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Summary: Among the religious there is often a tendency toward long prayers, particularly in public. Too often people measure prayer by its fluency and length, thinking that length means devotion.

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Introduction

A. Brother Dave Said that some people believe that prayer ain’t nowhere and meditation is a stroke. But, beloved, prayer is asking for it and meditation is waiting.

1. Turn to Ecclesiastes 5:2

B. Among the religious there is often a tendency toward long prayers, particularly in public.

1. Too often people measure prayer by its fluency and length, thinking that length means devotion.

2. But Ecclesiastes 5:2 says

Ecclesiastes 5:2 (NKJV)

Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.

a. Now lets examine our Matthew passage

Matthew 6:7-8 (NKJV)

"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. {8} "Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him

3. Christ puts the matter very simply, yet strongly: "When you pray," follow three great rules.

a. Rule 1: do not use empty repetition (v.7)

b. Rule 2: do not speak much (v.7)

c. Rule 3: trust God (v.8)

II. Body

A. Rule 1: do not use empty repetition

Matthew 6:7 (NKJV)

"And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen

1. The first great rule of prayer is striking, do not use empty repetition

a. There are several things that lend themselves to empty repetition

(1) Memorized prayer: just saying the words of a form prayer, for example, the Lord's prayer

(a) Now, there is nothing wrong with praying a memorized prayer, but it should be prayed through and not just repeated with no thought behind the words

(2) Written, well-worded prayers: thinking that what we say is so expressive and so well worded, it is bound to carry weight with God

(a) The words may be descriptive and beautifully arranged, but the heart must be offering the prayer, not the mind and ego

(b) Such prayer is empty repetition.

(3) Ritual prayer: saying the same prayer at the same time on the same occasion, over and over again

(a) This can soon become empty repetition

(4) Formal worship: praying in the same way on a rigid schedule can lead to praying by habit with little or no meaning to it, that is it stops being part of conscience thought

(5) Thoughtless prayer: speaking words while our minds are wandering

(a) Being tired is no excuse

(b) It is better not to pray than to pray insincerely

(6) Religious words and phrases: using certain words or phrases over and over in prayer, just because they are religious sounding

(a) Compare using such words over and over as mercy, grace, I thank thee O God, in Jesus' name

i) Habitual references to God: using such empty repetition as "Lord this," and "Lord that," and "Lord here," and "Lord there," and "Lord...," "Lord...," "Lord...."

ii) How little thought is really given to approaching Him whose name is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

2. There are several things that will keep us from using empty repetition in prayer

a. A genuine heart: really knowing God personally and having a moment by moment fellowship with Him all day long

b. Thought and concentration: really focusing upon what we are saying.

c. Desire for fellowship with God: praying sincerely, really meaning it

d. Preparation: preparing ourselves for prayer by first meditating in God's Word

3. Notice something of extreme importance in discussing "vain repetition."

a. Christ does not say repetition in prayer is wrong

b. It is not wrong

(1) Turn to Matthew 26:44

c. What is wrong is vain, empty, meaningless, foolish repetition. Christ Himself used repetition in prayer

Matthew 26:44 (NKJV)

So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words

d. In Daniel 9:18 - 19, the man Daniel used repetition

Daniel 9:18-19 (NKJV)

"O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. {19} "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.

4. Note six lessons

a. First, there is one major problem with the praying of believers: they do not pray enough

(1) They do not take enough time to pray and to pray in earnest

(2) There is one major problem when believers do pray: prayer is often vain, empty, thoughtless, meaningless, and repetitive

(3) Too often a believer prays and does not concentrate

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