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Question: Explain Matthew 6: 7.


And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.


Answer: Jesus here finds fault with those prayers in which the perceived value is primarily ritualistic and devoid of sincerity. As Gentile languages sounded like meaningless babble or stutter to the ears of a Jew, so empty appeals sound to God.


This does not mean that complex, formal, or even repetitive prayer is necessarily improper or would be unacceptable to the Heavenly Father. It is not the form which is in view, but the nature of the prayer. Private prayer ought to be a response of the believerís heart; how it is expressed is secondary. It is not in itself intended to fulfil a meritorious obligation. And, as with so many things in life, rote prayer can become dull and monotonous, even for the most sincere, and itís probably a good idea to vary oneís approach in this regard.


Jesus follows on with His Ďmodelí prayer, the Lordís Prayer of verses 9-13, which exemplifies the basic elements we may well touch on in our own, such as reverence for God and His exalted nature; a grateful acknowledgement of His power and providence in our life; our recognition of the sacrifice of His Son and our resulting forgiveness and justification by faith; and the expression of our continued trust in Him and His plans for the future.


Whether one chooses in private to reiterate the Lordís Prayer on a regular basis is a matter of personal preference. There is, however, something to be said for repetition in a formal religious setting; in fact, some repetition is unavoidable under such circumstances. Most churches have some form of oft-repeated declaration of faith or devotion, intended to foster community spirit. Many churches and schools throughout the land say the Lordís Prayer in unison on a regular basis. Indeed, this is the means by which generations of Britons learned this prayer (and many hymns) in the first place. But as a general rule we do well to avoid a formula from which our mind and heart is disengaged.




Copyright August 2010 by

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