Matthew 6:7-8

Again, we are crawling though this chapter because it changes thematically. Again, I like this because I feel like it is packing a lot of information into a small space. Still, we are wordy on things we should do, but little explanation is given besides, “I said so” which does not help someone who’s a deep thinker.

The first line tells us that when praying, we should not use “vain repetitions”. OK I’m taking that to mean that when we pray, we should not repeat ourselves. That is, unless there is some special definition of the word “repetitions” that I don’t know about. That means, we should not recite a mantra or even a rosary because that repeats the same prayer over and over again. He does not specify the number of repetitions. Most religious texts have at least a little repetition in them for many reasons. I’m wondering if the call and response is banned by this passage as the same response is prayed a few times. This is starting me thinking that any kind of prayer is open to question. While I’m glad to be challenge in my behavior. Christ was known for challenging his followers to radically question their lives, I wish this were more clear as to what “repetitions” means.

Perhaps the next line will tell us. Alas, it just tells us not to be like “them” which in this case is “heathen”. I don’t know what heathen means. I thought it meant non-Christian, but it can’t because when Christ was around there were no Christians yet. I’m guessing he means non-Jewish person. Well, that’s a lot of help. I don’t have the honor of being Jewish. So I’m stuck here as a heathen. However, I pray is going to be how a heathen prays because that’s what I am. This makes me feel better about myself.

Next is says that my father knows what I need before I ask him. YES! Exactly. Even as a child, I knew this. It was a basic understanding of omniscience. If God is omniscient why pray for things? I always thought that praying for something was stupid in so many ways. It’s self-centered. It’s presumptuous. We don’t know God’s plan so why should we try to change it just for our own limited view?

So we don’t repeat ourselves when we pray, and we don’t ask for anything. At this point, I feel like the tires are starting to make some traction. I’ll let that little “heathen” slur slide even. So how do we pray? Let’s see next time if he tells us.


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