Repetitious Prayer and the Rosary


Q. Isn’t the Rosary condemned by Jesus in Matthew 6:7?

Matthew 6:7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words

A. Jesus is not condemning all repeated prayer. If He was, we would be left with no idea how many times any prayer could be repeated. Never? Once? Twice? Three times? Once a day? Once a year? Once a lifetime? Twice…etc. How exactly could we obey Jesus IF in this verse He WAS condemning ALL repeated prayer? We have no concrete direction.

After all, when asked by the disciples about how to pray Jesus gave them a prayer without any stipulations to say it only one time, or once a day, or once year. And we know that from the earliest times this prayer was used in our Christian worship. And let me remind you that this was the ONLY Christian Church in existence.

Also, again, in Matthew (same author as above)

Matthew 26: 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” 42 He went away a SECOND time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44So he left them and went away once more and prayed the THIRD time, saying the same thing.

So, Jesus Himself prayed exactly the same prayer three times in a short time. If the author had meant to explain in 6:7 that all repetitious prayer was pagan then how to explain Jesus’ example here? I think it is safe to say that repeating prayers is not prohibited. What Jesus meant in Mt. 6:7 was to teach against the pagan practice and idea that the more you repeat a prayer the more likely you are to get what you want from the gods.

Besides, what is being missed is that the rosary is primarily a prayer of meditation on the Life of Christ with the Hail Mary prayers used to both ask for Mary’s intercession and to time the length of the meditation on each mystery or scene in the Life of Christ.

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13 Responses

  1. Thank you for the good post. I also find Psalm 136 helpful when explaining that not all repetition is vain. The short psalm says “His love endures forever” 26 times in its 26 verses. Repetition often serves as emphasis — not vanity — when done like the angels around God’s throne: “Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come'” (Rev. 4:8).

  2. Thanks Darren. Those are two great verses.

  3. My Dear Beloved Brothers & Sisters In Jesus Christ,
    As a True Christian Believer in Jesus Christ, I want to tell to all my beloved Christians,
    1.Only Roman Catholics say the rosary and worship Mary. And it is not a Christian Prayer,
    2.Christianity is based on Bible not on human teachings, Traditions, Cultures etc.
    When we call our selves Christian, we must follow the teaching of the Word of GOD (Bible).
    Word of God (The Bible) says in the book of 1Corinthians 10:20 “No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to GOD and I do not want you to be participants with demons”.
    Under the name of Religion many are misled and being deceived by false teachings, Idol worship, false belief, dragging the cultures, traditions into the Church and labeled it etc. etc.

    In the Bible The Lord says in book of Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge ..
    Read the Bible “You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free”.

    I want to tell you little about the rosary …
    All of these Ideas about praying to Mary are closely connected with the instrument called the rosary. It consist of a chain with fifteen sets of small beads, each set marked a large bead. The ends of this chain are joined by a medal bearing the imprint of Mary. From this hangs a short chain at the end of which is a crucifix. The beads on the rosary are for counting prayers-prayers that are repeated over and over. Though this instrument is widely used within the Roman Catholic Churches, it is clearly not of Christian origin. It has been known in many countries.
    “The Catholic Encyclopedia says, In almost all countries, then, we meet with something in the nature of prayer-counters or rosary beads.” It goes on to cite number of examples, including a sculpture of ancient Nineveh, mentioned by Layard, of two winged females praying before a sacred tree, each holding a rosary, for centuries, among the Mohammedans, a bead-string consisting of 33, 66 or 99 beads used for counting the name of Allah. Marco polo in the 13th century was surprised to find the king of Malabar using a rosary of precious stones to count his prayers.
    St. Francis Xavier and his companions were equally astonished to see that rosaries were universally familiar to the Buddhist of Japan, among the Phoenicians a circle of beads resembling a rosary was used in the worship of Astarte, the mother goddess, about 800B.C. This rosary is seen on some early Phoenicians coins. The Brahmins have from early times used rosaries with tens and hundreds of beads. The worshipers of Vishnu give their children rosaries of 108 beads. A similar rosary is used by millions of Buddhist in India and Tibet. The worshiper of Shiva uses a rosary upon which he repeats, if possible all the 1.008 names of his gods.
    Beads for the counting of prayers were known in Asiatic Greece. Such was the purpose according to Hislop for the necklace seen on the statute of Diana. He also points out that in Rome certain necklaces worn by woman were for counting remembering prayers the monile meaning “remembrance”.
    The most often repeated prayer and the main prayer of the rosary is the “Hail Mary” which is as follows “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou among woman, and blessed in the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
    Holy Mary mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen”.
    The Catholic Encyclopedia says, “There is little or no trace of the Hail Mary as an accepted devotional formula before about 1050”. The complete rosary involves repeating the Hail Mary 53 times, the Lords Prayer 6 times, 5Mysteries, 5 Meditations on the Mysteries, 5 Glory Be’s and Apostles Creed.
    Notice that the prayer to Mary, the Hail Mary, is repeated almost 9times as often as the Lords Prayer!
    Is a prayer composed by men and directed to Mary nine times as important or effective as the prayer taught by Jesus and directed to God?
    Those who worshipped the goddess Diana repeated religious phrase over and over …
    “All with one voice about the space of two hours cried out Great is Diana of Ephesians” (Acts 19:34). Jesus Spoke of repetitious prayer as being a practice of the heathen. “When ye pray,” He said “use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him”.( Mathew 6:7-13). In this passage, Jesus plainly told his followers NOT to pray a little prayer over and over. It is significant to notice that it was right after giving this warning, in the very next verse, that He said, “After this manner therefore pray ye, Our Father which art in heaven …” and gave the disciples what we refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer”. Jesus gave this prayer as an opposite to the heathen type of prayer. Yet Roman Catholics are taught to pray this prayer over and over, If this prayer was not to be repeated over and over, how much less a little man-made prayer to Mary!
    It seems to us that memorizing prayers, than repeating them over and over while counting rosary beads, could easily become more of a “memory test” than spontaneous expression of prayer from the heart.

    True Christianity teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ and He alone is The way, The Truth and The Life; that He alone, of all the earth’s creatures, has ever lived a life that was never stained with sin; and He is to be Worshipped
    Believe in Jesus Christ and be Saved.
    Do Not Be Deceived.
    God Bless You
    In His mission
    Bro. Alex Dhanvate.
    Sydney

  4. Great work, the whole catholic church and it people are lost, for not studying the word of truth, Luke 11:V1, they ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. not a prayer to repeat, the Lord’s Prayer is a basic outline for praying.
    God bless you.
    Norman

  5. Lost… hmmmmmm I sure spend alot of time studying the word, but its always nice to hear from my fellow Christian that I am going to hell. I bet you put a big smile on Gods face with words like that 🙂

  6. Sweet post Alex!

    What I would like to know is this; ‘bfhu’ says:
    “Matthew 6:7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words”
    A. Jesus is not condemning all repeated prayer. If He was, we would be left with no idea how many times any prayer could be repeated. Never? Once? Twice? Three times? Once a day? Once a year? Once a lifetime? Twice…etc. How exactly could we obey Jesus IF in this verse He WAS condemning ALL repeated prayer? We have no concrete direction.”
    Why do you read the verses then fail to hear what it is saying?

    Jesus said it, plain and simple, don’t keep babbling. I believe you have missed the point of the verse. Jesus says don’t do it. It seems like you have replied with ‘how much should we not do it?’. It wasn’t up for discussion or to be watered down or interpreted to mean that as long as we are praying to Him, it’s alright, or anything else. The Bible means what it says and says what it means. It is not up for interpretation or argument. If it says that Jesus rose from the dead then jesus rose from the dead and if it says that God made the world in six days then rested then He made the world in six days then rested. Don’t babble means don’t babble.

    Another thing said is “…we would have no idea how many times a prayer could be repeated.” I would surely say none, as Jesus says not to do it, however, Jesus asks for the same thing thrice in Matthew 26. Let me ask you this though: Why are you repeating the prayer? So much of what we do and whether or not it is right in God’s eyes comes down to the reason we are doing it. Why do Catholics repeat the rosary? Is it becasue they are told to? Because their parents did? Because they are devoting time to God? Because it will get them to heaven? Because it is a tradition? Becasue they do not know what else to pray? saying the rosary is one way people try to attain their righteousness by doing good works, which we know is impossible, as accepting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour is the only way we can get to heaven. I would say that Jesus asked the Father to take the cup from Him thrice becasue He meant it thrice over.
    It is not right to repeat the prayers of the rosary, as (1) it is indeed a repetitious prayer which does not please God, (2) The ‘Hail Mary’ is a violation of the second commandment not to worship any other gods but the one true God. Saying “Hail Mary” is worshipping her, which is most definitely not right. (3) The rosary is an extended prayer to Mary. Jesus says that He is the only way to get to the Father. We do not need any intermediary figure to ask God things for us, we are “the righteousness of God in Christ” – we can do that for ourselves. (4) If the reason for saying the rosary is because you do not know what else to say, say the Lord’s Prayer! It is a prayer to God and was given as an example of how we should pray:
    Our father who art in heaven – acknowledge God
    Hallowed be your name – worship to God
    Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven – affirmation/a prayer that God’s will comes before all else. Note:This comes before our requests.
    Give us this day our daily bread – Ask God to provide
    Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us – forgive us, help us also to forgive
    Save us from the trial and deliver us from evil – ne our protector. Here’s another one of you need help thinking of what to pray about: Everything
    A-affirmation
    C-confession
    T-thanksgiving
    S-supplementation

    A point on saying prayer and praying: Are these things the same? No. Saying prayers is saying words pre-written that do not come from your heart, as they were written by another person. Praying is taking it all off, down to the core. Taking it all before God, saying what is on your heart, being real before Him. It may not be as grand or well put together as the rehearsed written prayers, but it is real, and that is what God wants. He wants all of you, not just the part that you think is nice enough for Him. It may be rotten, it might mbe ugly, but then He can help you. If you don’t take those ugly places of your heart to Him, they sure don’t get any more attractive. Be real, be sincere, and let it come from you, not someone else.

    I really hope this gets you thinking about what you do and why you do it. ‘Why’ can so often be more important than ‘What”. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says to “examine yourselves.” Why do you do what you do? I am always asking myself that, becasue event hat can reveal to myself mindsets and thoughts that I hadn’t even noticed myself. Why do I ask God to painfully reveal and find the ugly parts of my heart? So they can be made clean by Him.

    I pray that you will seek God about this and hear His voice clearly. I hope you learn more and understand more.

    God bless,
    Laura.

    • Laura, there are so many things that you are WAYYYY off on, I don’t have time to go into them all right now, but one thing:

      “A point on saying prayer and praying: Are these things the same? No. Saying prayers is saying words pre-written that do not come from your heart, as they were written by another person. Praying is taking it all off, down to the core. Taking it all before God, saying what is on your heart, being real before Him. It may not be as grand or well put together as the rehearsed written prayers, but it is real, and that is what God wants. He wants all of you, not just the part that you think is nice enough for Him. It may be rotten, it might mbe ugly, but then He can help you. If you don’t take those ugly places of your heart to Him, they sure don’t get any more attractive. Be real, be sincere, and let it come from you, not someone else.”

      What makes you think that Catholics don’t pray like this? I pray what is on my heart everyday. The Lord’s prayer is a pre written prayer.

  7. God bless you Pam for your love and commitment to the Lord. You have to read the same posts over and over from people who are so completely ignorant of the Catholic faith and you handle it with the covering of the holy spirit. Bless you and keep you as you continue to witness.

    • Absolutely. I have delt with that. My girls dad has been diagnosed with it. I am praying for the mind of Christ for him, healthy and well. Complete and total healing for him and for you and your family as walk with him. Happy holidays to you and yours! Give me a holler if you ever make it to Texas! 🙂

  8. up north! Amarillo! 🙂

  9. Is saying the Rosary Prayer important to you? If so, please take part in this anonymous online research study to provide more understanding about the place of the Rosary Prayer in Catholics’ lives. This doctoral research is intended to provide information that can help mental health professionals to better serve their Catholic clients. Thank you for your help. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/rosaryprayer

  10. I was just wondering how Mary could possibly make intercession for us when 2 Timothy 2:5 clearly states that there is ONE person who makes intercession for us before God…. Jesus Christ.

  11. Dear Charlotte,
    I think you meant first Timothy 2. It says:

    1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men.

    If you note in v. 1 St. Paul urges “intercession” be made for everyone. He is addressing the faithful and urging them to make requests, prayers and intercession for everyone etc. But there is only one God and one Mediator between God and Man, Jesus. I can understand your confusion but if the faithful were not supposed to pray for one another because of I Tim 2:5 then that would contradict other scripture like the verse in this very same chapter that urges us to intercede for everyone. And:

    James 5:16
    Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

    Christ’s mediation of salvation to man is unique. But we can all pray for one another and Mary and the Saints. are alive, interested in helping us all as a part of the living Body of Christ.

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