Why do we constantly get homilies and such about people who just say prayers but don’t live a Christian life apart from that?
I don’t know anybody who makes a serious effort to pray but then doesn’t make an effort to “live the Gospel” or “have a relationship with God”. If they weren’t interested in those things they would not be praying regularly. Of course they aren’t perfect - none of us are - I certainly am not. I can spend 3 hours praying and then within the next 8 hours get really annoyed with somebody and think and sometimes do all the things that annoyed people do. But that doesn’t mean I’m just “saying prayers” without meaning them.
There are likely a few people out there who are either very young or still spiritually immature who have the “vending machine” idea of God where you pray to get something and then if you get it you pray for something else you want, and if you don’t get it you lose faith and probably don’t bother praying any more, but these people don’t pray for very often or very long.
I repeatedly hear this stuff about people just repeating prayers or mumbling prayers or whatever from the Pope and now in the latest homily from Fr. Larry Richards that someone posted and from other sources too, and I am not getting it. I know sometimes Traditionalists take this as some sort of veiled condemnation of traditional prayer practice. I’m trying not to see it that way as I’m not looking for an excuse to bash the Pope, or bash Fr. Larry, or bash anyone, but I’m mystified why this idea that people are praying insincerely keeps on coming up. It sounds more like a homily topic from 1960s rooted in the idea that suburban parishioners were all prejudiced against poor people and people of color and didn’t care that we were killing children in Viet Nam and were just all smug and praying, and that kind of thinking led to the gradual dwindling of prayer (especially traditional as opposed to spontaenous prayer) over a couple of decades.
I should think that if someone is, shall we say, at a low stage of spiritual development, but they are saying prayers, it’s a start. Maybe challenge them to take it to the next level, but stop talking about prayer like it’s a bad thing.