Interesting series, Mark. Funny side story. My brother in law was the chaplain in his high school in the early 1990s. He was elected after a farcical Ferris Bueller style campaign.
At the first football game, he wanted to avoid the Jesus problem. And the God problem in general. And he was snarky. So he prayed, “O Righteous Being…” but the PA system garbled the last word and everyone heard “O Righteous Beast…”
I think that was the end of his chaplaincy.
I’m reminded of times when people’s well-intentioned prayers didn’t come out quite right.
This commonly happened when I was on the staff of Hollywood Presbyterian Church. Lloyd Ogilvie, who later became chaplain of the U.S. Senate, was our senior pastor. About once every few months somebody in a staff or elders meeting would open in prayer by saying, unintentionally, “Dear Lloyd . . . .” (Photo: The First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood)
Then there was the time when one of our associate pastors messed up a pastoral prayer in worship. He said, “O God, we lift you up to our needs.”
But my all time favorite is quite a bit like Mark Goodyear’s story. A friend of mine led in prayer each week for our college group. He would usually open by saying, simply, “Dear Father.” Sometimes he would begin by addressing God as “Master.” Yet one week he seemed to be thinking two things at once. Beginning with “Dear Father,” he switched midstream to “Master.” But what he said, plainly and clearly, was “Dear Fat Master.” No kidding! Of course the whole group began to laugh. But this poor young man kept on praying to his “Fat Master” as if nothing had happened.
Note to self: If you ever do anything like this, stop. Laugh at yourself. And then try to get back to prayer. God probably is having a good laugh too.