"When you pray, don't repeat as the pagans do..."


#1

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.

Thanks.

(PS This is not the same friend I mentioned in another thread regarding “free-thinkers”)


#2

Here: Is Jesus against Catholic Prayers?

Scott


#3

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”.

In praying the Rosary, the prayers are addressed to the true God and to Mary, and therefore, are not “vain” at all.

Jesus used repititious prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when He “went forward and prayed the same prayer as before”, so we can hardly condemn repetitive prayer.

Ergo, the problem is with “vain” repetitive prayer. And the Rosary, while certainly repetitive, is certainly not vain, as it is addressed to God and not to an idol.


#4

…so don’t say the Lord’s Prayer more than once… sheese, Jesus will sure hate to here that…

Peace!:thumbsup:
http://mediasoftware.free.fr/index.1.jpg


#5

The point to remember is that it’s “vain repetition” that is being talked about in this petition, not repetition per se. The pagans believed that they had to repeat all the possible names of the gods in the hope that they would hit the right one, so to speak, in order for their petitions to be heard. And after all, presumably your friend has said the Our Father more than once in his life, and Revelation has a passage wherein the angels are repeating, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord”. It’s a bogus charge—don’t be intimidated by it.


#6

Psalm 136?


#7

I do not recall it being standard Catholic practice to also stand in front of people saying prayers loudly and making a show about it.

We shouldn’t judge what is in other peoples hearts, “For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

The rosary enables me to meditate on Jesus’s purpose and life here on earth without my mind wandering. It is much more difficult to sit for about half an hour and pray without some structure. Let me sit in a room with a rosary and let someone else sit with me without one and lets see who can keep their mind on Jesus sincerely without just waiting for the time in the room to end.

God Bless
Scylla


#8

We are not just repeating words - we are praying prayers - the rosary is a meditation on the gospels.
Your friend is incorrect. I would tell him, gently, that Catholics do not simply ‘repeat words’ when we pray - that we are engaged wholly, body mind and spirit, which may be confusing to a non-Catholic. We are, however, praying to Christ, not to a pagan god.

Remind him (again, with love) that Jesus himself prayed using the same words over and over (Matthew, 26:44) and that in Revelations we are instructed to repeat certain prayers day and night (Rev 4:8). The first letter to the Thessalosians (spelling?) 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing.

Emphasize to your friend that we pray to Christ and that the instructions he refers to were given to those who pray to false gods and idols. That does not apply to Catholics.


#9

I like to remember the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee is vain and prideful in his prayer thanking God for not being like “the others”.The tax collector however is on his knees repeating something to the effect of “have mercy on me”.
I wish I could remember chapter and verse, but Chirst commends the tax collector because of the honest heartfelt intent of his prayer despite it being repititious.
Dunno… It has always made me chuckle when Bible Christians miss that story, yet I can not site chapter and verse, but know it is there somewhere…

In Christ…
Pisio


#10

Not to be critical, since I have heard Protestants pray some of the most beautiful and meaningful prayer, but pay attention to the way so many protestants pray out loud (particularly when it is a person leading the prayer of a group, such as at supper or before a football game - yes, they still do that in places in the South!). More than likely, you’ll hear “Lord, we just wanna. . .” “and Lord, we just want to . . .” "and we just want to . . . Lord . . . " over and over again, interspersed with cliches and virtually meaningless phrases that are kept handy in the back of the person’s mind to use in “spontaneous” prayer. Everybody can be guilty of vain repetition, be they Catholic or Protestant, whether they are praying the Rosary or just spontaneously. It depends on where your heart is. There have been times in the past when I have prayed the Rosary or some other pre-written prayer vainly. But there have also been times when praying the Rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy have been heart-felt and edifying to my spirit and mind.


#11

[quote=Absalom!]Not to be critical, since I have heard Protestants pray some of the most beautiful and meaningful prayer, but pay attention to the way so many protestants pray out loud (particularly when it is a person leading the prayer of a group, such as at supper or before a football game - yes, they still do that in places in the South!). More than likely, you’ll hear “Lord, we just wanna. . .” “and Lord, we just want to . . .” "and we just want to . . . Lord . . . " over and over again, interspersed with cliches and virtually meaningless phrases that are kept handy in the back of the person’s mind to use in “spontaneous” prayer. Everybody can be guilty of vain repetition, be they Catholic or Protestant, whether they are praying the Rosary or just spontaneously. It depends on where your heart is. There have been times in the past when I have prayed the Rosary or some other pre-written prayer vainly. But there have also been times when praying the Rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy have been heart-felt and edifying to my spirit and mind.
[/quote]

:amen:


#12

[quote=Pisio]I like to remember the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee is vain and prideful in his prayer thanking God for not being like “the others”.The tax collector however is on his knees repeating something to the effect of “have mercy on me”.
I wish I could remember chapter and verse, but Chirst commends the tax collector because of the honest heartfelt intent of his prayer despite it being repititious.
Dunno… It has always made me chuckle when Bible Christians miss that story, yet I can not site chapter and verse, but know it is there somewhere…

In Christ…
Pisio
[/quote]

It is Luke 18:9-14. The text doesn’t actually say that the tax collector (publican in the KJV) repeated his prayer for mercy, but there is nothing to imply he didn’t, either. Unfortunately, Fundamentalists will say it can’t be used to argue for repetitive prayer because of that, so it might not be good to use it. Although, I certainly agree with your understanding of the parable.

I think a better thing to point out is the repetitious phrases in Psalms, Proverbs and the Song of Songs. Besides, if it is all right for Fundamentalists to praise God by repeating phrases like “Jesus I love you”, etc. over and over again, it is certainly all right for Catholics to repeat two verses from the Bible over and over again: “Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee” Luke 1:28b and “…blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” Luke 1:42. :wink:


#13

I think this about sums it up for me. When I pray the Rosary, I use more sense faculties than I do in probably any other form of prayer. I’m touching the beads, I’m voicing the prayers, I’m meditating on the mysteries, and I’m usually looking at the Crucifix, all while listening to the words of the prayers. It really engages ALL of me, in that sense, and so, instead of just “reciting” prayers, it keeps me focused.

It really is one of the best ways to pray using your WHOLE being, I think, so in that sense, it’s far from vain.

Mike


#14

The Apostle John, in chapter 4 of Revelations, he witnessed four living creatures day and night never ceasing to sing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” (Rev. 4:8).

Now, if its good enough for angels, it’s certainly good enough for me. I think I’m going to say a Rosary to pray for those who preach against Repetitious Prayer;).

Better yet, why don’t we start a Rosary Prayer Chain for those who preach against Repetitious Prayer!!!

NotWorthy


#15

I’m irish so I might be to out there to know any better but, I seem to remeber that our mother Mary appeared at Lourdes (I think, It could be fatima. I new to the Catholic thing, and she does seem to get around) and told us to pray the rosary and Meditate on the Sacred heart of Jesus. An odd thing for Jesus to send down someone to say if he didn’t like the rosary and then to put his name right by it. So I have to push for what these guys are saying. It makes more sense. But like I said I’m Irish and us Irish are a bit out there.


#16

[quote=Montie Claunch]I’m irish so I might be to out there to know any better but, I seem to remeber that our mother Mary appeared at Lourdes (I think, It could be fatima. I new to the Catholic thing, and she does seem to get around) and told us to pray the rosary and Meditate on the Sacred heart of Jesus. An odd thing for Jesus to send down someone to say if he didn’t like the rosary and then to put his name right by it. So I have to push for what these guys are saying. It makes more sense. But like I said I’m Irish and us Irish are a bit out there.
[/quote]

Montie - you are gettin’ in the swing o’ things, my brother.

And I am half-Irish, half- Italian…someone once asked me if I really believed in aparitions. I told them, “For heaven’s sake - I’m a Catholic. What do you think?”.
:rotfl:

I do think you bring up a very good point, too. Our Lady has asked us to pray in a certain way in order to meditate on the gospels and unite ourselves with the suffering of her Son, Our Lord and Savior.
That’s a pretty darn good endorsement for me, too!


#17

My husband is in the process of making his own bumper stickers. He took pictures of his rosary and wants to put them on the stickers with the words “Some things need repeating!” :wink:

Oh, and I think everyone else’s answers cover just about everything I would have said too. :thumbsup:


#18

[quote=legeorge]My husband is in the process of making his own bumper stickers. He took pictures of his rosary and wants to put them on the stickers with the words “Some things need repeating!”

[/quote]

That is so-o-o-o right on!


#19

[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.
[/quote]

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”.
[/quote]

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:

  1. Heaping up empty phrases
  2. 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:

  1. Jesus said not to do as the Gentiles do in Matthew 6:7
  2. People’s minds wander when they pray
  3. My mind doesn’t wander when I pray the Rosary
  4. 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).


#20

Matt. 6:7 - Jesus teaches, “do not heap up empty phrases” in prayer. Protestants use this verse to criticize various Catholic forms of prayer which repeat phrases, such as litanies and the Rosary. But Jesus’ focus in this instruction is on the “vain,” and not on the “repetition.”

Matt. 26:44 - for example, Jesus prayed a third time in the garden of Gethsemane, saying the exact same words again. It is not the repetition that is the issue. It’s the vanity. God looks into our heart, not solely at our words.

Luke 18:13 - the tax collector kept beating his breast and praying “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” This repetitive prayer was pleasing to God because it was offered with a sincere and repentant heart.

Acts 10:2,4 - Cornelius prayed constantly to the Lord and his prayers ascended as a memorial before God.

Rom. 1:9 - Paul says that he always mentions the Romans in his prayers without ceasing.

Rom. 12:12 - Paul commands us to be constant in prayer. God looks at what is in our heart, not necessarily how we choose our words.

1 Thess. 5:17 - Paul commands us to pray constantly. Good repetition is different than vain repetition.

Rev. 4:8 - the angels pray day and night without cessation the same words “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” This is repetitious prayer that is pleasing to God.

Psalm 136 - in this Psalm, the phrase “For His steadfast love endures forever” is more repetitious than any Catholic prayer, and it is God’s divine Word. Dan. 3:35-66 - the phrase “Bless the Lord” is similarly offered repeatedly, and mirrors Catholic litanies.


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