Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vain Repetition

Biblegems #54

The Bible says not to use “vain repletion” in our prayers. Does that include our constantly repeated prayers for lost loved ones? Should we just "ask" and turn it over to the Holy Spirit and say “done"? How does one differentiate between "repetition" and "concern"?

The passage in question comes from Jesus’ sermon on the mount:
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking (Matt. 6:7 KJV).

The word in the Greek NT for “vain repetitions” more literally means “to babble.” There are two ways this can be interpreted, both of which may well have been what Jesus meant. To “babble” can mean to talk on an on, filling the air with words for the purpose of impressing others and impressing God. To “babble” can also mean to utter meaningless sounds, nonsense words, repeating such sounds over and over. This practice is frequently used—then and now—to aid in self-hypnotic meditation.

Either way (or both), Jesus says, ‘Don’t do it.’
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matt. 6:8 NIV).

In contrast to this kind of babbling prayer, Jesus teaches us to be persistent in prayer regarding things of importance. He gives an example in Luke 11: 5-8 of a man who wakes up his friend at midnight to borrow some bread, but is unsuccessful. However, because of his friend’s persistence, the sleepy man finally gives in.
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Luke 11:9).

Praying persistently for the salvation of your unsaved loved ones does not fit the definition of babbling. God wants us to remain persistent in this kind of prayer, and not to give up, because He is not giving up on those we are praying for…
who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4).

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