Amy Cannon writes about something I've been thinking about lately - our language for God is too mundane. Now, let me say right away that it's a good thing to approach God on our human level. He comes to us in Jesus as a human. He understands our weaknesses. There is a time for expressing ourselves to God very simply. But I think for most Christians, we have no vocabulary to speak to God or about God in a vocabulary that captures His grandeur - or our need for Him that stretches us.
I've been spending a number of months reading and praying in the Psalms, and it's influenced the way I express myself in prayer. The Bible addresses God and speaks about God in a vocabulary that is lofty, very different from the way we normally express ourselves. And the Bible speaks of our need and our sin in a very deep way that just isn't captured by our everyday vocabulary. I recently read Psalm 51 at the beginning of an STR staff meeting, and one person made the observation that we don't hear language like that in church anymore. And that, I think, is too bad. Thank God we can come to Him just as we are and speak to Him in a common way. He accepts that. But I think it's good for our souls to, at times, reach up to Him in language that stretches our categories, giving us a grander view of God and a deeper sense of our need for Him.
Here's what Cannon says:
It really is a different thing to say “God cares!” than to say “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” With the soaring adulation of the Davidic Psalms, the theological nuance and resounding rhetorical height of the Pauline Epistles (the beginning of Ephesians 1 and Philippians 2 are striking examples), in Mary’s Magnificat and God’s transcendent promises to Abraham, the language of the Bible evokes true things about our relationship with God - truths about his overawing excellence, because of which our brothers have taken off their shoes, fallen on their faces, bemoaned their uncleanliness, been consumed by fire, or glowed for days after.
Even in translation, the word of God is often a word of grandeur or magnificence - something foreign to an Evangelical vocabulary. We lose much of what is being said or taking place in Scripture when we unyeildingly collapsed it into conversational prose. I worry that our confident casualness of speech prevents our recognizing the grandness of God by practicing grandness in the language about Him - a grandness modeled for us in Scripture.