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.