OK, I want to preface this question with the assurance that I am not at all trying to be disrespectful. I want to understand from those who know the Catholic faith better than I why I see this.

I’ve noticed that if someone asks for prayer about something that the thread fills up with “Hail Mary’s,” “Our Father’s,” and other what I see as “rote” prayers. Sometimes I see people who will say a prayer a few times and then tell the other posters that if they pray this so many times their petition will come true.

Will you all help me understand this? Again, no disrespect intended.

Thanks! And God Bless,


If we are asked to repeat a prayer a specific number of times it is for the purpose of helping us meditate on the words. There is nothing magical about it and if someone told me that if I pray 15 Hail Mary’s my petition will come true I would tell them they are committing the sin of superstition.

When I am asked to pray for someone, I pray specifically for their intention, in my own words. But there is also much value in praying the rosary, for instance, for the intentions of another, and I do that as well. That does have a specific number of prayers but that is not where the power lies. It is a meditation on the life of Christ. The number of prayers allow us the time to truly meditate.



You are Lutheran. Do you not rattle off “rote prayers” like the Our Father every time you attend a Lutheran service.

ROTE PRAYER [rōt pre(ə)r, noun] A prayer which has been memorized.

A lot of Protestants look down on rote prayers. The thinking is if you recite your prayers from memory, you don’t actually mean them: You’re parroting empty words to God, and they don’t count.

And that’s exactly right. If you don’t mean them.

When you do mean them, that’s another thing altogether. When we recite the Lord’s Prayer, and mean it—when we meditate on it, make Jesus’s words our own, and want God’s will to be done when we recite “Your will be done”—rote prayers are extremely powerful.

You see, we don’t always know what to pray. Though prayer is simply talking with God, for a lot of Christians there’s nothing simple about it. We get tongue-tied. We stumble. We don’t know how far we can go with our requests. We don’t know how far we can go with our praise. We struggle to share our feelings, our innermost thoughts, with everyone, and God is no exception. We fumble at prayer. Then we feel bad about it, and and don’t do it, and avoid God. And we shouldn’t. We need to pray.

That’s where rote prayer comes in.

It is okay to take someone else’s prayers, and pray them. It’s not plagiarism. God is fully aware you didn’t write it. But if it expresses how you feel, or if it says the sort of things you want to say to God, it’s totally fine with him if that’s what you pray. And totally fine with your fellow Christians: We have a long, long history of rote prayers. The Psalms are rote prayers, you know.

See more here

We do say the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday but that is the only one in our service. I was asking (respectfully again) why I saw on here -maybe I didn’t clarify that - someone ask for prayer and there would be a lot of prayers like the Hail Mary or Our Father in answer to that person’s request.

All I want is to find out why to learn not to put anyone down.



Thanks, Steve!

Thanks for your answer!! It made me understand in a different way and that’s what I was looking for…again no disrespect intended. As “Q” stated we do say the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday but as an outsider, I didn’t understand why Catholics would hold someone up in prayer using the Hail Mary or another prayer.

I agree. God knows exactly why you’re praying because He does tell us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Thank God for that, eh?

Thanks for helping me understand better.



This is an absolutely beautiful prayer!! I am a member of the LCMS but I’ve spent my time with many Evangelicals over the years…I’ve always been one to seek God in many groups and fellowships as well as wanting and needing to learn about others. I absolutely hated the group prayers where we held each other’s hands and were expected to pray in front of others. As I grew old I became less timid and did pray but was very uncomfortable with it.

Jesus does tell us in Matthew, “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

Thank you for sharing.

In Christ,


When we say the Lord’s Prayer, we are following the instructions of the Lord, “Thus therefore shall you pray.” When people say the Lord’s Prayer (Catholics more commonly call it the “Our Father” in my experience) they do not mean to suggest that this is the only way to pray, but at the very least I don’t think we can pray any better than the Lord himself did. In the Hail Mary, we bless Mary and Jesus, and ask for her protection, “now and at the hour of our death.” It is similar to the Lord’s Prayer in the sense that it was not merlely devised by humans, but was revealed to us by God in Scripture. So again, I don’t mean to say that we cannot say other prayers, memorized or extemporaneous, but these two prayers belong to the highest order of prayers and are applicable in all situations.

Thanks, Q! I agree, when we’re given the Lord’s Prayer what better example can we be given? I understand what you say about the Hail Mary but as I’m not quite there in my journey (not sure I’ll ever be) I cannot add that to my repertoire.

As Reuben mentioned the Psalms are prayers as well. We have a rich treasure of prayer for us right there in our Bible!



If one is just saying the words of a rote pray, all the time thinking of what they are going to do latter, then they have not prayed at all. Jesus gave us a rote pray the Our Father. He also prayed using the same words in the garden in [Mt26:44 And **he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.]

When I pray the Our Father or Hail Mary, in my heart or spirit, I am mentally offering up different intentions while saying the words of the prayer. If I am at a rest home and pray using the Our Father my mind focuses on the needs of the person not on the words I say. Using a “rote” prayer frees the mind or heart to focus on petitions, not heard by others or said to impress, but known only to you and God. It’s metaphorically going into a closet to pray secretly which God alone hears.

[Mt6:66 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.]

Praying extemporaneouly is very good unless one gets caught up in pride and mutiplies words just to impress or flater others. That would be a vain and reptiteous prayer. I use both, extemporaneous and rote, depending of the situation.

Thanks for this, Reuben. Great explanation.

Rita, just curious, do you pray before meals and if so do you use a rote prayer? I think this is one of those situations where rote prayer really helps us. If we had to come up with an extemporaneous prayer at every meal, every day of our lives, I think most of us would probably just stop praying.



Pretty much, Steve…The standard Lutheran one is Come Lord Jesus be our Guest and let these gifts to us be blessed.

If I’m by myself it’s a quick thank you with maybe other things depending on what’s going on that day.

My prayer life is really more an intricate part of my daily life…meaning I talk out loud to Him as I do whatever I’m doing. Being a single woman I have that luxury.

I understand what you’re saying, Steve. It’s another of those things that having done something for almost 60 years of my life I have to stop and consider what someone else is doing and why they do it.

You’ve all gave me some great info and I appreciate it a lot!

God bless!


Well, I’m married and I still talk out loud to God (especially in the shower) and my wife thinks I’m slowly loosing it. lol!

LOL :thumbsup:

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