Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Matthew 6:7

This is a verse I found the same night I found Dr. Gabriel's book, after saying that prayer (with "God" in place of "Allah"). I just opened my Bible and this is what I found:

Matthew 6:7 (KJV) "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen (NIV says "hypocrites") do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."

We all know that Muslims pray five times per day. I've also learned that additional prayers (in your own words) are not prohibited, but aren't really encouraged, either. So how is this a personal relationship with God? I've heard converts give that as one reason for converting, but they were mostly disillusioned Catholics who grew tired of confession and "needing someone to intercede with God". I can see how you wouldn't feel like God was accessible to the average person under those circumstances.

I'll go on about that in my next post. : ) I'm wordy today.


  1. Those are interesting points. I am enjoying your theological thinkings. :)

  2. Oh, yeah? : ) Glad to know you like my ramblings.

  3. I always wondered what type of prayers Jesus was referring to. Why? The Jews in his day used liturgical prayer that are quite similar to Muslim salah. So I am not sure whether he was discouraging this type of prayer in general, or if he was referring to another type of practice. I will look at a commentary on Matthew that I have and let you know if it has any useful insights.

  4. You actually are encouraged to do your own prayers as well as other supplications. Both are referred to as Du'a. The five prayers are to remind you of God's constant presence in your life. It is also used by many as a form of meditation, a way of bringing you back to what is important throughout the day.

    I really don't think this is what Christ was referring to...I suppose if you repeated them everyday without considering what they mean they could fall into this catigory. But you could also say that the Christians that say the Hail Mary and Our Father everyday fall under repetitive prayer too ( I do this, I don't feel repetitive)...

    I guess we need a better definition....to the student bible!

  5. I always thought that the 'vain repetitions' were meant to cover prayers that you said to be seen praying, if you get what I mean. If you don't *mean* the prayer, no matter how many times you repeat it, in whatever faith it is, it's going to be in vain.

  6. Well, the problem I have with Islamic salat is that one says more than one rakat every time. That would seem to me to be what is covered by Matthew 6:7. I would also view saying the Rosary in the same way. I mean, I can see repeating the recitation of a prayer if one feels that one lost one's concentration during the prayer and wishes to be more fully conscious of the meaning the next time around. But that's a little different than saying 4 rakat just because one is 'supposed to', or 5 Hail Mary's and an Our Father because 'that's how it's done'. So when I recite my prayers, I am careful not to repeat them. Nor do I make up a missed prayer time by repeating the prayers. That is why it is so important not to miss a prayer time if you are a Christian and you want to pray in this way - you can't make it up later!

  7. I can't speak for Islamic prayers, but people use the rosary as almost meditative devices. It's not about the Hail Mary's or even the Our Father's, but rather the prayer that you're saying, above and beyond those - the reason for saying the rosary, not the wording. The rosary is a way to take your mind away from the world and place it in a proper, spiritual frame for worshipping God.

    *hand wavey* Clearly, I don't see the rosary (which is not, by the way, a *required* element of Catholicism - it's a devotion people *can* take up, they don't *have* to) as vain repetition, or even the Islamic salat.

    However, taken to it's extreme, you'd never be able to use even the same wording for a prayer twice. After all, divided by seconds, minutes or hours, even days or months, you'd still just be repeating yourself.

  8. I agree with Amber about the meditation aspect of repetition - I don't think it's "vain" repetition when it's like that. It all depends what's in your mind and heart. :)

  9. So, I'm back. I figure since my paper is already late (by 1 hour), I might as well just turn it in tomorrow, edited (now I have it fully done, just need to polish it). So I've come back to your site because I'm very intrigued =)

    The thing with our salaah is that we have to have khushoo (tranquility, concentration) during prayer. We shouldn't just mindlessly recite some verses we had memorized while thinking about other things. Rather, we should contemplate upon our prayer. Salaah is really just us praising God throughout the entire thing. If you contemplate on what you are saying, then it is very emaan (faith) lifting/strengthening and brings us closer to God.

    As for our OWN (own words, in whatever language) with God, it's actually encouraged. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) often used to say "Oh Allaah [insert du3aa]".

    Here's a link for some prescribed du3aas to make: http://makedua.com/ [ones that have been confirmed to have been said by the Prophet pbuh]