Monday, July 30, 2007

Prayer Language Linguistics

Do you know the Lordijustwanna language? Primarily used in prayer, one hears it often on television, or from friends who may be of a different faith tradition than you. Here’s an example:

Dear Lord Father God in Heaven,
I just wanna hallow your name.
Lord, just let your kingdom come, and your will be done, here on earth just like it is in heaven.
Lord, just give us this day our daily bread,
And Lord, I just wanna ask you to forgive my trespasses just like I forgive those who trespass against us.
And Lord, just let me not be lead into temptation, Lord.
But deliver me from evil.
For Lord, I just wanna praise you and thank you and just, Lord, just give you the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Lord. Amen.

My question is: What is this word “just” doing there in all those sentences? How does it function grammatically?

Just” as in: I am only asking this one thing

“Lord just let your blessing” meaning: Just do it, Lord!

as in: Just in case

Is “just” being used a linguistic particle?

Is it a stalling particle, the same as “um..” or “uh…” or “er…” or “ya know…” or “like…”?

Does anyone know why so many people pray like this?


  1. Mike Baker said...

    It's an unintentional habit. People who pray like this are in churches of people who pray like this. People tend to talk like the people they are around and Christians pray using the prayer format of the Christians who teach them how to pray.

    This is why many liturgical Christians tend to phrase their prayers in "collect" or "Lord's Prayer" format instinctively.

    Another example of this is the habit of excessively addressing God in prayer:

    "Father God, I just want to thank you, Jesus, for your bountiful mercy, Father God. Most of all, Father God, we need your blessing in this situation, Father God."

    Nothing is meant by it and most people have no idea that they are doing it until you call them on it. If it meant something at one time, that has been lost by the people who instinctively copy it.