As some know I have been struggling with the lithurgy and tradition of my church – this as left me feeling confused ,, should I change churches – I even had someone tell me “ you get out what you put in” as if it was my fault that I didnt “feel” anything repeating prayers etc written ( not scripture) by men a couple hundred years ago . Well no more – I was listening to a Joyce Myer Cd on prayer , lent by a friend and the word Vain repetition popped on – I replayed it over and took a mental note to look into it futher – did Matthew 6:6-8 fit my situation – so easy to try and make things fit – a bit like make a square peg fit a round hole .
Matthew 6:6-8(New King James Version)
6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 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.
What is Vain Repetition?
Vain can mean unsuccessful or selfish so maybe this means not only selfish prayers but those that focus not on God but look how good I am at saying my prayers- going through the motions and to be honest that is what it means for me – I feel its going through the motions and missing the point , the connection with God.
I dont think repetition is a problem , I think its the vainness of our prayers which are the problem. If we pray ‘Lord, have mercy’ every day or every Sunday , whether its 10 times or 100 but it means little in our hearts, its pointless , if we are just reciting words, we are better off not praying at all! God wants my prayers, he wants them to genuine and heartfelt so Im going to go with what this tells me, this is not the type of prayers for me , it doesnt mean they are wrong or that mine are less than those traditional prayers – Gods looks into our hearts and sees the truth . Some are blessed by them and that is wonderful just as I feel blessed by a more modern church service and spontanous prayer .
But in the back of my mind , in the deepest part of me is this feeling that we tie ourselves too much to the traditions of man and if we dont let go of it , its a barrier to how we are with God.
6He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
” ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ 8You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”