Should we refrain from long-winded prayers?


Mark 12:40

ESV - 40 Who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.

Clarify Share Report Asked July 28 2019 A730562e ef16 453c 9e8e 45762b53bf8d Fiona Allday

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
To me, the long prayers to which Jesus was referring in the question were public prayers that could be seen or heard by other people, in order that those saying the prayers might be exalted or praised for their "piety" by those who observed them. The wrongfulness of the self-motivated nature of such prayers was only further compounded (as Jesus noted) by the hypocritical actions of those who offered them. 

The parallel passage in Matthew (Matthew 23:1-7) -- although it does not mention the offering of long prayers -- specifically emphasizes the desire of the scribes and Pharisees for public notice, with Jesus saying, "They do all their deeds to be seen by men."

Any prayer that a Christian offers to God in sincerity and humility (the quality that the prayers of the scribes and Pharisees lacked) is acceptable to Him, regardless of its length, or whether it is done publicly or privately. If the Christian feels moved to make a lengthy prayer for the purpose of fully pouring out his or her heart before God, I would say that this would not be an impediment to the efficacy of the prayer, or something that, just because of its length or its setting, God would not look upon with favor. 

However, at the same time, Jesus also made a point of saying (just before giving us the words of what we call the Lord's Prayer) that our heavenly Father knows what we need even before we pray (Matthew 6:8), so that it is not necessary, from the standpoint of the effectiveness of a petition to God for an answer to a need or concern, for the Christian to repeat the same request over and over (either in a single prayer, or in multiple prayers over a period of time), even if that repetition is sincere and heartfelt.

July 28 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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