Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Why do Catholics promote vain and repetitious prayer?

Catholics just don’t get the Bible, do they? In Matthew 6:7-8 Jesus himself clearly says that vain and repetitious prayers are out! Why babble on and on, over and over like “the pagans”? The fact that Catholics have those repetitious prayers, like the rosary among others, is just a one more thumb in the nose to the very words of Jesus.

I’ve heard this said. Well, ok, it wasn’t this exactly but the sentiment and theme are certainly captured above. The core question is: Why do Catholics have repetitious prayers when the Bible clearly says vain and repetitious prayers are bad?

The answer is that there’s a big difference between “vain and repetitious” and “repetitious”.

Matthew 6 is referring to the pagan practice of repeating a pagan god’s name over and over to get the god to come down and do something for them. The pagan believed they gained power over the god by finding out the god’s name. In case anyone’s confused, Catholic’s don’t do that!

We do, however, repeat prayers for several reasons. One is to assist in meditation. For example, the rosary is a meditation on the life of Christ. Another reason is for familiarity. Repeated prayers are learned. Why repeat the creed over and over? It’s the core of our faith, we should know that thing frontwards and backwards. Why write it out if no one even knows it? Why not repeat it as a renewal of our beliefs? Do you say “I love you” to your bride at the altar and never again? I bet you repeat it; along with other things important to you.

Another reason why we repeat prayers is that Jesus did, and we Catholics are into imitating him. Isn’t it funny when Jesus contradicts the Bible just like Catholics do? I get a kick out of that!

In the garden, Jesus prays three times for the cup to be passed by him. If he had listened to himself, and to 21st century Protestants, he should’ve prayed only once, right? Why repeat himself?

Why did Jesus say, at the Last Supper, to “do this in remembrance of me”? Isn’t he inviting repetition? Why doesn’t he say “do something spontaneous that reminds you of this in remembrance of me”?

And what did Jesus say right after verses 7 and 8? I know what you’re thinking “there you go with that whole context thing you Catholics keep talking about”. Sorry, but I can’t resist!

What he did in verse 9 and following was to immediately recite the Our Father, or Lord’s Prayer. What prayer, through all time, has been repeated more often than the Our Father? If Jesus is condemning repetitious prayers, why did he immediately follow this condemnation by telling us a prayer and asking us to repeat it?

What do you think? Share your thoughts in a comment; we’d be happy to hear your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

wow...i didnt understand until now...
everythings is a little bit more clear.
Im not catholic, i respect it. I feel better that now i know more about it then i did a couple of minutes ago.

Reality said...

OK, you really DONT get it.
The Lords Prayers is a template, that's it. It shows HOW to pray, not WHAT to pray.
First, give honor to God, and so on.
Please, if you really think God is a real being, don't think for an instant that repeating the same words over and over is what he wants.
Do you want that from YOUR kids?
No, you want their heart. That is what you pray.

Anonymous said...

i agree with the last person. i believe catholics mean well, and many of them are brothers and sisters in Christ,and should be treated so!. but as a baptist, or rather, as a follower of Christ Jesus, i dont think God wants us to repeat the same stuff over and over, thats why he made humans, not robots!!!

Anonymous said...

I am not sure how the last person derives that God does not wants us to repeat prayer. Having repetitive prayer in heaven (Revelations 4:8)is a funny way for God to show us not to repeat prayer. “Day and night, without pause, they sing: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. He who was, and who is, and who is to come!'” (Revelation 4:8).

Catholic Connection Team said...

Excellent point, annon. Day and night for all eternity would get rather repetitious. God must not mind it that much...

gabagool said...



GET IT???? That little three letter word is REAL important, ok????? Seems to me, any God worth his salt is MORE interested in whether the prayer is for HIS sake just for show.......get it. Vanity is bad. Repetition is simply..........boring.

Anonymous said...

Also ,we are NOT in heaven yet .It is like we are in a battle .After the victorious fight we will celebrate,and repeat any glorious song you want . BUT, in the midst of a battle ,you better be talking to me of the thing at hand.your position ,and what you are encountering ,etc. etc.(sorry, playing too much PS3). Furthermore when we are together ,as a group ,maybe some repetition ,but when you are alone ?.Again ,for many it is a religious thing,not led by the spirit,THAT GIVES YOU UTTERANCE.There is a place for both but a lot of prayers are "canned". How can you be led by the spirit if 4 weeks from now you have your mass all picked out for you ? Once you have experienced rebirth and learn to talk ,you will see packaged prayer is less needed. When Jesus saw the negative in repetitious prayer,it was just an indicator of the heart, most were not born again, and were even sons of the devil , foxes, His future killers.

paulared said...

There is really no need for argument on this issue. At the final Judgement no one will be thinking about if they repeated prayers or not. Please read Romans 14. We are to be in unity and love with each other. The good news is we are all praying! Praise be to God.

Anonymous said...

The last two comments should be removed, as inappropriate, esp two comments back. Don't even waste time to read it.
God is a person. He may have limitless patience and time. He wants your heart and wants sincerity. This is why God was a friend with Moses, Abraham, David, John. I feel he wants you to listen to him. He wants to spend honest real communication time with each person. After I invited Jesus to be in charge of my heart and invited him as head of my life, my eyes and heart were opened to him. Please understand the intent of the vain and repetitious words verse. Would you want your children repeating ANY phrase that isn't their entire personal opinion? He wants honesty sincerity and brokenness of self to put Jesus in charge. It isn't about a church or any church's dogma or canned words, it is about a loving relationship with a parent because he wants heartfelt listening and a sincere God/Disciple relationship with his children. He doesn't want to waste his time or yours with repetitious words that aren't sincere personal communication from your own heart.
A love poem to God is lovely, but means nothing if not sincere and from your own heart. Canned prayer is not better than personal prayer, any more than is a canned conversation with your parent. He appreciates each person and wants to hear their heart, esp if it is open to Him.

Anonymous said...

As a former catholic I have alot of issues with the teachings of the church. Confession, repetitious prayer, baptising babies, praying for the name a few. God created us all with the need to know HIM. People are always looking for something to fill their void~it is JESUS. Search for HIM, find HIM and then HE (through the Holy Spirit)will show you how to pray. It will be a relationship not a religion. God's Blessings to all that are searching.

Anonymous said...

Catholics are blinded by their traditions and believe that they can earn salvation. They are deceived and don't know Jesus. The bible reveals that the unbeliever and religious alike will NOT enter the kingdom of God, but only the disciple shall. It is the one that renounces all to Christ and abides in Him. It is the one who enters through the narrow gate and the one who hungers and thirsts after God. It is the one who lives under His authority and bears good fruit. Most of my family are Catholic and their lifestyles definitely don't reflect the reality of Christ and don't even know what God's eternal purpose is for their lives. I hear them even blaspheme God's name. Jesus tells us all about such people and refers to them as hypocrites. Repetitious prayer in Catholicism is a religious pattern and is done in vanity. "Religion" places barriers in our way and blinds us from truly connecting with our Creator.

Anonymous said...

I can not understand why Catholics have a pope to me its worshipping a idol like a pegan not god.

Dan said...


What would you say to the atheist who says "I can not understand why Christians believe in God. To me it's worshiping an invisible sky-fairy"?

Would you say "that's a very reasonable argument" or would you say "go do a little research on what Christians actually believe and you'll see that your assumptions are unfounded".

You're welcome to keep thinking Catholics worship the pope but I invite you to do a little research into what Catholics actually believe and you'll see that your assumptions are unfounded.


Anonymous said...

The Our Father was not necessarily an actual prayer to recite but a method of prayer. The Lord Jesus "pray this way" not "say this prayer". The Our Father gives glory to God in the beginning, then asks God to provide, then asks for forgiveness. The Lord Jesus was teaching us that in prayer we must glorify God before making requests (hallowed be thy name comes before give us our daily bread) and ask for forgiveness. If recited in the Spirit the Our Father is the best way to pray but when babbled repetitively it is quite pointless.

agent_buzz said...

I'm not Catholic, I'm Orthodox, but I came across the "vain repetitions" argument in another forum, and posted this:

His words, written in Greek by St. Matthew, were “…δὲ μὴ βατταλογήσητε ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί.” “De me battalogesete hosper hoi ethnikoi”. Battalogesete comes from the verb infinitive “battalogeo” meaning to stammer, to babble, to chatter [mindlessly]. The “ethnikoi” were the “gentiles” who worshipped Baal on Mount Carmel and the Artemis-worshippers in Ephesus ( Remember “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”?). They would make certain noises that had a mystical value in that the “stammering” would transport them into a kind of ecstasy. They believed that babbling like demented beasts until they got “high on Baal” would allow them to communicate directly with the Gods. Perhaps they did communicate with some sentient beings in the spirit world, but God, YHVH, the Holy and Blessed Trinity, cannot be contacted through ecstatic prayer. Perhaps they were communicating with daemons. Or maybe just their own febrile “Id”.
In any case, Christ our God did not proscribe Christian prayer, whether rosaries, the “Jesus Prayer”, or any other wherein a Christian (Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox) earnestly seeks God. Sometimes it’s all I can do to say “God have mercy” or “Gospodi pomilui”. Sometimes I feel like like my jaw is just a steam-shovel for the dust of the ground and all I can get out is “God have mercy on me!”

Dan said...

Thanks for the note, agent_buzz. I appreciate you taking the time to add your input!


kippercat123 said...

This articles claim is a lie from the pits of hell. For the verse Mathew 8:8 says it is God of heaven is being referred to !! You can not take scripture out of context people !

Matthew 6 is referring to the pagan practice of repeating a pagan god’s name over and over to get the god to come down and do something for them.

kippercat123 said...

Did anyone notice this article claims that Jesus contradicted the bible , which in essence says that Jesus contradicted himself ? Wow, freedom of speech has its bad side too !

Anonymous2 said...

You people are nuts...get a life! You have 2 commands: Love God, love your neighbor. Stop putting other people down, listen, learn, try to be like Christ. That's it. If Catholic meditation involves repetitive prayer, great! Do you think that's all they do? Good Grief! Relax high and mighty philosophers and get some sleep.