F You (and other prayers I pray)

mask offMartin Luther once said, “The fewer the words, the better the prayer.” I’ve taken that to heart over the years.

Partly because Jesus taught us to pray short prayers. Have you ever noticed that if you say the Lord’s Prayer out loud, with a stop watch in hand, it takes you only about 25-30 seconds to say the whole thing?

But mainly because that’s what works for me – lots of quick prayers, pregnant with meaning. Maybe I pray this way because I’m a guy. Maybe its because I hate pompous prayers. Or maybe its because I like to listen more than I speak.

Regardless, here are the top 6 prayers that tend to cross my lips.

Thanks
Sometimes prayed before a meal. Usually after something happens that I’ve been hoping will happen. Occasionally used sarcastically when something crappy occurs. Sometimes prayed when I sense God has changed his mind about something I’ve been asking Him to do.

Why?
I pray this a lot, always without an answer.

F You
I’ve prayed this only three times. First was when my cousin Craig tragically passed away. The second when my dad wasn’t healed of cancer. The third was a time I’m not prepared to share quite yet.

Seriously?
Tends to be the prayer I pray most.

Okay
A prayer of surrender, like when I give into His will. Tends to be the prayer I pray with the most passion, and resignation.

I Love You
Prayed this prayer this morning. I find it’s a prayer best prayed with no words after it.

What are your most common prayers?

Brian loves helping Christians live thoughtful, courageous lives. He's a popular blogger, author, and pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

  • Jack Cottrell

    Brian, did you intend to shock us with the title and prayer #3?  If so, to what benefit?

    • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

      As an act of honesty, and shame. Shame that I prayed that, but honesty to others that I had. I’ve found people are helped by unflinchingly sharing my mistakes, as well as my victories. Not intended to be in poor taste.

  • Pastorcameron

    Sorry, Brian.  But this is inappropriate and borders on blasphemy.  Using the F-word in a prayer to God?  C’mon, Brian.  You’ve always enjoyed pushing other people’s buttons and living close to the edge.  This time you went too far.  Read Ephesian 4:29-30.

    • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

      Approve.

    • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

      Barry, first off, I agree with you. Praying that goes too far. Second, I disagree with you, its not borderline blasphemy, it is blasphemy. The difference, I guess, between me and you is that undoubtedly you’ve never prayed something like that to God. That’s a good thing. The other difference is that if you did, you probably wouldn’t share it. That’s not so good. What I try to do with my writing here on this blog, as well as in books, is be brutally honest about who I am, flaws and all. God seems to do a better job of using to help people than when I only highlight my strengths and successes. I appreciate you speaking the truth in love to me Barry. I always have. Always will.

      • Michelle

        @ Pastor Cameron.  I agree with you that it’s shocking, but I am always so inspired that Brian is willing to share who he is — human with flaws and imperfections.  While the language might seem shocking, I imagine that many people have said things to God that are of a similar sentiment but with a lot more words — “I’m so angry with you…how could you do this?!?” or that people have acted upon it (instead of praying it) and turned their back on God for a period of time in an act of “f you.”  If we have a relationship with God, it’s not surprising that we’d say things that are at times disrespectful, especially when we are faced with something that is deeply painful.  

      • http://www.facebook.com/philecia.masi Philecia Masi

        I’m touched by your honesty. I have been attending a different church and I forgot how to the point you are. I have always been to scared to pray anything like that (maybe my Catholic upbringing). I still have a lot of hurt to work through. I still don’t understand how God works. I think God desires a real relationship not an edited one and He knows our thoughts and I’m sure a lot of people think that and don’t pray it-What is the difference.

        • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

          Approve.

    • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

      Barry, first off, I agree with you. Praying that goes too far. Second, I disagree with you, its not borderline blasphemy, it is blasphemy. The difference, I guess, between me and you is that undoubtedly you’ve never prayed something like that to God. That’s a good thing. The other difference is that if you did, you probably wouldn’t share it. That’s not so good. What I try to do with my writing here on this blog, as well as in books, is be brutally honest about who I am, flaws and all. God seems to do a better job of using that to help people than when I only highlight my strengths and successes. I appreciate you speaking the truth in love to me Barry. I always have. Always will.

  • Abbysmom813

    Thank you for your honesty and openness in sharing.  I think a prayer of “F you” is a screaming cry for God… it shows the rawness of your emotion and the depth of your pain. 

  • Diane Stortz

    OK, two thoughts. First, the post doesn’t communicate any “shame” (I’m referring to your replies in the comments) about the F You prayer, so it leaves us wondering. (Yes, the editor in me is talking.) Second, if you always spoke to your wife, or your best friend, in soundbites like these short prayers, would they be pleased? Just wondering …

  • Karen Grizzanti

    Brian, I have prayed all these prayers. Maybe didn’t use the “F” word, but cried out “I have proclaimed my faith in You and You have only made a fool out of me!” I think any of us who have not only had our hearts broken, but obliterated unjustly, would understand.

  • skchwoodford

    Brian,

    I wonder about you sometimes. F You?  You are honest, I give you that.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/wendy.cayless Wendy Scott Cayless

    Perhaps
    a pointer to the Psalms might be appropriate? Working through deep
    anger towards God in prayer requires more than a F You epithet hurled at
    the Father, surely?

    • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

      Wendy, that’s a great point. I talk about that in chapter 8 of my book Second Guessing God. If you haven’t read it message me and I’ll send you a copy. Talks about exactly what you’re referencing.

      • Tammie

        I have been SO wanting to read your book again, esp that part, because it really helped me to be more real with God, & doing so broke down a barrier that has been there for a very long time.  I have always had a hard time telling God that I am mad at Him.  I have done so, but in a really polite, fearful way, & it was only after reading your book that I realized that I wasn’t being real when I prayed that way. 

        Yes, I was being reverent, and yes, I believe that we need to be reverent & to fear God, but at the same time, we can’t deal with what’s going on if we don’t really give it all to him.  And there are times when “all” includes some really hard feelings  towards Him.  In those times, I think that it’s like any other relationship – things are goign to stay superficial if we can’t be who we really are & if we can’t express what we feel abt the relationship & the other’s actions. 

        I forgot exactly how you put it (I loaned my copy of your book to someone & she never returned it), but it was something abt how He won’t help us change those feelings or deal with them, if we don’t give them to Him.  Somethign abt that really struck me & helped me to be able to really have it out with God.  That was NOT a short prayer, by any means, it was NOT reverent, & it WAS incredibly scary…..& I have since apologized (& am still admittedly a bit scared that I blew up at Him like that), but at the same time, it truly did break down a barrier that had been causing my relationship with Him to be much more distant than I want, and I think it started some healing that was really needed.

        I’ve also asked Him to help me forgive Him, which sounds insane, because clearly He never does wrong, so I should have no reason to need to forgive Him…..but that’s another thing that came out of reading your book – I realized that as irrational & probably sinful it is for me to feel like I need to forgive Him, it doesn’t cahnge the fact that I still feel that way, & He is the only one who can really help me deal with that….and I definitely need to be able to do so if I want to grow closer to Him…..& I Do want that more than anything!

        So sorry this is so long winded – believe it or not, I do actually sometimes pray concise prayers, too (“Help” is probably one of the most common of those for me)…..I just want to let you know again that I truly believe that God has used your book & your blogs to really get thru to me on several occasions now….actually it’s pretty amazing the things & people that He uses since sometiems they are the very thigns that seem to be us at our worst.

        • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

          Tammie you are a much stronger person than you realize. Thank you for sharing this, and the kind words about my books.

  • Darren

    Did Madonna sneak into your house and leave a blog post?  A little shock factor to try to get attention?  My problem is not that you have uttered those Gods to God.  I have too.  My problem is in the way you chose to try to leverage it for shock value.  It is #3 on the list so why would it be the title? Hmmm….?

    I reached a point in my life that I cursed God.  With all the raw emotion of a man that was lying in a gutter I screamed at God and cursed him.  However the problem I have is calling that a “prayer”.  The definition of prayer is “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship”.  Even though mine could be considered a form of a cry for help I never refer to my moment as a moment of “prayer”.  There was nothing solemn about it.

    So for the post, +1 for transparency, -1 on execution.

    • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

      Darren, point well taken.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=589604950 Jennifer Fowler

    i personally take the “f” you God prayer to be like “Screw you God why the heck did you let that happen to me” when something bad happens to you. Thats how I took it. But after reading this I sure do the “F you” prayer a lot because theres a lot of bad things that come up one after another. and a lack of “Thank you” for what I do have. Its indeed a lesson I need to learn and need to work on. I know God is out for the greater good but sometimes I get sick of waiting to get better. Im not perfect I think its good to have a balance of different kinds of prayers beacuse sometimes I dont think we can help but have an “F you” prayer once in awhile.

    • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

      Thanks for sharing that Jennifer. I’ve prayed it only a handful of times, but it was real and gut wrenching when I did. And I can’t guarantee that I won’t pray it again at some point.