Matthew 6:7
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

New Living Translation
"When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.

English Standard Version
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

Berean Study Bible
And when you pray, do not babble on like pagans, for they think that by their many words they will be heard.

Berean Literal Bible
And praying, do not use vain repetitions like the pagans, for they think that in their many words they will be heard.

New American Standard Bible
"And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.

King James Bible
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
When you pray, don't babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they'll be heard for their many words.

International Standard Version
"When you are praying, don't say meaningless things like the unbelievers do, because they think they will be heard by being so wordy.

NET Bible
When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard.

New Heart English Bible
And in praying, do not use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And whenever you are praying, you shall not be verbose like the heathen, for they think that they are heard by speaking much

GOD'S WORD® Translation
"When you pray, don't ramble like heathens who think they'll be heard if they talk a lot.

New American Standard 1977
“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.

Jubilee Bible 2000
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions as the worldly do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

King James 2000 Bible
But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

American King James Version
But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

American Standard Version
And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard.

Darby Bible Translation
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as those who are of the nations: for they think they shall be heard through their much speaking.

English Revised Version
And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Webster's Bible Translation
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Weymouth New Testament
"And when praying, do not use needless repetitions as the Gentiles do, for they expect to be listened to because of their multitude of words.

World English Bible
In praying, don't use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking.

Young's Literal Translation
'And -- praying -- ye may not use vain repetitions like the nations, for they think that in their much speaking they shall be heard,
Study Bible
The Lord's Prayer
6But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not babble on like pagans, for they think that by their many words they will be heard. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.…
Cross References
1 Kings 18:26
Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, "O Baal, answer us." But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made.

Ecclesiastes 5:2
Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.
Treasury of Scripture

But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

use.

1 Kings 18:26-29 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed …

Ecclesiastes 5:2,3,7 Be not rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter …

Acts 19:34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the …

repetitions.

Matthew 26:39,42,44 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, …

1 Kings 8:26-54 And now, O God of Israel, let your word, I pray you, be verified, …

Daniel 9:18,19 O my God, incline your ear, and hear; open your eyes, and behold …

the heathen.

Matthew 6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly …

Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church: but …

(7) Use not vain repetitions.--The Greek word has a force but feebly rendered in the English. Formed from a word which reproduces the repeated attempts of the stammerer to clothe his thoughts in words, it might be almost rendered, "Do not stutter out your prayers, do not babble them over." The words describe only too faithfully the act of prayer when it becomes mechanical. The devotion of the rosary, in which every bead is connected with a Pater Noster or an Ave Maria, does but reproduce the eighteen prayers of the Rabbis, which they held it to be an act of religion to repeat. On the other hand, it is clear that the law of Christ does not exclude the iteration of intense emotion. That is not a "vain repetition;" and in the great crisis of His human life our Lord Himself prayed thrice "using the same words" (Matthew 26:44). How far our use of the Lord's Prayer, or of the Kyrie Eleison of our Litanies, is open to the charge of "vain repetition" is another question. It is obvious that it may easily become so to any mechanical worshipper of the Pharisaic type; but there is, on the other side, an ever-accumulating weight of evidence from really devout souls, that they have found it helpful in sustaining the emotion without which prayer is dead.

As the heathen do.--We know too little of the details of the ritual of classical heathenism to be able to say how far the charge of vain repetition applied at this time to them. The cries of the worshippers of Baal "from morning even until noon" (1Kings 18:26), the shouts of those of Artemis at Ephesus "for the space of two hours" (Acts 19:34), may be taken as representative instances.

Their much speaking.--This thought was the root-evil of the worship of the heathen or the Pharisee. It gave to prayer a quantitative mechanical force, increased in proportion to the number of prayers offered. If fifty failed, a hundred might succeed. But this assumed that the object of prayer was to change the will of God, or to inform Him of what He did not know before, and our Lord teaches us--as, indeed, all masters of the higher life have taught--that that assumption vitiates prayer at once.

Verse 7. - But when ye pray (προσευχόμενοι δέ). The Revised Version, and in praying, shows that our Lord is only continuing the subject, and not turning to a new one, as in vers. 2, 5, 16. But while he has thus far thought of prayer as an external act, he now speaks of the substance of the prayers offered, the δέ indicating a transition to another aspect of the same subject. Use not vain repetitions; "Babble not much" (Tyndale). The word used (μὴβατταλογήσητε) is probably onomatopoeic of stuttering. The Peshito employs here the same root () as for μογιλάλος, Mark 7:32 (). But from the primary sense of stuttering, βατταλογεῖν, naturally passed to that of babbling in senseless repetitions. As the heathen do (οἱ ἐθνεικοί, Gentiles, Revised Version; Matthew 5:47, note). Thinking that the virtue lies in the mere utterance of the words. Even the Jews came perilously near this in their abundant use of synonyms and synonymous expressions in their prayers (cf. Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.'). Perhaps it was this fact that assisted the introduction of the reading "hypocrites" in B and the Old Syriac. For they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. In the continuance (ἐν) of their external action lies their hope of being fully heard (εισακουσθήσονται). But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions,.... Saying the same things over and over again,

as the Heathens do, as the worshippers of Baal, from morning till noon, 1 Kings 18:26. This our Lord observes, to dissuade from such practices, because the Gentiles, who were odious to the Jews, used them, and the Jews were guilty of the same; had they not, there would not have been any need of such advice:

for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking; as did the Jews, who, under pretence of "long prayers", devoured widows' houses; and with whom it is an axiom, that "everyone , that multiplies prayer is heard" (h); and whoever prolongs his prayer, his prayer does not return empty; and he that is long in prayer, his days are prolonged (i): and, according to their canons, every day a man ought to pray eighteen prayers. Moreover, their prayer books abound in tautologies, and in expressing the same things in different words, and by a multiplicity of them.

(h) T. Hieros. Taaniot, fol. 67. 3.((i) Zohar in Exod. fol. 104. 4. 7. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions—"Babble not" would be a better rendering, both for the form of the word—which in both languages is intended to imitate the sound—and for the sense, which expresses not so much the repetition of the same words as a senseless multiplication of them; as appears from what follows.

as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking—This method of heathen devotion is still observed by Hindu and Mohammedan devotees. With the Jews, says Lightfoot, it was a maxim, that "Every one who multiplies prayer is heard." In the Church of Rome, not only is it carried to a shameless extent, but, as Tholuck justly observes, the very prayer which our Lord gave as an antidote to vain repetitions is the most abused to this superstitious end; the number of times it is repeated counting for so much more merit. Is not this just that characteristic feature of heathen devotion which our Lord here condemns? But praying much, and using at times the same words, is not here condemned, and has the example of our Lord Himself in its favor.6:5-8 It is taken for granted that all who are disciples of Christ pray. You may as soon find a living man that does not breathe, as a living Christian that does not pray. If prayerless, then graceless. The Scribes and Pharisees were guilty of two great faults in prayer, vain-glory and vain repetitions. Verily they have their reward; if in so great a matter as is between us and God, when we are at prayer, we can look to so poor a thing as the praise of men, it is just that it should be all our reward. Yet there is not a secret, sudden breathing after God, but he observes it. It is called a reward, but it is of grace, not of debt; what merit can there be in begging? If he does not give his people what they ask, it is because he knows they do not need it, and that it is not for their good. So far is God from being wrought upon by the length or words of our prayers, that the most powerful intercessions are those which are made with groanings that cannot be uttered. Let us well study what is shown of the frame of mind in which our prayers should be offered, and learn daily from Christ how to pray.
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