WHAT IS VAIN REPETITION IN PRAYER?
“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
Jesus Christ directed us not to involve vain repetitions in our prayers, and so what is vain repetition? Does it means praying long prayer or saying a word or statement repeatedly? Does it means asking God something more than once in our prayer, even though we have not received it? NO, vain repetition is none of the above. Vain repetition is more serious, subtle, and deceptive. There is different between “vain repetition” and “repetition”. Jesus did not not say we should not repeat or re-emphasize in our prayers, He did not oppose repetition, but only vain repetition.
Vain repetition comes in various ways which many of us get involved unknowingly. Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do.” This shows that vain repetitions were originally the act of the heathen – religious worshipers, the people who worshiped false gods and the religious people.
Here are some vain repetitions:
FAITH IN PRAYER
The heathens’ faith is hinged on their prayer, believing the answers to their prayers are determined by their prayer, “For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Matthew 6:7 The heathen who are not serving Jesus but other gods, keep repeating in pain, hoping their gods will consider how they suffer themselves, and answer them. Let’s see example from the Bible: 1 kings 18:26-28, “So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made. 27 And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them.”
In Christianity, our faith does not depend on our prayer but on the God who answers prayer. Christ did not teach us to put our faith in our prayer, but in God that answers prayer; He said we should even believe God’s answers before we prayer. So, “It is not by power, neither by might, but by My Spirit” says the Lord. Using candle, water, anointing oil, handkerchief or other stuffs to pray is an act of the idol worshipers; the scripture directs us to pray only in the name of Jesus Christ and believe God for answer, simple! Anything apart from that is extra-biblical phenomenon. There is nothing called special prayer, special man of God for speedy answer or special place to pray in the teaching of Jesus Christ; running from mountains to meetings, traveling from far distance to a program for special prayer is an act of unbelievers.
We can travel far distance to hear the Word of God that will help our spiritual lives, and we can travel far distance to do the work of God, but not for special prayer or to meet special man of God who will help us pray to God. When you become a child of God, and living your life to please Him, you have access to God through the name of Jesus Christ, without intermediary. Only the heathen, unbelievers or unserious Christians need somebody to help them present their requests to God. As children of God, we can pray for one another and pray together, but not presenting our prayers to another person to pray to God on our behalf. Giving a minister money for prayer, paying money or making vow before prayer are unscriptural.
PRAYER WITHOUT FAITH
This is common in the lives of many Christians today, we pray as routine, just to pray because we are Christians, without faith in God for the prayer, without expectation for the prayer. Prayer without faith is in vain. We pray because we serve God that answers prayer, who delights in our prayer. Prayer is an exciting activity because God listens and answers, but when prayer becomes boring to you, it means you do not have faith that God listens or will answer your prayer.The fact that God delays to answer your demands does not means He is denying you or He does not delight in you; God is only doing great things on your behalf that will daze many who will later hear your testimony. If you have the knowledge that whenever you pray, heaven stands still, that God is waiting for the sweet smelling of your prayer, you will look forward to praying, and not look warm in prayer. Jesus did not ask us to pray for the sake of praying as a Christian routine, but He asks us to pray so that we can receive.
John 16:24, “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
Praying without expectation is a vain repetition; until you are expectant, you have asked nothing.
PRAYER WITHOUT OBEDIENCE
Obedience to God is more important than prayer to God. When you ignore to obey God’s word, and you keep praying, it means you are doing vain repetitions. Maybe you suppose to repent and confess your sin, but you ignore that and keep praying for God’s mercy, such prayer is vain repetition. Some people commit sins, and instead of them to open up, confess to God and the necessary people, they keep praying for forgiveness and mercy – they are doing VAIN repetition. We can only receive mercy when we confess and forsake our sins. Proverbs 28:13. When the Spirit of God is leading you to open up your covered sin or to do restitution, but you refuse to obey, and you keep praying for mercy, mercy; you are only doing vain repetition. Obedience is better than sacrifice!
Maybe you are living in sin, living with sinful partner, doing a sinful business, working at an ungodly place, using fake document, age or you are benefiting from your past sin; then the Word of God is warning you to forsake the sins and forfeit the sinful benefits and surrender all to God, but instead of you to simply obey, you remain in the sinful thing and you keep fasting and praying for God’s mercy. Such prayer is a waste of time and a vain repetition. Some even go to the extend of giving huge amount of money and time for God’s work, thinking God will consider that and overlook their disobedience; they are ignorant that God cannot be bribed by fasting, long prayer or sacrifices. Obedience to God’s word is more important than prayer and fasting, than sowing or giving for God’s work. Your pastors or your church can accept your gifts and pray for you, but you are not at peace with your Creator until you simply obey.
Matthew 5:23, 24, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Prayer is should be made continuously without ceasing. In any particular request, we should keep asking, reminding God until our joy is full – that is faith repetition not vain repetition. Keep the Word of God in total obedience, keep the faith, and keep praying until your joy is full.
And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. 15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.
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