Scripture:  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. 8 Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. Matthew 6:7-8 (NKJV)

Observation:  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions—“Babble not” would be a better rendering, both for the form of the word—which in both languages is intended to imitate the sound—and for the sense, which expresses not so much the repetition of the same words as a senseless multiplication of them; as appears from what follows
as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking—This method of heathen devotion is still observed by Hindu and Mohammedan devotees. With the Jews, says Lightfoot, it was a maxim, that “Every one who multiplies prayer is heard.”  As Tholuck justly observes, the very prayer which our Lord gave as an antidote to vain repetitions is the most abused to this superstitious end; the number of times it is repeated counting for so much more merit. Is not this just that characteristic feature of heathen devotion which our Lord here condemns? But praying much, and using at times the same words, is not here condemned, and has the example of our Lord Himself in its favor. [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

Application: Ellen White wrote that, “Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him.” (A Call to Stand Apart, p. 26).  A conversation between friends that only repeats the same words over and over will not only become tiresome eventually but it will not encourage growth and depth in the relationship either.  Imagine a couple that is dating, or preparing for marriage, and they repeat the exact same conversation every single day, with no variation at all.  No new information is exchanged, there’s no exploration of their feelings, there’s no sharing of thoughts or ideas, just the same words day in and day out.  How would they come to know enough about each other to decide on their future life.

If there is to be growth in our relationship with God, we need to both speak to Him from the depths of our heart and also listen attentively to what He has to share with us for that moment or that day.  In the same way, if we want to experience growth in our marriage or greater closeness to our spouse and children, we need to spend time in good conversation with both exchanging thoughts, feelings, and ideas, and listening for what the others may have to share.

Some of those great opportunities for this type of sharing take place during family meals, during worship times, and during recreational activities such as hiking, camping, or enjoying a picnic together.  Open your ears and your heart to what others have to say, and speak to them from the depths of your heart; that type of intimacy is what God designed marriage and the family to enjoy.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, help us as we communicate verbally our thoughts and feelings, our likes an dislikes, our fear and our joys with one another so that our sharing will become our bonding together.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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