Matthew 6:7 says this:
“And when you are praying, do not use thoughtless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.”
I wanted to take this verse by verse over the next section because we get into the Lord’s Prayer which is obviously so very important in all of this.
It’s not just Christians who pray. Most religions include something akin to prayer, whether that means communicating with a deity, spirits, ancestors, or angels. Others involve meditations or chants which are inwardly focused. Most Gentiles in the first century participated in pagan idol worship; this involved repetitive chanting of words and phrases. Some thought they would be heard and receive their requests for repeating their prayer an excessive number of times in a row.
It’s possible some Jewish people in Jesus’ era had taken on those superstitions and prayed in repetitive, mechanical ways. Even today, there is temptation to simply repeat words and call it “prayer.” Or, to insist on using only certain phrases, languages, or approved expressions when communicating with God. This does not mean all repeated words or pre-written prayers are wrong. It means that words, in and of themselves, are not the point of prayer (Romans 8:26). If we’re not sincerely communicating with God, from our hearts, then we’re not praying, in a godly sense. This is in keeping with Jesus’ teaching that motives matter as much as actions (Matthew 5:20; 6:1).
The Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus will soon present as a model (Matthew 6:9–13), is often misused, in an example of what Jesus is warning about. Praying those exact words is not wrong—at all—but that arrangement has no special power. Prayer is not a magical incantation. The words we pray should be expressions of our hearts, not mechanical echoes.
Jesus will specifically point out (Matthew 6:8) that God doesn’t give points for mindless repetition. He doesn’t need to hear our words repeated over and over to understand the message. He gets it the first time
So this sentence is what struck me the most in this particular explanation.
If we’re not sincerely communicating with God, from our hearts, then we’re not praying, in a godly sense.
More conviction in the midst of this Sermon that Jesus gives. Our hearts need to pray. We need to pray from our hearts and sincerely believe what we are praying. I know that we are just coming off a very long study on prayer and how to pray. This is crucial in it all. Words are words. They don’t mean much in and of themselves….it’s when they are delivered with heart, with passion, with conviction, with hope, with belief, that they start to turn into more than words. They turn into action.