People talk to pets, or small children, using a different voice than they use in their normal life. Not everyone does this with animals, but it is difficult to avoid talking to babies without switching to the “I’m talking to a baby right now voice.” This is especially true for folks who are not around babies much.

This seems to happen to some of us when talking to God too. It’s not the “talking to a baby voice,” but there is a common style of prayer that is different from the way people normally speak. When talking to God, a person’s voice might not vocally change the way it does with a pet or baby, but the words change. More and more, people pray and add “God” or “Lord” or “Lord God” into sentences where commas or periods normally go. A person praying the Lord’s Prayer this way today might read like this:

Our Father in Heaven, God,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, Lord,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, Lord, our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, Lord,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not, Lord God, into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

There’s never been a class, seminar, or sermon that instructs people to pray this way, nor has there been one to teach people to talk differently to babies. People just pick it up and it seems like the right thing to do. Maybe it feels spiritual or feels natural, to change the way one speaks because the person one is speaking to is vastly different than at normal times. Before he introduced the Lord’s prayer, Jesus said this:

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matt 6:7-8

Adding extra words to prayers doesn’t make them better, and people don’t need to add God’s name or title every few phrases to honor, connect with, or speak to him. Consider how you pray. Do you use your regular voice or do you add a kind of false spirituality to your prayers that are only empty words heaped up?

Pastor John Riley

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