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10 March 2011


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I really don't like the "Lord we just..." as well. My kids participate in some "Christian" but not Catholic activities and the leaders stumble over what they want to say. I also think folks that do it also want to minimize what they are asking for...as in I just wanted a little help, I'm not asking for much! It seems counter to that which they are actually asking. If it's worth asking for, stop saying just.

LeeAnn Balbirona

I grew up with folks who prayed this way (mainly at school)...one, it's filler, when prayer is spontaneous and the leader doesn't know quite what they're going to say and two, it's meant to convey humility. As in, could we ask you just a little favor, God? Would you hear us please? It's more an annoying habit of speech than anything else. I have family that start every prayer with, "Father God..." or some other less usual terms of address (instead of Lord Jesus or Heavenly Father). Every church has their quirk, I guess, when they don't share a common book of prayer.


Maybe it's because this type of spontaneous, verbal prayer is taught....verbally. In other words, people learn this type of prayer by listening to others.

I like the term "prayer tic", because that's exactly what it is, and we all have them.

I didn't get a chance to mention something down below about rote prayer and it's this: rote prayer is perfect for when you want to cry out to God and don't have any words to express it. In my life, I've given birth to a baby who was born completely gray, and that they had a hard time resuscitating. No "Lord, we just"s came out of my mouth, just Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Because that was all I had. (And they worked.)


"I really don't like the "Lord we just..." as well...."

I acrually didn't want to criticize it, so much as just point it out as an interesting and kind of funny difference, probably contagious -- as Robin said, when people hear other people say it, maybe it becomes part of what people think "prayer language" sounds like, and they pick it up.

I assumed it was completely unconscious until I found that site that asserted it was a way of marking speech -- "to underscore that this is prayer." And that made me wonder if perhaps it serves the same purpose as switching to archaic language used to ("Oh Lord we beseech thee..." -- to mark prayer-language separate from other speech. Only archaic language is maybe losing its appeal in our very-familiar times, so some other marker is needed.


My mom's parents got involved in the Catholic charismatic movement at one point, and ever afterward tended to deliver "we just" prayers -- having picked up the spontaneous grace habit. A lot of Protestant friends growing up did "we just" prayers as well.

Of course, the thing is, once you catch onto the "we just" you notice how incredibly pervasive it is.

Jennifer Fitz

I think it might be a southern thing? Or not, I don't know. But listen to a southerner give a public welcome speech:

"I just want to thank you all for being to day. It is just such a pleasure to see so many of you here. I am just thrilled at this chance to welcome you. I am just so happy to introduce our guest speaker . . ."

Seriously. Put a mic in front of a gracious southern lady and ask her ad-lib something friendly and respectful, this is what you get.


(BTW: I like both types of prayer, and use both in CCD. I probably say "just", but can't be sure.)



"In my life, I've given birth to a baby who was born completely gray, and that they had a hard time resuscitating. . No "Lord, we just"s came out of my mouth, just Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Because that was all I had. (And they worked.)"

Oh yes. From my last birth story, when the baby's shoulders got stuck:

"My breath comes in and out in prayers, my body pushes out the prayers too, I could not stop them if I tried, it is good that my lips have formed them so many times before."

(That's part IV here:) http://arlinghaus.typepad.com/blog/2010/03/leos-birth-story-iv.html


I agree with the commenter who said that it's really how we speak. If we paid attention to our everyday language, I would venture to say that we often add "just" as a qualifier. I find myself saying, "I just really want a good day" or "Can we all just get along?" or "It was just crazy!" .... So when praying in everyday language, the same thing can come out. It isn't a form of humility or a prayer language ... it's the way we actually speak. Like the word "like". Annoying but there. :) I'm a Protestant and we do make fun of ourselves for it, though. See this:


As an aside: I think God can hear me with or without it.


Thanks for the comment, brooke! I'm glad you didn't take it as me making fun of you. :-)

Erin Hale

Dang, I can't believe I missed the opportunity to comment on this post! (Well, I'm commenting, but late...) The "just" phenomenon was prevelant at the Christian clinic where I used to work...we started every meeting in spontaneous prayers which were liberally sprinkled with "justs."

Occasionally, I liked to throw everyone a curveball by volunteering to pray aloud and simply reciting the Our Father. Last time I did it, a coworker said, "Hey, Erin, thanks for that throwback!" As though the Our Father was some sort of outdated polyester suit. :(

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