And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Matthew 6:7
Prayer is a wonderful and powerful thing. In James 5:16, we read that fervent, or passionate, prayers from righteous people is very powerful and beneficial, and “avails much”. It is an effective tool that is readily available to us. And we are to use it often, praying “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Christians have so much to be thankful for and we can offer prayers of thanksgiving to God. Shelter, food, family and friends; there is so much for us to be grateful for. Blessings abound richly, particularly for the obedient follower of Christ. We have redemption in His blood, an inheritance, and a spiritual family to help us through life’s journey.
And we also struggle. Everyone has difficult days and it helps to be able to go to someone and lay our cares and burdens out. God is always ready and willing to listen and we can speak to Him and ask Him for help. This can all be done through prayer.
There is often times a lot of things that we wish to ‘cram’ into out prayers. And when we pray each day, multiple times a day, we can’t help but sometimes create a pattern, or habit, where we repeat our prayers.
It can become harder to come out with unique prayers that are ‘fresh’, as we try to avoid the vain repetitions that Jesus warns against in Matthew 6:7. It gets even more difficult when there is a particular common theme that we are trying to convey in our prayers.
For example, when we meet around the Lord’s table to remember our Saviour, Jesus Christ. How many ways can we give thanks for Jesus sacrifice, paying the price for our sins? How many ways can we offer thanks for the bread and fruit of the vine that represent the body and blood of the great Messiah?
Luckily for us, we don’t have to avoid repetitions. Jesus’ command in Matthew 6:7, isn’t against using repetitions, but against using “vain repetitions”. Is it wrong for us to use a similar, or even the same, prayer over and over again? Of course not! Not as long as we are still focusing on what we are saying and meaning what we are saying. We cannot be saying the words just for the sake of saying them. Let us avoid vain repetitions by fixing our minds on the words being offered to God, each time we pray.
-- John Thrower Jr.