Repetitive Prayer

Immediately before teaching them the Our Father, Jesus cautioned his disciples against prayer that consisted of empty words and useless repetition.

Non-Catholics often accuse Catholics of vain repetition for reciting chaplet prayers like the Rosary and Divine Mercy, as well as praying litanies and novenas.

Jesus was not condemning repetition but warning against babbling mindlessly like the pagans who thought that their long prayers with many words would satisfy their gods or impress other people.

A Catholic’s prayers should be meaningful and should focus their full attention on their relationship with God. This type of conversation with God is never vain.

Just as in the Jewish tradition, repetition in prayer and worship forms a Catholic’s thoughts and desires while stressing important themes and ideas to put into practice.

Sacred Scripture includes many examples of repetitive prayer in the presence of God. Many Bible stories are about people who had their prayers answered after praying persistently to God.

Repetition helps us reflect on the mysteries in our faith:

Chris Bray — All That Catholic Stuff

Jesus is talking about what’s going on in your heart:

Keith Nester

“In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Matthew 6: 7

Jesus condemned meaningless and mindless prayer:

Catholic Answers

Repetition can be perfectly pleasing to God:

Pints with Aquinas

But Jesus does not give us a formula to repeat mechanically. As in every vocal prayer, it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God to pray to their Father. Jesus not only gives us the words of our filial prayer; at the same time He gives us the Spirit by whom these words become in us “spirit and life.” Even more, the proof and possibility of our filial prayer is that the Father “sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'” Since our prayer sets forth our desires before God, it is again the Father, “He who searches the hearts of men,” who “knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” The prayer to Our Father is inserted into the mysterious mission of the Son and of the Spirit.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2766

Pay attention to the words:

Warner D’Souza

Pray with godliness:

St. Francis of Assisi, Marshalltown

Let us consider that scene on Mount Carmel, when the Prophet Elijah challenged the priests of Baal. They shouted, danced, and asked for many things, that their god would listen to them. But Elijah instead remained silent and the Lord revealed Himself to Elijah. Pagans think that one prays by speaking, speaking, speaking, speaking. I also think of many Christians who think that praying is — pardon me — “talking to God like parrots”. No! One prays from the heart, from within. You instead — Jesus says — when you pray, address God as a child to his father, who knows the things that are needed before he even asks him for them.

Pope Francis, General Audience, 2 January 2019

Vain repetition vs. devout repetition:

Maria Vision USA

Without relation, it is not prayer:

Notre Dame Parish

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Balancing work and prayer:

The CatholicTV Network

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