What does Matthew mean when he says, "meaningless repetition"?


Matthew 6:7

NKJV - 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.

Clarify Share Report Asked April 27 2021 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
It might seem "natural" on a human level to think that the more often we repeat something (such as a request), or "remind" the party to whom we are directing the request about it, then the more likely it would be that the request would be granted.

However (and as Jesus indicated to his listeners in the larger passage containing the verse cited in the question), God is omniscient. He knows our thoughts (including our needs and desires) even before we express them in words. It is therefore not necessary when praying to Him to repeat requests that we make of Him over and over, especially if we do so in the belief that such repetition will somehow give our request greater "weight" with Him, or if we engage in such repetition as a part of some established human "ritual". Such "rote" repetition adds nothing to the "strength" of our prayer requests. 

Instead, Jesus then spoke the words of what we now call the Lord's Prayer as a model or example of the type of simple, non-repetitive (yet comprehensive) wording that believers should use in presenting their own prayers to God.

April 28 2021 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
Great question! How to avoid "meaningless repetition"? Don't pray conspicuously because those who do enjoy being seen as they pray. They have that reward now but not in heaven later. Endless babbling of pagans is seen in 1 Kings 18:26-29. 

"They called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. 'O Baal, answer us!' they shouted."

Prayers should be expressed simply (Matthew 6:7-8 See also Ecclesiastes 5:1-3; Luke 18:9-14) and should not be ostentatious (Matthew 6:5-6 See also Matt 14:23 pp Mark 6:46; Luke 5:16). Jesus didn't nix long prayers; He even repeated Himself in prayer at least once (Matthew 26:44).

May 07 2021 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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