Not My Words, But Yours Lord

“Not my words, but yours Lord.”pray

Can we stop saying this?

Sorry, let me explain.

I studied Youth Ministry in college. It was a delightful major that spent muchf time emphasizing how to teach and to minister while maintaining a strong biblical foundation. In many courses, I had to periodically teach to and be evaluated by the class; it was an exciting and nerve-wracking opportunity each instance. Honestly, I am not a naturally gifted teacher, or at least not exceptionally so, so when it came my turn to teach, I labored over my lessons. I spent hours thinking about exactly what I wanted to say so that I could communicate clearly. I practiced speaking out loud in front of a mirror. I worked hard on them.

I’m sure most preachers spend a great deal of time agonizing over their sermons and messages, but the language they use doesn’t always communicate that. Most preachers will take to the pulpit and begin with a prayer that consists of some language similar to “Lord bless this message, and help everyone to understand not my words, but yours.”

That final clause, “not my words, but yours,” is what I take issue with.

When a teacher prays for a class before an exam, they pray “Lord help them to remember all that they have studied,” as opposed to “not their answers Lord, but yours.” So why do preacher’s get a free pass to use this sort of language in prayer?

I labor over my words. If I were to pray that same sentiment, I would be dismissing the work that I did and that God took pleasure in. When I hear this prayer, all I hear is that the speaker did not spend much time preparing and now needs Yahweh to give him the words, or that he does not have confidence in his own words.

I just don’t think that’s Biblical.

Ever read the psalms? They are a very unique collection of scriptures. They sit in the heavy tension of God’s words to us, and our words to God. The laments and the praise psalms are each carved out of personal experience; sometimes from a deep sense of abandonment and gloom, others out of a sincere heart of worship and joy. But despite different periods of composition and the wide range of emotion saturated in the lyric poems, the psalms were born in personal experience.

Our greatest ministry, our greatest sermons and messages, and the best lessons all come out of personal experience. We don’t need to dismiss our experience, language and preparation when we step up to the altar–quite contrary really.

So rather than praying “not my words, but yours,” pray “Lord use my words,” “Lord inspire this message like you did the psalms,” “Help me to recall what I have prepared,” “Holy Spirit follow my words as the wind and help others come to know you.”

Just use me.


3 thoughts on “Not My Words, But Yours Lord

  1. I think I see what you mean Trevor. I think their prayer may have two meanings behind it. The first is that they are adapting the Lord’s Prayer to fit their concern. Rather than “Not my will, but yours be done” they pray “Not my words, but yours be heard”. I think this also goes into the dying to self and allowing Christ to live in and through you so that it is no longer you that speaks, but Christ who speaks through you.

    My other thought is without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the best sermon in the world will be useless in turning the heart toward holiness. Just my take

  2. Trevor,
    I happened upon this post at a time when I was searching for something. It is actually 2016 July 4th. But I wanted to respond anyway believing it would also be good for me too:-)

    I do understand the conflict between God and us, where we stop, and he starts so to speak. Appropriate language for each depends on the conscious state of that individual. I will suggest to you that God himself is the consciousness of all men, “in whom we dwell and have our being.” Is there only one God? Is there only one image that man is made in? Is that image and likeness perfect? I think you will agree that there is much that we do not understand about our relationship with him and how he dwells in us.

    Now, I did notice something about what you wrote. “Honestly, I am not…” is how you described your skills as a teacher. “I AM” is God’s name, is it not? To declare that the power in you is not able to meet the need that the moment requires is to allow an internal state of being to exist that is “not of God.” Think about it. God is not the author of confusion, nor has he given us a spirit of fear, right?

    Think about this carefully. We are all faced with allowing God to come forth through us. The question is “how”? Our confidence in ourselves reflects our trust in God to a significant degree does it not? We simply cannot understand how we can “be” other than how we feel about ourselves, right? If all things are possible to he that is in me, and greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world, then you are the teacher at that moment in time that you needed to be according to God. Of course, you don’t have to accept this. The just shall walk by faith, not by sight. If you see yourself as “not,” then as you believe, so it is your experience. To feel the experience as labor was the first sign that there is a condition in you that needed renewing. Transform by the renewing of your mind, right? With what you may ask? With the truth. The truth is that you are capable of being what is required at any moment when you are dong God’s work and operating within his will. Even Jesus said, “I can do nothing of myself. It is he that is in me that doeth the work.” The requirement was to replace fear with faith and to see yourself as having received the outcome desired. Do this by living from the end and not from the view of I AM not. Live in the end results of what you want and give it your best at that moment.

    The way we view ourself is the problem. It is the limit that we declare is so, versus what is actually available. To recognize the feelings that are present in the moment, knowing that you feel less confident than you would like to be, but choosing to declare, not my words Lord, but thy words, is to release your view and invite him into the experience. This is a different level of consciousness that can exist only through experience which leads to understanding how his presence can work in us. We are made perfect in a time of weakness. Make this claim enough and you will evolve and become the teacher, the speaker, the (you name it) that you want to be. Keep seeking and I hope this was helpful.

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