want to ask.

    Well, sorry, got off topic a bit there. Maybe I'll start a thread on Christianese.
     
  14. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Personally,

    I don't think it really matters to God, and therefore, it doesn't really matter to me. Pray in any language you feel led to.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  15. Rippon

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    I did not mean to imply that anyone attempting to pray in a language form 400 years old is not sincere in their devotion to the Lord . I am aware that exclusive users of the KJV would be more inclined in that direction . But it just seems that they are following a tradition instead of being natural in their speech . Again , I am talking about public prayers . Some who pray in that manner are being pretentious and that irks me . We don't need to hear a sanctimonious voice using flowery language full of affectation . Sometimes I think some who pray like that are doing so to impress the human auditors and not to address the Almighty .
     
  16. Pipedude

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    POSITION 1:
    POSITION 2:
    Rippon, I've heard jerks praying in both languages, but I've never seen a correlation between jerkishness and Elizabethan English.

    If you know someone's heart, state your basis for it. If all you have is their KJV language, you'd best back off from this unwarranted slander. I hear such remarks routinely from this NIV generation and I am appalled at the lack of critical thinking that precedes them.

    (And no, interjecting the word "some" doesn't excuse it unless you have a way to read hearts.)
     
  17. Rippon

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    I have apparently offended you . I am sorry .

    I do not profess to know anyone's heart . I am merely being observant . I don't know how this enters the arena of slander . Using the word " jerks " doesn't enhance the subject though .
     
  18. Gina B

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    Please be nice to each other! There's a really bad irony going on when Christians put their quills up at each other over prayer. It's confusing my aura...making it all wavy!
     

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