3.14.21 – Daily Dose of Worship. A study on Matthew. Part 42. Words.

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.

So….

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.

10 Comments

  1. Suzanne on March 14, 2021 at 6:14 am

    The words in the verse ‘thoughtless repetition’ remind me of reciting the times tables. Mindless and mechanical…just get the information glued in the brain. Rote memory is good for learning Math facts but prayer is more heartfelt, it is fluid, it is conversational.

    I have been meditating joy, reading scriptures, making a deliberate choice to put joy above the circumstance, to endure with joy.
    I found this definition of rote

    2: mechanical or unthinking routine or repetition//
    a joyless sense of order, rote, and commercial hustle
    — L. L. King

    joyless or filled with joy? easy choice

    We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, Col 1:11

    • Diane J on March 14, 2021 at 8:58 am

      Another interpretation of actions speak louder than words God can see Your Heart Thank You Dave another good one food for thought have a Blessed Sunday

      • Dave Pettigrew on March 16, 2021 at 11:35 am

        Thanks Diane. God can indeed see our hearts, in the good, bad, ugly and everything in between….yikes.

  2. Patti S on March 14, 2021 at 8:16 am

    Beautifully written.
    And I loved reading your comment, Suzanne.

    What stood out for me was,
    ‘Our hearts need to pray. We need to pray from our hearts….’

    Our hearts do cry out for God. We are born to be in communion with Him.
    So many people are lost trying to fill this space with idol worship.

    Because of Him

  3. Jonathan B on March 14, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    From time to time I will repeat a prayer, but I know that it is in his time that it will be answered. I also get tugs on my heart and it is amazing when I stop and listen what is being said to me. I will pray on what I’ve heard and try to act on it. Lately I have been trying to figure out what path I will take when I get going with my new career. I know God is speaking to me and I’m trying to listen fully to him and what he has for me. I pray on it and know the right choice will come. Thanks Dave for these devos. They are helpful and God fed.

    • Dave Pettigrew on March 16, 2021 at 11:34 am

      Thanks Jonathan. Good thoughts here. You’re very welcome for the devos….They are helping me too!

  4. Peggy F on March 14, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    Prayer, talking to God ! Some of us were taught catechism as children, and the drilling of laws
    and obligations began and for some of us started us on a ” performance road”, to be accepted,
    to be loved. But Jesus…………..Oh then everything changed…….the revelation of the ” Love of Jesus” and yes, it was a revelation ………..to know that God loved us so much, He gave His one and only Son to die for us, to take away all our sins and jumping over to Romans, He did all this while we were yet sinners………..oh the Love of Jesus………not sure why my mind went in this direction, but I do know, that for me my prayer time always begins with thanksgiving………thanksgiving for His love…………and from there the list of all I have to be thankful for doesn’t end…….and that thanksgiving always leads to praise……..when Jesus first came to me………..I had to Learn……to be thankful…….by obeying His word…….Oh so many verses extolling us to give thanks…….I was taught to ” worry” and taught very well………but the Holy Spirit changed that and draws us in…………..and its all by His grace and mercy and love………..the act of prayer…….is only by His grace and mercy and love. to quote a book title of an author whose books changed my life, Merlin R. Carothers, there is Power In Praise, and going back to his first book ” Prison To Praise”. and always Philippians 4:4-7 ” Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard, your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit He shows us exactly how to pray, what to pray for , and then shows us the results of those prayers……..” the peace of God” , surpassing all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds………..and the scriptures are so many……………….

    • Peggy F on March 14, 2021 at 5:45 pm

      And may I just share a short prayer from another devotional from today, called Praying Grace, and this prayer just fits today’s thoughts and readings: Heavenly Father, I cease from my futile labors. I no longer strive to earn what I cannot possible earn, to merit what I will never deserve. Instead, I rejoice and rest in my connection to You through Your Son. He is the true vine, and I am a connected branch I declare today that in Jesus, Your Love, Your power, Your goodness, and Your empowering grace all flow through me…………………………….I am un-offendable, patient and full of grace for others. For me every day is a day of sabbath rest. Amen

  5. Sherri H on March 14, 2021 at 4:18 pm

    I always felt inadequate in praying, I would hear prayers that were elaborate and seemed well versed etc til Jesus put on my heart that its not about the length or words you say but what comes from the heart, my words would get all jumbled and HE said just speak from your heart–definitely helped me in praying out loud with a group.

    • Suzanne on March 14, 2021 at 5:32 pm

      LOL Sheri…..I hear ya! I am in a Bible study…some of us have an ongoing messenger…during the study we do a round table…one person said, in the text, she feels caught off guard…another said she can’t sort out her thoughts…I said I get nervous and forget words…it was funny…we judged ourselves so harshly yet, thought everyone else does great….truth, it is from the heart and once we realize the only audience is Jesus we can get over ourselves. Oh, and if I have to speak in front of people, I take my glasses off…no sight no fear 🙂

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