Lately I've been considering things that Christians say that, in my opinion, fall under the category of "Christianese". You know, that stuff that only religious people say and only they know what they are talking about. More and more these kinds of things get on my nerves. It's become so prevalent, that it is expected in Christian circles. Even worse, it seems to add credibility to the speaker when one uses such a turn of words or a phrase. As if using such an arcane dialect somehow makes one more pious or "spiritual" and that certain words grant you an unearthly aura that can only be attained through careful study.
What should be obvious, is that there is a major downside to this kind of speech, and that is that it alienates those who don't speak it! Rather than conveying a clear message of what we are saying, we confuse the listener. At best, the person can guess at your meaning, but at worst, they can be turned off by your rhetoric. Some phrases are worse than others, and I have a few favorites.
The latest one that is bothering me is the term "intercessory prayer". This term has become rather popular lately in Pentecostal circles, spawning new meetings, clubs, and even conferences. It's a freakin' movement. I'm all for prayer, but I wish they'd stop calling it that name. Again, it's a gimmick that seems to add greater meaning or weight by adding the two words together, when in fact, it is no more special than just "prayer". The users of this phrase are trying to create a distinction between intercessory prayer and vanilla prayer, as if the former is somehow more credible or powerful. In my opinion, the phrase is redundant. "Intercession" is the act of pleading with one person on another person's behalf. Isn't that what prayer is? The act of going before God and asking for his favor on someone's behalf? Even if that person is yourself? Somehow, this phrase implies that there are other kinds of prayer. If there are kinds of prayer that don't involve some type of intercession, then what does that look like?
It might seem to you I'm picking at semantics, and I'll admit I am somewhat. This is actually one of the lesser offenders. Perhaps I'll talk more soon about some of the more egregious examples.