"Catholics say the same prayer over and over again!"


I just had a conversation with a Jehovah Witness, and she said that "Catholics say the same prayer over and over again and the bible says not to do that!"
She reads the King James bible and said this verse…
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7: But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

So I replied that I read the Douay rheims bible and it states…

"And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard. Be not you therefore like to them for your Father knoweth what is needful for you, before you ask him. Thus therefore shall you pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
I pointed out the origins of my bible and she said “it says the same thing just worded differently!”

I do not see how that is the same at all! not even slightly!
How ould you reply to this?


I would simply reply saying that Jesus taught us the Our Father. Should we not pray as Jesus taught us, since it means repitition?


She said later on that she meant the Rosary, and she thought that we worship the beads. :smiley:
I’m 16, and she is too…


There are three main things here:

  1. The Bible says the heathens are praying using many words so their gods would hear them. We don’t say the Hail Mary or Our Father over and over to ensure Jesus will hear us, it’s a form of meditation (in the case of the Rosary) or:

  2. It’s the equivalent of saying “I love you” again and again. I imagine this JW tells their mother/father/husband/boyfriend/siblings that she loves them more than once. Why does she use the same words “I love you” again and again, it says right there in The BIble that this is vain after the first time.

  3. Jesus himself prayed three times for “This cup to pass from me, but thy will be done” (paraphrased) during the Agony in the Garden. Obviously if Jesus repeats the same prayer again and again, it isn’t sinful to do so.

BTW, I’m not sure of this but I THOUGHT I’d heard that the ‘heathen vain repititions’ were more nonsensical babbling, sort of like the Tongues practiced by some Charismatic Christians. Does anyone else know where I might have picked that up?


Of course she’s dead wrong.

Have her look up these passages of the Gospels on His agony in the garden?

Matthew 26:36-45, Mark 14:32-41, and Luke 22:39-46

Was Our Lord wrong to pray the same prayer more than once there?

Good article: Is Jesus against Catholic Prayers?


This is the note on the text found in the NAB:

The example of what Christian prayer should be like contrasts it now not with the prayer of the hypocrites but with that of the pagans. Their babbling probably means their reciting a long list of divine names, hoping that one of them will force a response from the deity.



Thanks a lot guys! I’ll give her this informationt tomorrow.
Man it really stinks when the majority of the girls in your life aren’t catholic :smiley:




:slight_smile: Yeah it is…:shrug:


This is the note on the text found in the NAB:

The example of what Christian prayer should be like contrasts it now not with the prayer of the hypocrites but with that of the pagans. Their babbling probably means their reciting a long list of divine names, hoping that one of them will force a response from the deity.


Thanks! That’s probably what I was thinking of.

Man it really stinks when the majority of the girls in your life aren’t catholic :smiley:

Preachin’ to the choir buddy. :o


I did recently find a girl who loves god yet knows nothing about any religion and wants to learn… I believe that I can sway her ^-^

I recently got my friend to convert from budhism to catholicism.
It only took… two years. :smiley:

He’s making his baptism and confirmation this easter.


Both translations are correct, and both condemn vain repetition. The key word is VAIN.

Tell them this. Jesus prayed the EXACT SAME PRAYER three times before he died.

How many times does the same prayer have to be repeated before it becomes wrong?

Clearly, by Jesus’ own example, repeated prayer it in itself is fine. It’s VAIN repetition that’s condemned.


The Bible in several places exhorts us to pray constantly. If your JW friend has thought of a way to pray constantly**without **repeating herself, she’s the greatest genius on earth.


Remember in the Bible, the prayer that is prayed day and night, over and over again: "And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” Prayer is not vain repetition if it is not said in vain. In other words, you can pray the Our Father again and again, or say “I love you, Jesus” over and over, and it’s wonderful worship… as long as you mean it. As for the rosary (not worship of Mary!), each ‘prayer’ is a salutation & a petition (the mysteries are the meditation where we worship God with our love)- and during this entire time our hearts must be likewise involved. The problem is when the prayers are vain… spoken with the mouth but not the heart. When I was little, my mother took me to Assemblies of God services. They would sing in worship over and over, “We exalt thee”. And it was good, because it was from the heart. Had it not been from the heart, not only would it have been a near waste of time, it would have been vain repetition. So in order for someone to say Catholics pray in vain repetition, they would have to know & analyze our hearts.


It is wiser to simply refute her errors with her own translation. The admonition by Jesus is to pray - not out in the open like the Pharisees do on the street corners to draw attention to themselves - but in the silence of your heart. That is the primary context of the verses. In addition, Jesus uses this discussion to discuss another form of prayer abuse: that of the heathen, or pagans. They relied not on the sincerity of their prayer but on the mere volume of prayer. Christ described this as “vain repetition”.
He did not condemn repeating oneself, he condemned being vain in prayer. Come to think of it, isnt it a commandment not to take the Lords name in VAIN? It seems like a corollary to not taking the Lords name in vain - dont pray vainly either.


to the OP, I have heard the best way to defend the quote the Jehovah’s Witness gave you would be to call attention to the word, “vain”. The scripture doesn’t tell us not to repeat ourselves, but that we shouldn’t be vain in our repititions. I have heard this defended as the people the scripture is making an example of would go stand on street corners, for all to see, and repeat a phrase or prayer ad nauseum, to “show” others how holy they were. The scriptures are calling our attention to the fact that we shouldn’t pray to brag, but pray in worship of Our Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So, in short, we aren’t told not to repeat ourselves, but not to be vain about our prayers.

I can’t rightly recall right now, I will try to look it up, but there is a reading I believe I heard in mass last weekend, or the one before, about the friend who bothers his neighbor for three loaves of bread, and the parable speaks of the neighbor giving his friend the loaves because he doesn’t cease asking until he recieves it. This encourages us to pray constantly, and yes, repetitiously, and not give up even though we don’t initially receive the answer we desire.

Edit: I checked on EWTN for the last couple weekends readings, and found the one I was referring to was the Gospel of Luke from July 29th, Luke 11:1-13, where Jesus is teaching the disciples how to pray, and tells them the parable of the friend going to his neghbor for the loaves of bread.

Luke 11:8. Yet if he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him because he is his friend; yet, because of his importunity, he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.


Be a good Catholic guy and some of those sweet Protestant girls might take notice of your spirituality and love for your faith and want that for themselves. It’s true, that’s what caught my attention :yup:. Now I’m in RCIA (and not dating mr. wonderful anymore but still, the Catholic part did stick:p )! Kinda funny how God can grab your attention when you least expect it.


Vain repetition and repetition are two different things. One goes nowhere and the other does. Jesus prayed the same prayer over and over in the Garden. Each time he found the apostles asleep, scolded them, then he went back and repeated.

In Christ!


The key word is “vain”. Repetition does not invalidate a prayer or cause it to be vain. Vanity is a condition of the heart and mind rather than the liturgy/prayer. I can’t count how many times I’ve prayed for the health and safety of my children - does it make it vain? On the contrary. Likewise, if I say, “Thank you, Jesus” several times, does it become meaningless after the first time? The answer is a resounding “NO”. It only reiterates my continuing gratitude for His continuing Grace in my life.

The “vain repetitions” argument is so very weak as it is clear that Jesus was directing this statement at the hypocrites who would simply say the words without meaning because they were more concerned with the outward “appearances” of their human vessels rather than their content. That is vanity.

On a side note, my wife hardly thinks it vain when I tell her daily that I love her. Rather, it’s a confirmation of the covenant of our marriage.



Notice that the scripture also references the heathens. “And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens.” This is important in a historical context… something many people do not consider. There were pagans who prayed to their gods with many words over and over because they thought if they used more words, the gods would hear them. This was the epitome of vain repetitive prayer. Their gods wouldn’t hear anything, because, of course, their gods don’t exist. It doesn’t get anymore vain than that!

Jesus, on the other hand, told us to pray the “Our Father”. He gave us the words to use, are we only supposed to pray them once? No, He told us to pray with these words. Furthermore, tell your friend to read the account of Jesus in Gethsemane… He prayed repetitively, but not in vain. (Mt 26:44)

Another example of repetitive prayer is Revelation 4:8–where prayers are repeated day and night “Holy, Holy, Holy …” It is repetitive, but not vain.

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