645. Repetitions in Prayer

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Matthew 6:77But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (Matthew 6:7). When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Some of the rabbis in our Lord’s time had taught that oft-repeated prayers were of certain efficacy, thus falling into an imitation of the heathen, who have ever been noted for unmeaning repetitions. When Elijah challenged the worshipers of Baal, they called on their god “from morning even unto noon, saying, O Baal, hear us” (1 Kings 18:2626And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. (1 Kings 18:26)). When Paul excited the rage of Demetrius, who in turn aroused the mob at Ephesus, the angry crowd “all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians” (Acts 19:3434But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. (Acts 19:34)). It would seem as if the further men become removed from true spiritual worship the greater estimate they put on oft-repeated forms. The Mohammedans equal the heathen in this respect. After the storming of Seringapatam, the body of Tippoo Sahib was found among the slain and in his pocket was a book of devotion with various forms of prayer, and among them the following: “O God, O God, O God, O God! O Lord, O Lord, O Lord, O Lord, O Living, O Immortal! O Living, O Immortal! O Living, O Immortal! O Living, O Immortal! O Creator of the heavens and the earth, O thou who art endowed with majesty and authority! O wonderful,” etc. (Burder, Oriental Customs No. 931).
The Hindus consider the repetition of the name of a god an act of worship. They say the name of God is like fire, through which all sins are consumed; hence the repetition of the names of their deities is a common practice. According to Ward, they even have rosaries, the beads of which they count off in order to facilitate these repetitions. They imagine that by this easy process they can obtain anything they desire.