"Just" is a Four-Letter Word

Joel A Moroney | Jul 27th, 2011

There are certain words you just don’t use. Most of them are four-letter words. You know what words I’m talking about. You don’t need me to tell you what they are. There’s this one four-letter word that I have a particular problem with. It’s a word that is perfectly fine in some situations, but when used in other situations it gets me really worked up. I’d like to see this word banned from these situations. Crossed out of the dictionary and never used that way ever again.

That word is “just”.

Now, there are some good times to use the word “just”. If you’re using it as a word that is connected with justice, it’s a great word to use. “Our God is a just God. He will always do what is right.” That’s a good way to use the word. For those of you who know fancy grammar words, this is using “just” as an adjective.

But the word “just” can also be used to limit something. To make it smaller than it actually is. “It’s just a small mistake.” “It’s just a game.” “It’s just a flesh wound.” This is the adverbial use. And there are right and proper times to use “just” this way. But my problem come when using the word “just” during prayer time.

Here’s why it gets to me. Someone will stand up the front during church to pray. And they’ll start by saying “I’m just going to pray now.” In my head, I’m wondering what this person is saying, probably unintentionally, about prayer. Are they saying that there’s nothing special about prayer? I would disagree. Are they saying that prayer is unimportant? I would disagree. The same thoughts go through my head when the word “just” is used during the prayer. “Lord, we just pray that you do this thing for us.” When I hear this, I’m thinking that the prayer doesn’t think that God will answer the prayer. That they think the prayer is beneath God’s notice. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the prayer is saying, but I find it really distracting.

Because there is nothing small or unimportant about prayer. Prayer is a gift from God. The creator of the universe has given us the means to communicate to him directly. We can talk to him and ask him for the things we need. Request that he gives us good things. That he blesses us. There’s nothing “just” about this. This is an incredible privilege and power we have. Jesus has this to say about prayer:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)

God is a loving father who will listen to his children’s prayers. And he will give us what we need. Good things. God has promised that he will listen to our prayers. He has promised that he will answer his prayers. And we know, through God’s Word the Bible, that our prayers have the power to persuade God. Because of this, I think we are doing ourselves a disservice when we use the word “just” in prayer time. Because it takes something big and grand and important, and then it makes it smaller. It devalues it. It gives the idea that prayer really isn’t that big a deal.

But it is a big deal. It is important. Prayer is something we should treasure. So be careful in the way you speak about prayer. And consider striking that four-letter word “just” from your prayer vocabulary.

This article has also appeared on Pop Culture Christ.