“To Avoid the Too Frequent Repetition”

At Ricks College in 2000, during a speech on faith, an LDS leader explained:

“Out of reverence and respect for the name of the Savior and to avoid the too frequent repetition of His name, please keep in mind that as I now use the word “faith” I am referring to the more accurate and complete phrase of “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” (see Elder David A. Bednar, “According to thy Faith,” Ricks College Devotional, August 29, 2000, available in lds.org archives).

I’ve always been puzzled by this concept among Mormons–the too frequent repetition of His name. Is this a commandment, a practice, or something else? I know it’s a part of being reverent, but what does that exactly have to do with frequency? Writing perhaps where angels even fear to post, I will take a brief, and, I hope, respectful, look at this topic, trusting what I say won’t offend anyone but open the door to a useful dialogue.

Latter-day Saints, unlike their Christian cousins (to my knowledge), are known to use the terms Savior, Redeemer, Master, or Lord in the place of Jesus not out of any purely stylistic concerns about repetition, but out of theological concerns of the too frequent repetition of His name. This phrase comes from D&C 107: 3-4:

3 Before [Melchizedek's] day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.

4 But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Let’s unpack this passage. On its face, verse 4 is not a commandment to modern day church members, it is a mere explanation of an historical practice among ancient church members, or am I misreading this?

Now, there is ample evidence for an historical practice like this. At some point in Hebrew history, the very pronunciation of God’s name (YHWH in Hebrew) somehow became forbidden. Also called the Tetragrammaton (which means, straightforwardly enough, word with four letters in Greek) this name was replaced with the word Adonai (Lord) or some other circumlocution. Sometimes even the substitutes used for the Tetragrammaton were later viewed as too holy for common use. To this day, more orthodox Jews still hold these views. But why do Mormons? (See generally, “Names of God in the OT” and “Yahweh” in the Anchor Bible Dictionary).

And what of the term Supreme Being used in D&C 107:4? To me it seems to refer, not to Jesus, but to God. The closer you look at it, in fact, the term Supreme Being is not really an LDS theological term at all (although it shows up out of the blue in Alma 11: 22 as well, but no where else to my knowledge)–isn’t that strange? I’m not trying to be flippant (although I confess it is my nature to be so), but I can’t read the phrase Supreme Being without thinking of Sir Ralph David Richardson playing the part of a very perturbed God, dressed in a tweed suit, in search of a map of the universe stolen by dwarves in the movie “Time Bandits” where this is his actual title. Getting back on topic, Supreme Being seems to me to refer to God the Father rather than to God the Son. Isn’t the Father supreme and the Son at His right hand? What else could it mean? Is there some Dialogue or Ensign article I’ve simply missed over the years explaining all of this?

My question: how and when did this apparent non-directive phrase in D&C 107:4 become an LDS practice, perhaps even an injunction, to avoid too frequent repetition by using circumlocutions for Jesus? And, I guess the bottom line here is … just what is “too frequent”? Pick up the NT or BoM and flip to any page and it’s likely that the word Jesus will show up…well, at least often, if not frequently. And, could this understanding of D&C 107:4 inadvertently cause Latter-day Saints to avoid Jesus himself in some way?

Comments

  1. Regarding who the “Supreme Being” is, the phrase in question is “the Son of God,” which mentions the Son by mentioning the Father, so it could be either of them.

    One wonders how this avoidance of too frequent repetition fits in with the church’s policy of encouraging the use of “Jesus Christ” in other contexts. Adding his name to the title of the BoM, changing the church’s name from “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” to “The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints,” etc.

  2. I’d have to think about the way you ask this, but I wrote on this similarly here

  3. Ed,
    I always thought we avoided “Jesus” because that’s what Protestants say.

  4. Abner Doon says:

    You ask some good questions. I have one more to add. If the name of the priesthood was changed to avoid too frequent repetition of “The Son of God” – which is of course a title, not a name – how do we explain the constant insistence of modern leaders that the church be referred to by its full title, which actually DOES include the name of Jesus?

    I have observed that Mormons avoid using the name Jesus, especially without the title Christ. “The Savior” is what I hear most commonly, followed by “the Lord” or perhaps “Christ.” I think some of this comes from a desire to disassociate from those “other” Christians who are said to speak of Jesus in too-familiar terms. Mormons are also forbidden to pray or speak to Jesus directly. Is it any wonder people view Mormons as not having a “personal relationship” with him?

    Case in point: A Christian friend of mine was taking the discussions, and she asked the elders to please describe their relationship with Jesus Christ. I’ll admit this was putting them on the spot, but they are missionaries after all. And they clearly had nothing to say. They hemmed and hawed and looked in their scriptures for some sort of answer. That was a clear indication to her that this church did not offer greater closeness to the one she already believes to be the Son of God. In my experience, Mormons do seem to be quite estranged from Jesus, and I’m including myself in that statement. There may be lots of reasons why this is the case, but I do think the euphemistic avoidance of actually speaking about (or to) Jesus is a strong factor.

  5. Abner Doon says:

    Sorry about that, Wm Jas and Ronan. I didn’t see your comments before posting mine and ended up repeating some of your ideas.

  6. enochville says:

    One possible interpretation of the commandment to not take the Lord’s name in vain could be to not use it more than is necessary because His is the name by which we are saved, therefore it is sacred. Perhaps if we use His name too often we begin to think of it as commonplace and it looses its special, powerful status in our minds.

  7. Church of the Latter-day Saints it is then! Er…

  8. He could just as easily have said “Out of respect for my listeners, and to avoid speaking in a pompous and stilted style . . .” but it would already have been too late.

  9. Perhaps some of what we learn in the Temple has bearing on the overuse of the title “The Son of God.”
    The discussion of the use of “Jesus” in our meetings and lifestyle as compared with most protestants brought to mind an episode of the Simpsons where Ned Flanders is swtiching popular music to into Christian Music. He said “It’s easy! All you do is replace “Baby” with “Jesus” and it works out fine.

  10. Of course, in South America, there are quite a few people named “Jesus.” I wonder how they view all of this. Incidentally, Jesus itself was a common enough name in ancient Israel at the time.

    All this reminds me of somethng one of Hugh Nibley’s sons said at his Sunstone Roast a couple of years ago (where my fear as one of the speakers was I’d say something coincident with Nibley having a heart attack and then people would have blamed me, but he was actually too sick to attend himself).

    As best I can recall, Alex [?] said the most profound intellectual question he ever asked Hugh Nibley was something like, “Dad, if Jesus was an ancient Hebrew, then why did he have a Mexican name?”

  11. Bill #8, I was thinking the exact same thing.

  12. Perhaps Elder Bednar was simply avoiding frequent repetition for stylistic purposes. You or I would do the same. Or do we really notice an avoidance out of reverence to be churchwide?

    Mormons do seem to be quite estranged from Jesus

    Perhaps the Latter-day Saints are correct to direct their devotions to Heavenly Father and seek a “personal relationship” with him. Where do the scriptures instruct us to focus primarily on Jesus?

  13. Even before joining the church, I was turned off by those televangelists who drew out the first syllable of GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-zuss, usually while dipping or bending over and holding their wireless microphone pointing off to the side of their face parallel to the ground. Their suits would either be expensive Italian silk suits or cheesey polyester, no conservative middle. And their hair would either be a blow-dried high pompadour, or else slicked back with greasy stuff.

    His, the Savior’s, exaltation is so high above us fallen and carnal earthly creatures, that using his first name seems to assume a familiarity that would not be justified.

    I’ve noticed that we usually tend to use the single word “Jesus” only when referring to acts during his mortal ministry.

    Most often we use the title “Lord” to refer to the Savior, Jehovah. But sometimes we use “Lord” when addressing Heavenly Father. In the Kirtland temple dedicatory prayer, section 109, Joseph Smith seems to switch back and forth, between addressing Heavenly Father and the Savior, as in verses 4, 34, 47, and 56.

    I suppose a related issue is when should we be referring to Heavenly Father, when to the Savior, and when to the Holy Ghost ? The Holy Ghost often speaks in the name or place of the Savior. And in the Pearl of Great Price, Jehovah speaks in the name or place of Heavenly Father.I forget what the Brethren call it, but I think there’s a word for it.

    We pray to Heavenly Father, but it is usually the Holy Ghost who gives us the answer from the Savior.

  14. Ah, “Time Bandits.” Now THAT is a classic movie.

    I don’t think Mormons avoid saying the name “Jesus.” We say it at the end of every prayer, both in public and in private. It’s in virtually every other ordinance, with the exception of baptism and the sealing, where He is referred to as “the Son”. It’s in every priesthood blessing and setting apart. It is in both sacrament prayers, which means at a minimum the word “Jesus” will be utterred 4 times in a sacrament meeting, and likely many more times, depending on the topic of the speakers. We are encouraged to say it when we say the name of our Church. Missionaries who go tracting could literally say the words “Jesus Christ” hundreds of time per day as they introduce themselves and the church they represent. I know I did on my mission.

  15. enochville says:

    Anon:

    I think you are referring to divine right of investiture.

  16. This is sort of along the lines of Anon’s comment in #13.

    I don’t ever recall anyone ever actually articulating this directly in an ecclesiastical context, but I nonetheless somehow grew up with the impression that saying “Jesus” too much or too casually made people (evangelicals, televengelists) sound, to put it bluntly, like kissups. And I somehow developed an image in my head of God and Jesus finding this overly familiar and offputting. And frankly, I can’t seem to shake this idea. That isn’t to say I don’t sometimes feel very close to God, or sense that I have a personal relationship with him, but even when I experience that feeling in its most profound way, it never makes me feel like Jesus is my “buddy.”

    Also, I think theres a certain aspect of Mormonism that compels us to think that Jesus wants to see us walking the walk more than he wants to see us talk the talk, so we have a sense of seeking to go about His business without constantly trying to vocally draw his attention to it.

  17. Mormons do seem to be quite estranged from Jesus
    You know it’s funny. My wife and I were talking about this the other day. I think the whole estrangement with Jesus began with a talk given by Bruce R. McConkie at BYU, where he basically said we are NOT to have a personal relationship with Christ. Basically he was going after some BYU professor and a book he recently published called “What it means to have a personal relationship with Christ.” This guy was getting a following like we see with Stephen E. Robinson, but Bruce didn’t like that. He said the idea that a person could have personal relationship with Christ was “pure secretartian non-sense”.Now every anti-Mormon website has this talk included to show that Mormons are not Christians. Thanks Bruce.Of course this “secretarian non-sense” was espoused in general conference talk given by James E. Faust a few years earlier. The title? “A personal relationship with the Savior” There have been other general conference talks given saying we should foster a persoanl relationship with Christ. My bishop told me I should. My mission president said I should and that we should encourage our investigators to do the same. So whose right? BRM or the rest of the Chruch? I’ve read in some places that BRM was taken to the carpet by the First Presidency for that talk. Perhaps that’s why we see so many Christ centered talks by BRM after that event. I don’t know. Just speculation.
    But the damage has been done. BRM has left his theological print on the church just like he did with HIS Mormon Doctrine.I just want to be on the record saying that I have a personal relationship with the Savior.

  18. Otto, have you ever heard an evangelical pray? I mean, really pray? Because saying “Jesus” every fifth word stops sounding overly familiar and starts sounding beautifully intimate. It’s a massive difference from the standard, (possibly) sincere but always rushed-through prayers of most LDS meetings.

    There is something about using “Jesus” too many times in a sermon that is fundamentally different from doing the same in prayer. I find that the better evangelical pastors avoid this.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is “let’s not bash the protestants.”

  19. Because saying “Jesus” every fifth word stops sounding overly familiar and starts sounding beautifully intimate

    Amen, brother man.

  20. Some might find it strange, but Christian rock turns me off. Maybe it shouldn’t, but it just does–probably for reasons expressed in this thread.

    BTW, have you ever heard Christian death metal? I would describe it as…interesting.

  21. What do you all think of these passages from the BoM?

    “I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.” (2 Ne 33:6)

    “Oh blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell!” (Alma 19:29)

    This is not typical for the BoM, which usually prefers the entire phrase Jesus Christ which is a confessional term meaning, of course, Jesus the annointed one (although I heard someone say once in gospel doctrine that this was his name, as if he had a first and last name, as if his father’s name had been Joseph Christ and mother’s name had been Mary Christ). But I find nothing objectionable to it. And I agree with the comments about sincere Protestant prayers. Insincere prayers all sound the same even if different theological terms and customs are used; sincere prayers sound completely different (with a nod to Tolstoy hoping he might even agree with that one).

  22. #31. The more individual the feeling transmitted the more strongly does it act on the receiver; the more individual the state of soul into which he is transferred, the more pleasure does the receiver obtain, and therefore the more readily and strongly does he join in it.

    #33. But most of all is the degree of infectiousness of art increased by the degree of sincerity in the artist. As soon as the spectator, hearer, or reader feels that the artist is infected by his own production, and writes, sings, or plays for himself, and not merely to act on others, this mental condition of the artist infects the receiver; and contrariwise, as soon as the spectator, reader, or hearer feels that the author is not writing, singing, or playing for his own satisfaction – does not himself feel what he wishes to express – but is doing it for him, the receiver, a resistance immediately springs up, and the most individual and the newest feelings and the cleverest technique not only fail to produce any infection but actually repel.

    #34. I have mentioned three conditions of contagiousness in art, but they may be all summed up into one, the last, sincerity, i.e., that the artist should be impelled by an inner need to express his feeling. That condition includes the first; for if the artist is sincere he will express the feeling as he experienced it. And as each man is different from everyone else, his feeling will be individual for everyone else; and the more individual it is – the more the artist has drawn it from the depths of his nature – the more sympathetic and sincere will it be. And this same sincerity will impel the artist to find a clear expression of the feeling which he wishes to transmit.

    Tolstoy – What is Art? Chapter 15

  23. Exactly. Thanks, Bill. So many prayers, especially LDS prayers, are simply people talking to themselves or talking to the people who are listening to them pray. So few prayers are really directed to God. In my experience, saying “Jesus” keeps a prayer focused on Him. (I’m not advocating praying to Jesus. The same holds true with saying “Father” or “God.”)

    What is it about saying “Jesus” over and over in other settings that becomes too casual? If I hadn’t ever seen it done, I would think that it would invite the Spirit. Instead, it feels slimy. Is it just the connotation to TV evangelism? I tend to think that there is a bigger reason, but I don’t know what it is.

  24. In addition to those scriptures Ed, what are we to think of these verses from Alma 34?

    Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;

    18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.
    19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.
    20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
    21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
    22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
    23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.
    24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
    25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
    26 But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
    27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.

    I was just reading these verses last week and I thought, “whoa, isn’t this saying we should pray to Jesus?? Verses 1-16 are talking about Jesus explicitly and then v. 27 reiterates the idea that it is Jesus we are to be “crying” to. There are many more verses about “crying unto the Lord.” Yte the church instructs us not to do so I have been puzzling over this…any ideas?

  25. Whoah — I wasn’t bashing Protestants or anybody else, or questioning anybody’s sincerity or devotion. Yes, Ariel, I’ve heard plenty of evangelicals “really pray.” I think it’s just as clumsy, and perhaps even a tiny bit patronizing, to say that “all evangelicals” pray beautifully and intimately as it is clumsy and a bit unfair to say that all Mormons pray dryly and absentmindedly.

    I have heard, for example, Mormons who converted from evangelical traditions pray using evangelical terminology or vocal cadences, and it did have a certain freshness to it, but I don’t think their sincerity was dependent on the more explicitly fervent language of evangelicism. Also, I’ve heard, on countless occasions, Mormons pray in a quiet, unassuming, pleading, reverent, sincere, and extremely poetic fashion, without saying “God” or “Jesus” save at the beginning or end.

    I think that frequent repitition of anything somewhat diminishes the impact or import of each individual utterance. And regardless of the sincerity of the overall gesture and intent of an instance of praying as a general act, there is a point at which invoking the name of God or Jesus does lose its impact and becomes punctuation. Frequent invocation of Jesus’s name, in and of itself, doesn’t seem “personal” to me at all, really. That is, if I’m speaking to a being that I really think is there in an ontologically present way–be it God, or a person on the other end of a telephone–I don’t have to say their name over and over again to demonstrate my conviction of their reality. This isn’t a diss on anybody; I’m just saying that, because of Mormonism’s ideas about God being embodied and thus in an ontologically shared state with man, our best prayers imagine Him very nearby, and assume a reverence towards Him similar to the reverence and deference we might show a highly respected (mortal) person. Imagining God in this way perhaps discourages too familiar or invocative addresses to God or Jesus, because we would probably never speak to a (mortal) person using frequent utterances of his/her name.

  26. I wasn’t trying to say that all Evangelicals pray well, and all Mormons pray poorly, although I can see that my post could be interpreted that way. I do find that, almost without exception, the Evangelicals I know are much better at actually praying ~to~ God than the Mormons I know. (Maybe it’s just the particular Evangelicals and Mormons that I interact with? I’m in Jell-O land.) I think that is partially a function of saying “Jesus” often. There is a line that can be crossed. (I generally put it at the maximum number of times I would use a friend’s name in conversation.) When I have seen that line crossed, my thought was that the irreverence of crossing the line was overshadowed by the person’s real focus on the object of their prayer.

    Along the same lines, I don’t really like evangelical wording or prayer phrases. There’s nothing about the form of their prayer that stands out to me, and I prefer the LDS prayer forms, but I find that this is overshadowed by their habit of speaking to God rather than for an audience. That can be done with either style of prayer, Evangelical or Mormon, but it seems easier to learn to do it consistently with the Evangelical forms because of their use of the word “Jesus.”

    I think of speaking to God as the foundation of prayer, and the KJV words and reverent language as icing that can be added once that foundation is solid. If we start out with our focus on the details, it’s hard to build the foundation. Evangelical prayer seems to be focused on the foundation. Obviously it’s better to have both, but when so many Mormons seem to have missed the point, I think it’s time to focus on the basics and bring the rest back later.

  27. I’ve always thought that the phrase, “To Avoid the Too Frequent Repetition” sounded like the beginning of some instructions you might find on the back of some kind of hygiene product.

  28. Katie, I think the fact of the matter may be that our doctrine concerning the Godhead isn’t really fully defined. I think praying to Jesus or God the Father is just fine. If we’re going to have a personal relationship with the Savior, we’ve got to talk with him, right?

  29. Anonymous Convert says:

    Mormons are also forbidden to pray or speak to Jesus directly.

    Huh? Please elaborate. I can’t recall reading that anywhere in the scriptures…

  30. If we’re going to have a personal relationship with the Savior, we’ve got to talk with him, right?

    That’s what my mission president said. He asked us, “Elders, how do you get to know your companion?” We responded “We talk to them.” He went on, “If we are to know Christ, how can we do that without talking to him?” He told us that in our prayers to God the Father, we could ask Him to put Jesus on the line if you will. I remember hearing it and was like “Huh?” I tried it and actually had a good experience with it. I still do it every once in awhile. I just thank him for his sacrifice and the attonement, and tell him that I’m trying best to glorify his name. I’m not sure what’s so bad about it. Some of our hymns are directed to Jesus. For example, “Rock of Ages”, “I need thee every hour”, “With Humble Heart”, “Jesus the very thought of me.” These are all directed at Jesus Himself. So, if the song of the righteous is a PRAYER, then Mormons have been praying to Jesus for a long time.

  31. In the areas I served in France the members adress the father every five words. And really, from an historical perspective, they are just continuing the trend we are on. I am working on a study of this right now, but the preliminary data show that in the mid nineteenth century only 20% of public discourses were closed in the the name of Jesus Christ. Of the few prayers that were recorded that I have seen, about half were closed in the name of Jesus.

  32. I’ve gotten a lot out of the comments–thanks, and don’t stop on my account.

    I believe the desire to connect with the Divine pervades most of humanity, even Levi Peterson himself, our own “Christian by Yearning.” This yearning, whether voiced or not, whether spoken using the name of God, Jesus, or “the unknown God” Paul used as an attention-grabber on Mars Hill or using the name of the Samaritan God worshipped by the woman at the well–all of these, if sincere, must be heard by, to borrow from D&C 107, the Supreme Being.

    I recall once being asked to give a prayer in church, the second councilor whispering to me, “I like asking you because you know your thees and thous.” I wish now, looking back, I had NOT used them on that occasion. That would have been a “startling deed,” a term used by Josephus about Jesus himself (a post on Josephus and the Historical Jesus is underway), something that might have made an effective point. How old English pronouns and verb conjugations (which aren’t easy) make a prayer more effective, I don’t understand. Perhaps it is analogous to the principle I learned from a Van Morrison song: “if you must keep talking, please can you make it rhyme?”

    BTW, I just saw that Levi Peterson’s autobiography A Rascal by Nature, A Christian by Yearning is hot off the press. Can’t wait to read it.

  33. Ed, I go out of my way to say “Jesus” around Mormons. I also go out of my way to say “Mormons” around Mormons.

    Ariel (#26) — AMEN!

  34. and I prefer the LDS prayer forms, but I find that this is overshadowed by their habit of speaking to God rather than for an audience

    Those of you that served missions, did you all notice when there was a GA present or even the mission president, that prayers by missionaries got super eloquent and lasted five minutes? It cracked my up to here 19 year old kids using all this flowery speech. I remember thinking when an Elder prayed like this “This guy isn’t praying to God, he’s praying to the General Authority.” Prayers without leaders were pretty low key and more sincere.

  35. Elder Bednar’s reasoning sounds nice, but he failed to mention the plain old convenience of his move in regard to public speaking. If your talk is based around a certain term, it’s not uncommon to define it and then assume you can use the term rather than definition throughout the rest of your discourse. But that kind of reasoning has no eloquence…

    And after reading the original post followed by all the comments, I’m getting this Mormon vibe that “Jesus” is somehow higher on the list than “Christ,” “Jesus Christ,” or “God,” in terms of necessity to avoid. The Mormonism I grew up in had these all pinned in the same category. But I think that if “too frequent repetition” is a real problem within the Church, then perhaps, you’d think the Church wouldn’t blatantly promote it. I mean, can you think of any other term(s) that get(s) repeated more? Maybe “opportunity?”

    J. Stapley, have I asked you this before, what part of France?

  36. Spent most my time in Northern France (Calais, Cambrai, Amiens, etc.)…It was la mission Belge. I then went back and worked for Nestle for a summer.

  37. Steve McIntyre says:

    Just a thought, but perhaps one of the reasons for which some of us are “estranged from Jesus” is our emphasis (perhaps overemphasis) on personal works.

    We don’t talk of grace much in our Church. In any given testimony meeting, I can’t help but take note of how many times people talk about how bad and unworthy they are. Don’t get me wrong–there are many beautiful, Christ-centered testimonies–but sometimes I think the “be ye therefore perfect” thing gets to us. Many of us (myself included) sometimes focus so much on perfecting ourselves that we almost forget that the way to perfection is only through Christ. As Moroni puts it, we are to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32).

    We aren’t supposed to be perfect in this life. If we lived as long as Methusaleh, we’d still be imperfect on our deathbeds. We don’t save ourselves. No matter how righteous we are, we still won’t deserve salvation. We are literally saved by the grace of Christ. I recognize that there are conditions, but it’s Christ that saves and perfects us. We won’t get their on our own merits.

    But we don’t talk about grace very often, perhaps because we think it sounds “too Protestant.” If it were more frequently and openly discussed, maybe some of our focus and concern would shift from perfecting ourselves to thanking Jesus.

    Just some thoughts.

  38. Steve, I completely agree with you. I think what’s missing is love or mercy. We’re so zoned on works that we don’t want to mess up and we don’t realize how much God loves us.

    One thing I find annoying, and a lot of people do, is say, “Heavenly Father” constantly in their prayers. It’s just a little annoying, not a big deal, and I know it reflects their love of God, but when they begin every sentence in their prayer with it, it’s a little annoying. Although that could be me, because one of the men I respect most in the world does it, so I’m probably in the wrong.

  39. I was talking to my roomate about the same issues in #38 this afternoon. She thought that maybe there was a push in past generations to stop talking about grace so much and put the emphasis on works, so that we wouldn’t sound like the protestants. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

  40. Sorry, that should have been #37.

  41. I 3rd Steve.

    I don’t think the “to avoid the too frequent repetition of [God's] name means we’re supposed to not say Jesus’ name. I think it depends on the context of giving an adjective to the order of priesthood being referred to. God didn’t want The Son of God’s name being used merely as an adjective. Think about it. If we said ‘SonofGod’s Priesthood’ as often as we say ‘Melchizidek Priesthood’, especially when we’re talking about who goes to some training meeting or something, it’d become very pedestrian. But when we’re saying Jesus’ name as a NAME and as an object (linguistically speaking) of our worship, then it doesn’t get linguistically demoted as it would if we adjectivized it.

  42. (and religiously speaking)….

  43. annegb, I almost exclusively say “God” vs. “Lord” or “heavenly father.” In fact, I like praying to “God,” all the time. Nothing throws off fellow Mormons more than starting a prayer with “Dear God.” Protestant prayers are totally cool.

    Ariel — indeed, salvation from grace seems to be a sore spot for Mormons. Salvation by grace really is fundamental even to the Mormon concept of salvation, if one examines it closely, IMO. In the end, God forgives because he’s graceful. I hear of salvation by grace a lot (I work with Prots), and I like the idea. There’s no other way for God to save a sinful bastard like myself, really. But I think we’ve worked our way away from it because it is the flagship doctrine of evangelicals, who tend to distrust us. I’ve also contemplated what other things we champion in reaction to Protestantism; e.g. no crosses, works vs. faith, etc. etc.

  44. I have few objections to the way anyone I know prays or speaks in a relgious service; the only thing that gets me annoyed is five-to-fifteen-adjective titles (“our dear, kind, generous, and most beneificiently excellent heavenly…”) I always feel that if someone spoke that way to me, I’d roll my eyes and say “get on with it…”

    Though the constant use of “Jesus” in some public events does feel weird to me, I think that’s because I grew up LDS and Unitarian Universalist though, and not because they or I have a weird or inappropriate relationship with the Savior (see, look, I did it now, just out of habit…)

  45. Oh, my God, slips out of me occasionally. I remember watching an interview with Meryl Streep and this guy asked her what was her worst cuss word and she said, “I say Oh My God a lot and I feel guilty about it.” I was surprised it bothered her.

    Sarah, what you’re saying also bothers me. It speaks of phony piety. And yet, often, the people who do that are not phony at all, but some of the most spiritually honest people I know, so it’s judgemental of me.

    We say “the Lord” here a lot. Like, “let’s ask the Lord” or the like.

    My monk friend taught me a prayer, “Jesus, thou son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I say that over and over in my darkest moments. I feel that God loves us, a relatively new belief for me, but I’ve always felt that Jesus loves us and that He is on our side, no matter what we do. Because He alone (not counting God) truly understands my feelings and motives. I don’t feel guilty about the repetition, either.

  46. For what it is worth, I have noticed in the last couple of weeks that about half of prayers and talks offered in our ward and stake, including those offered by ward and stake leaders, closed “in Jesus’ name”.

  47. I dare someone to end their prayer in “for Christ’s sake.”

  48. David J says, “Nothing throws off fellow Mormons more than starting a prayer with ‘Dear God.'”

    How would you know this? Presumably you’re too busy praying to watch for telltale body language.

  49. Yeah, I remember as a kid pointing out to my parents that my sister had her eyes open during the prayer… They never seemed to be on my side with that one.

  50. Same subject, different topic. Teeny boppers love to say “god” twice in every sentence. When I finally get tired of it I mention “He isn’t here right now.” They look at me strangly and ask who isn’t here? I answer “God”. Their language improves greatly from that point on.

    Bob, my wife asks if your wife’s name is Moira (formerly Martha June Connelly).

  51. David S,

    No such luck. My wife’s name is Evelina. But I’m always intrigued by an almost coincidence. I’d love to know your wife’s potential connection to me (no really, I almost was going to say, “Yeah! That’s my wife!”)

  52. Bob C.

    My new wife had a friend in Washington Stete who with her husband Bob Caswell moved away. She was hoping to renew that friendship.

  53. Well, my wife and I would love to help out (who knows? maybe there’s something in the name and we could all be good friends), but we’re in Utah and will soon be moving to Indiana.

  54. Interesting, I just left Indiana (Anderson and New Castle) a year ago. Daughter and family are in Indianapolis, Son in bishopric in Anderson, xwife in Noblesville. You will miss the mountains lol.

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