Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pet Peeve: "I Covet Your Prayers!"

Every now and then there is a saying among Christian circles that, I must confess, drives me crazy. 

One that I thought had died off but seems to be gaining new life is the phrase, “I covet your prayers.”  We all know what is meant by this, but do we have to phrase it this way?

I’m pretty sure I know how this phrase got into circulation.  In the book, “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, he writes about how social fads begin.  They start when someone of influence says or does something that is perceived as innovative.  This could be anything from a simple catch phrase to wearing a pair of old-fashioned Hush Puppies shoes to a swank gathering.  When the innovation is introduced, it will pick up steam if there are other influencers who get influenced by the innovation.  Then, those influencers go to their spheres of influence and begin to replicate the innovation.  If this pattern repeats itself, it creates a new social fad.

So let’s get back to the phrase, “I covet your prayers.”  Most likely, someone of influence used this phrase in a gathering of other influential people.  Those influential people were impacted by this innovative phrase that gave a new sense of urgency to prayer.  Then, they went to their own spheres of influence and began using the phrase.  From there, other people of influence picked up on the phrase and it eventually became standard vernacular for Christian communities.

But here’s my problem . . .  since coveting is obviously one of the big no-no’s of the Ten Commandments, how did this ever become a “Christian” phrase?  This makes about as much sense as me saying, “I am lusting after the young people in my community to come to Christ!” Or how about, “I have a murderous desire to teach the Word of God.”  Both of these latter examples do a good job of describing a particular sentiment, but we would all agree they are not appropriate.  If these latter examples are not appropriate, how can the former phrase be appropriate?  It isn’t.

My next question is . . . when Christians use this phrase, do they think about the biblical definition of “covet” and misuse it anyway or are they simply repeating “Christian” verbiage without any thought process?  Whatever the answers may be, they are both bad.

So, please . . . for goodness sake . . . l covet your attention to this matter . . . Oops, I mean I desire your attention to this matter.  (Did you notice how acceptable “covet” was in this sentence because of the numerous times you and I have heard it misused?)

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