“And now let’s have a word of prayer.”
I must have heard this phrase a million times in my life. I’ve probably used it myself 100,000 times. But the questions we have to ask ourselves are, 1) what the heck does this actually mean?, and 2) would someone who hasn’t spent a ton of time in church have any idea what we’re talking about?
My early money is on “I don’t know” as an answer to both…
The operative words in this phrase are “word” and “prayer”. So…
word (n.) – meaningful unit of language sounds; brief utterance; information; rumor; promise; command; password
prayer (n.) – a spoken or unspoken address to God in the form of praise, thanksgiving, confession, or a request for something
I’ll be totally honest here, the definitions for “word” surprised me. I think we can toss the last 5 out – “information of prayer”, “rumor of prayer”, “promise of prayer”, “command of prayer”, and “password of prayer” all seem to be a bit… weird. And the first definition is too textbookish for me.
So combining what’s left, that leaves us with, “word of prayer” – a brief utterance of a spoken (if it’s an utterance, it can’t be unspoken) address to God in the form of praise, thanksgiving, confession, or a request for something”.
Ultimately, I think “word of prayer” comes in at a solid B+. As with “humbly declare“, a search on BibleGateway reveals that the phrase doesn’t exist in scripture, which is a point against. “Word of prayer” gets a slightly higher grade than “humbly declare”, however, because it seems like less of an oxymoron. It’s still pretty churchy, though… And I can’t really remember a time when a “word of prayer” moment was actually brief (see above definitions). More often than not, if you hear someone call for a “word of prayer”, you’re dealing with a Prayer Pro, and if that’s the case I hope you’re not in a hurry to get somewhere.
For more information on Prayer Pros, grunts of affirmation, types of pray-ers, and more, I’m going to recommend that you check out Jon Acuff’s blog, Stuff Christians Like. While you’re there, check out his book on Amazon. He’s way funnier than I am, I promise.