[quote=k5thbeatle] Sorry that’s not an exact quote from the gospel but a friend always uses this one against me for praying the rosary and I never know exactly how to answer except that that is not what they meant.
His point is that praying the rosary and other “catholic” prayers are just that…repeating words and such which he claims is what is referred to in the gospel quote (not the exact quote, I botched it a bit) and I know he is not correct in his interpretation but I could use a little help in giving him a better answer.
He’s referring to Matthew 6:7–“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” You seem to be saying that Jesus is not speaking about what you do with the rosary, but you don’t have an answer for him. I would ask that you consider the possibility that you should not make your mind up about this before you have a reason to believe it. A belief without a reason is an unreasonable belief. One answer given is this:
[quote=Wolseley] Jesus is referring to pagan who are praying to idols; the idols, of course, cannot hear the prayers, and therefore, the prayers are “vain repititions”.
But this is not the sense in which the Lord spoke. He did not say, “And when you pray, do not pray to idols as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard by their idols.” Jesus says not to heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do. Jesus criticizes two things herein:
- Heaping up empty phrases
- The idea that many words are heard more readily than few
There are many practices which can be indicted by these words of Jesus. The idea that a ritual of saying the same words over and over will accomplish something is clearly in mind here. Is God somehow more likely to answer my prayer if I repeat it ten times? No. Is God somehow pleased by the repetition of prayers that are not heart-felt? No. So why DO you repeat the prayers of the Rosary so many times? My hope is that you will answer this question honestly, and guage whether it fits within the Biblical framework of what prayer ought to be. If you repeat your prayers because you think you’ll be heard for your many words, Jesus is speaking against your practice. If you speak any prayer without actually meaning what you’re saying, then you’re heaping up empty phrases, and Jesus is speaking against your practice.
Some others in this thread brought up the concept of meditation. The idea, they say, is that their use of the Rosary gives direction and focus to their prayer. Of course, there are many other things which give direction and focus to prayer which do not require the use of a Rosary and which are not repetitive. There are even nontraditional uses of the Rosary which avoid repetition. However, just because something appears to give a good result does not mean that it is sanctioned by God for use by His people. The argument (such as the one that Scylla put forth) really boils down to this:
- Jesus said not to do as the Gentiles do in Matthew 6:7
- People’s minds wander when they pray
- My mind doesn’t wander when I pray the Rosary
- Therefore, the Rosary can’t have anything to do with Matthew 6:7
The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premise. The question ought to be whether the Rosary is acceptable, not whether it keeps you focused.
There is another reason that Protestants do not pray the Rosary, and another reason we would criticize it, and that is its use in Marian devotion. I do not intend here to make this out to be a simple issue, because I understand the Roman Catholic position to be more complex than some may think (issues of doulia and latria, for example), but it should be fair to say that every major Protestant church has historically opposed intercession through the saints (though the Anglican Church has recently seen greater Catholic tendencies than in the previous 100 years).