Why do some Protestants say we should not make repetitive prayers?


Iam just wondering why some Protestants I’ve come across over the years state that Catholic’s should not use the same prayers over and over again. The Hail Mary for isntance, the Glory Be, and so on.

Witnesses especially have a problem with this. I still do not see why they think that we should not make the same prayers
repetitively? Do you not think that it honors Mary, and honors God? or do you think that God has heard enough of repetitive

Our prayers are heartfelt and sincere, so why would God not want to hear them? Protestants will even cite scriptures to back up their stance on not making repetitive prayers. i can’t think off hand where the particular scripture is that they state
proves that we should not say the same prayers over and over

Do you as a Protestant say one favorite prayer repetitively? or do you think that once a particular prayer said, that it is history?

Why can you tell me please, do some of your brothers and sisters state that Catholic’s should not make repetitive prayers?


Most point to Matthew 6:7, which states that:

“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” - Matthew 6:7 (KJV)

In the Greek, the word used is “battologeo”, which means to repeat idly, referring to meaningless and mechanically repeated phrases.

In context, Jesus is referring to pagan (not Jewish) prayer.


interesting!! never thought of it from that point of view before!
the witnesses intepret this to mean that Catholic’s or anyone else for that matter, ought not to repeat prayers.

i never thought to stop to think that perhaps Jesus was referring to heathens. interesting…


This is why:

(King James Bible)
Matthew 6:7
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [do]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

They believe that the rosary is the repetitive prayer which Jesus is telling them not to pray.

I know the difference and you know the difference, but they don’t. You can try to show them how the rosary is scriptural, and a meditation prayer, but I don’t think you will have any luck convincing them that it is not the type of prayer mentioned in that passage. All you can do is plant seeds in their mind.


I did notice Protestants use the KJV here to ‘prove’ their point. The KJV has ‘vain repetitions’, while the DRV has ‘speak not much’.

Here it is in the Greek:

‘proseuchomenoi de me battalogesete osper oi ethnikoi dokousin gar oti en te polulogia auton eisakouseesontai’

Note here ‘battalogeo’ and ‘polulogia’.

‘battalogeo’ is from the words ‘Battos’ (a Proverbial Stammerer) and ‘logos’ (word) while ‘polulogia’ is from ‘polu’ (many; the same word where we get the English word ‘poly-’) and ‘logos’. Thus, what Jesus is condemning here is ‘stuttering’ and using ‘many words’ in prayers like the pagans, which use the names of their gods and meaningless syllables to invoke their gods to help them.


I have shared prayer with Protestants for my entire life since adolescence, both within and outside the context of my work as a church musician. We are talking about a period of nearly 40 years, and it is news to me that they complain about repetitiousness of set prayers. We are instructed both by scripture and by common sense if we believe in prayer at all to pray continuously, and repetitious prayer was instituted by our Lord himself, if not before.

Without wishing or intending to point a finger at any poster, I have noticed here in general a tendency to be reactive to weirdosities (if I may coin a term) in other denominations that are not at all typical. One can find the most bizarre things in sectarian beliefs which are not worth the time of day. For instance, I would be happy if somebody could explain to me the concept that the essence of salvation is being washed in the blood of the lamb. People who claim that refuse to explain it, as thought it were supposed to be some sort of self-evident concept.



Makes me wonder if Jesus was condemning the modern practice some call “speaking in tongues,” which sounds more like stammering than speaking a real language. :confused:


Protestants today are taught repetitive prayer is wrong because that is what Rev. Martin Luther, O.S.A. (he was an Augustinian priest - theologian) taught as part of his gospel.

Of course they are taught this is Scripture based but what they aren’t taught is that this is irrelevant and misleading. The Apostles learned the Gospel they preached and taught directly from Jesus and the Holy Spirit, not from Scripture. This Gospel was handed down orally (same way the Scribes, Pharissees & Jesus taught) to Luther and to us, generation by generation.

They also are not taught that virtually no one had this belief until Fr. Martin Luther made it up out of his own whims & fancies in the 16th century, making it a tradition of men. Protestants are misled into thinking they are following the bible when they are really following the theology of Luther who made up his own gospel after hearing the Gospel as preached by the Church and deciding he couldn’t follow it.

In making up his gospel, in part based on his own personal guesswork on bible verses, he found some verses to support his new doctrine/practice even though he knew the Gospel as preached & taught by the Apostles didn’t originate from the bible, but was taught to them by Jesus himself during his three years of public ministry.


[LEFT]It is also thought that the “greek” word battologeo may have been derived from an Aramaic phrase, and is onomatopoeic in character. In Siniatic Syriac the word “battalatha” means idle things. (See Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, page 963).

Also, pagans at that time were particularly bothered about using the right name by which to address God when they prayed, and they would start by stringing together a whole series of mystic names and titles. Then you would be sure of getting the attention of the god or goddess you were after. (From "Kingdom Living - The Lord’s Prayer here.) [/LEFT]


The “vain repetition” accusation is not a weirdiosity in the south. I’ve heard it many times, and have taught my kids to expect it in school, etc.

I think the “vain” part is the problem.


Rather than that being the reason I think its more of a justification.

I think the primary reason (at least originally) was to minimise the similarities between the Catholic and protestant churches, especially with respect to worship


I used to hear this from my husband, who is Protestant (hopefully one of these days Catholic!). He used to say that our praying at Mass was rote and repetitious. I asked him about this recently, and his response was that he had changed his mind. Now that he understands what goes on during Mass and he understands the meaning and source of so many of those prayers, he knows why they are so important. Mass is very different than what he grew up with, but he feels that it is very reverent and beautiful.


If you live in the southeasterrn US and send your kids to what passes for public school with the fundies, you have a special set of problems, and may God help you and your family. My advice would be to do what Jewish parents in your situation (who have enough courage, strength, and perseverance) do: Continue to fight it through the courts. Those jackasses are not supposed to be proselytizing your kids at school and it should be stopped forthwith.


In “Evangelical is Not Enough” Thomas Howard gives a really good explanation of rote prayer. He talks about how he grew up with “spontaneous” prayer in his evangelical household. Each night, he would pray for basically the same petitions, so even though he wasn’t trying to be repetitious, his prayers became so because there are only so many ways one can pray for ones needs and causes. The key really is vain. If you aren’t paying attention to what you’re praying, i think you can be praying vainly and reptitiously. I find myself not paying attention during the rosary quite often and i wonder if it wouldn’t be better to not say it at all.
Anyway, Jesus taught us the Our Father Himself. Do Protestants not say it? Don’t Christ’s words bear repeating? I feel bad for Protestants because i feel they are so limited in their prayer experience and have often been brought up with anti-Catholic teachings that keep them away from meditation and other prayers that might draw them deeper into God. You might also try asking why we always read the Bible in Church. After awhile isn’t it just vain repetition of God’s inspired word year after year? Why do we go over it repeatedly? Because the lessons we get from it need to be driven home again and again. When we pray the Our Father, we focus on glorifying the creator, giving thanks, asking for our needs, and continued assistance toward salvation. We NEED to do this over and over again because the temptations of the devil are always there. It isn’t vain if you mean it and if you need it. We eat over and over again, too, because our body needs it. Sometimes we eat the same foods over again because we need the same nutrients the next day and the day after that. Prayers that have been passed down through the ages, especially the Our Father, nourish our souls and we need that everyday, too.
Thomas Howard says it way better, though. The whole book is a real easy read, too, btw.:slight_smile:


The first Christians thought so.

From The Didache (AD 70)

Do not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, like this:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or, evil); for Thine is the power and the glory for ever…

Pray this three times each day.

“three times each day’ sounds awfully repetitious to me.


The key to this is not to quit, but instead to keep saying it until you’re praying it. I find that it takes me a really long time to “get into” the Rosary, especially if I’m under a lot of stress, but like I say, the key is to just keep going until you get there.

It’s amazing what happens when you persevere in the Rosary - it really is a miracle prayer. :thumbsup:


I think this is wonderful advice. I find myself in the same situation often.


Wait! Let’s take a look at how the Savior prayed. He wasn’t saying the Our Father in the garden of Gethsemane. Check out John 17.

Plead your case before God and watch for his answers. Communicate! I think it’s fine to have some repetition but every now and then have a heart to heart too.


I live in the Midwest, in Northern Illinois, near Chicago.

One of the most frequent objections to Catholicism that we hear is “repetitive prayers” which Jesus forbade in the verses cited above.

So it’s not a lunatic fringe, it’s a very common objection by Protestants to Catholicism.

My response is always, “You sing Praise and Worship choruses repetitively.”

One such chorus is “Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord.”

A very good sentence, to be sure, but it definitely fits the description of “repetitive.”

My husband and I were evangelical Protestants for 40 years, and we sat through many Praise and Worship times. Once we counted the repetitions of a certain chorus in a a very popular P and W song–43 times! They sang that chorus FORTY THREE TIMES!

Another comment I will make is, "Count how many times you say, “Just” in your prayers. “Just heal us now, Lord.” “We just want to praise you, Lord.” etc.

Finally, I will make the comment, “How many times have you repeated ‘I love you’ to your wife, children, family?” Is that wrong? Of course not. No matter how many times we hear it, we want to hear it again. Surely God is the same way–surely He wants to hear our sincere prayers and praises, even if we’ve said them a million times.

So IMO, the pot shouldn’t be calling the kettle black. All Christian denoms use certain verses, song, phrases repetitively. There’s nothing wrong with it.

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