ACTIVE VERBS IN PRAYER, 05.02.20 

CONTINUING PRAYER SERIES . . .. .

 

STUDY CORNER is going to look at some examples of the function of ACTIVE VERBS IN PRAYER. PSALM 119, rich and vibrant in its multiple forms of prayer and poetry, is also generous in its use of active verbs. STUDY CORNER will therefore zero in on examples of active verbs in prayer, taken from PSALM 119. 

What is an active verb, anyway, and why does it matter?

Active Verbs are expressive of a clear and distinct behaviour or action which the speaker or writer is assuming responsibility for. They are called active verbs because they are suggestive of action. They are neither the recipient of the action,  nor are they simply relaying a story about that action, but are either performing the action, or directing that an action be taken up in response to a specific request. 

What is significant about an action verb in relation to one’s prayer life is that the use of action verbs communicates very clearly to the Lord that the individual who is praying is intentional in regards to either that which is being asked, or that to which a commitment is being made.

Let’s look at some quality examples from PSALM 119:

17 

Deal bountifully with Your servant,

That I may live and keep Your word.

18 

Open my eyes, that I may see

Wondrous things from Your law.

22 

Remove from me reproach and contempt,

In each of the above passages, it is the Psalmist who is actively submitting himself to the Lord’s Hand. The active verb is requesting a specific action from the Lord, through which he very specifically wants to achieve a particular outcome. It’s a direct approach used when someone is serious about getting whatever it is that they want done, to be done. It is quite the opposite of a fearful, timid, passive, half-hearted request that is so often used in prayer. It is more of an assertive statement that says I want this done.

On the other side of the coin, there is an active verb usage that is equally productive when the person praying responds actively in regards to their own behaviour and participation, making an active commitment to what they are intending to do/stop doing. Such an active verb communicating a commitment, a specific intention, is saying “look I’m serious about this; I am intending to do my part; I am taking responsibility for my part in this. I want to get this thing done.”  

Let’s look at a couple of examples, again from PSALM 119:

44 

So shall I keep Your law continually,

Forever and ever.

45 

And I will walk at liberty,

For I seek Your precepts.

46 

I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings,

And will not be ashamed.

 

NOTE: the very choice of wording indicates a specific intent – i.e., it’s non-negotiable: this is what he is going to do. The passive, wimpy opposite, would be the usual, “I’ll try, I hope I can, please help me to . .. .” half-hearted effort intended, which is basically meaningless, for it almost always amounts to nothing.

So that is why it is very useful, purposeful, and beneficial to employ active verbs in prayer. Now obviously, one cannot speak in that way about every single thing; it needs to be applicable, appropriate, and in line with that which is being addressed. However, there is no prayer at any time which would have no place for the use of active verbs. And when active verbs become a regular part of one’s prayer, that individual’s prayer life will assume a new, and vibrant dimension.

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