Have you ever gone to a meeting of the Toastmasters?
The Toastmasters specialize in providing an opportunity for people to engage in what has been consistently reported to be the most frightening experience known to man –
And no, it’s not hang gliding.
Or taking a dip in a great white shark resistant cage.
Or braving 40 foot breakers while crab fishing in the Bering Sea.
It’s much more intimidating than any of that.
It’s public speaking.
And if the thought of giving a speech sends chills down your spine, imagine this:
At a Toastmasters’ meeting you would not only receive blunt and immediate feedback on your skills as a speaker, but every time you utter an “um” or a “ah” or a “y’know”, a designated member of the group will ring a bell!
Where do I sign up for that shark dive, again?
The point of this practice is easy to spot.
There are few things more annoying than having to listen to a speaker that fills their allotted time with 40% fluff.
And after a few rounds of this form of shock therapy, there is an amazing drop off on filler words and conversation crutches.
I couldn’t help but think of the Toastmasters when I saw the results of a very enlightening survey this week.
“Whatever” Reigns As Most Annoying Phrase
Nearly 50 Percent of Country Say “Whatever” Irks Them; Other
Choices: “You Know” and “It Is What It Is”
If you find yourself irked when someone gives you the “whatever” treatment, you’re not alone.
According to a Marist poll, almost half of Americans – 47 percent – said there’s no phrase more annoying than “whatever.”
Other candidates for most irritating phrases: “you know” netted 25 percent of the vote; “it is what it is” got 11 percent; “anyway” got 7 percent; and “at the end of the day” ended the day with 2 percent.
Some geographic tendencies also emerged. “Whatever,” for example, is more loathed in the Midwest – where it annoys 55 percent of respondents – than it is in the Northeast, where it bothers 35 percent.
It is hardly a news flash that the majority of people don’t enjoy a conversation loaded with meaningless buzz phrases.
But would it surprise you to learn that God feels the same way?
Consider thee following insight Jesus gives us on the subject of prayer:
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:7-8)
“Oh, come on Scott! You don’t mean that God finds the way we talk to Him as annoying as we find the way we talk to each other?”
When Jesus speaks of “vain repetitions, He isn’t just warning against speaking words without the slightest consideration of the meaning behind them – although that is a good place to start.
Have you ever sat through a service where it seemed like people were competing to see who could sound most like an auctioneer when reciting the Lord’s Prayer?
Whatever is going on at that moment, it isn’t about communication – it’s more about obligation.
How would you like it if someone felt the best way to build a relationship with you was talking as fast as they could?
But even when we do take the time to slow down and express ourselves to God in a public setting, how quickly our statements get peppered with words that are pretty much an accepted form of Christian cliche?
Try this experiment. The next time you gather with other believers to pray, count the times people use the word “just” in their prayers.
As in, “Lord we just love you. And we are just so thankful that You just hear our prayers and that You just love us so much.”
I have heard the word “just” used so often in public prayer that I am beginning to wonder if most of us would be rendered speechless without it!
Could you imagine if God sent an angel and had him ring a Toastmasters-like bell every time we uttered one of our patented phrases that sound spiritual, but are sadly lacking in meaning?
Now, don’t get me wrong.
God loves it when we pray.
And we don’t have to deliver a flawless oratory to please Him.
As Jesus pointed out, He already knows what we need and like any loving Father He is glad when we pour out our hearts to Him.
But try another experiment.
Next time you are in a place to publically pray – slow it down. God isn’t in a hurry.
Think through what you are about to express, and remember you are talking to the Lord, not delivering a speech before people.
Bathe every word you speak in the knowledge that Jesus died to make this moment of communion with the Father possible.
And at the end of the day, you won’t find yourself with a whatever kind of prayer life.
Filed under: Uncategorized |