God gives us a lot of instruction in scripture about how to pray. He also gives us instruction in how NOT to pray. Matthew 6:7 says; “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.” What can we take from this for our modern day prayer life? Are vain repetitions still possible today?
I use to own a Tibetan Spaniel, a little dog that originally lived and was bred in Tibetan monasteries. In addition to sitting on the high monastery walls watching for travelers, they were trained to run the prayer wheels for the monks. Supposedly, placing written prayers inside the wheel and then spinning it as constantly and as fast as possible produced greater effectiveness. How convenient to have a dog do your praying for you!
If you don’t have prayer wheels (I certainly hope not) are there any other “vain repetitions” creeping into your prayer life? There might be if your prayers are more rote than relationship. God is interested in the things on our heart, not the repeating of lists or the duplication of prayers. Even if we stumble around and lack eloquence; the Lord prefers that over insincere blabber.
The next time you get half way through a prayer and can’t even remember what you said start again with words that are your own. Rather say it once with honesty than over and over mindlessly. Since prayer can be so effective, why pray in vain?