A lot a people, when they pray in public – I guess most of the time when they are “leading” a prayer time – end up referring to God in the third person?
On the surface, I must admit this sounds like nit-picking. But doesn’t this underscore the fact that these folks are not praying to God, they are praying to the people. Maybe a better way of saying it is they are praying for the benefit of the people, for the people’s ears. Not for God’s ears.
If I’m talking to my friend, Sam. Would you think it odd if I said to Sam,
“Sam, my friend Sam, I just want to thank you, Sam, for this Dr. Pepper, Sam. And if it’s Sam’s will, I know Sam will join me for supper. Sam has always been a good friend to me. Supper has always been good when Sam has come to my house for supper.”
OK, I think you get the idea. Sam would think I’m nuts!
If I’m talking to you, I mean “really” talking to you. I will not talk “about” you in the third person. The above conversation would have gone something like …
“Hi Sam. Thanks for the cold Dr. Pepper. I appreciate you thinking of me. Say, will you come to supper this evening? I’d love for you to come over to the house.”
God looks at the heart, not the words we say. So I’m not saying we sweat over every word. I am saying that our words are an indicator of our heart. If we find ourselves praying to God in the third person, I encourage you to make sure you’re talking to God and not trying to impress your neighbor.