Genuine Prayer


                “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.  Therefore do not be like them.  For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Mathew 6: 7-8.)             


                By the first century, the repetitious prayer so common to the heathen nations surrounding Israel had infiltrated the Jewish ranks.  By repeating the same prayer many times in one sitting, they believed God was more inclined to listen and respond (in their estimation God was hard of hearing.)  To the unwise, the blessings of God were not just gifts received from above, but wages earned from below.  The quantity of prayer soon replaced the quality of prayer.  As repetition increased, genuine belief decreased; as religious practice became the focus, true expression of faith began to whither [Note:  Jesus was not referring to daily prayer.  He specifically commanded that his followers persist in petitioning God for their daily needs.  Ex., to pray for a wife or husband daily is good.  What is not good, is to sit down and petition God 30 times in one day (he hears the first request.)]

                In the Catholic Church, the members confess their sins to a priest, and the priest gives them an assigned act of penance (or repentance.)  Repentant acts are considered payment for the wrongs done. Commonly, many priests sentence the sinner to a few minutes of repetitious prayer (the amount varies based upon the severity of the sin.)  For example, if a man confesses to the act of adultery, he might be commanded to say 50 hail Maries (a short prayer lifting up the Virgin Mary.)  And again one week later, the adulterer returns after committing adultery again; and again he is sentenced to 50 hail Maries.  For three years, the man returns, until finally his wife has left him and his marriage is destroyed.  The man was allowed to believe that God’s forgiveness could be attained through ritualistic repetitive prayer; forgiveness however is only bestowed upon those who truly repent; had the man truly felt shame and guilt in his heart he would have confessed his sin and discontinued it.  The religious system fails anyone who is taught that repetitious prayer can take the place of true genuine repentance (Note:  This does not mean that Catholicism is evil; it is simply one practice in Christianity that can be used as an illustration.  There are many faithful believers in the Catholic Church.)

                Rituals and traditions have infiltrated the body of Christ.  Genuine faith has been crushed beneath the weight of religion.  Long repetitious prayers are wasted on God.  And not only are they wasted, they obstruct true faith and prohibit authenticity.  Draw near to Him with your heart, not just your posture; may your words be few, and may your requests be genuine and congruent with the perfect will of our loving God and Father.

                “Lord Heavenly Father we come before You today and thank You for all that You have done for us; please strengthen us and make us more genuine believers.  May we not fall victim to the trappings of tradition, but instead, be reborn in the newness of Your Spirit.  Hear our prayers Father.  We love You, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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