Praying like a pagan

Sometimes it’s easy as Christians to fall into a pattern of praying in a repetitious fashion, without engaging our minds. This often happens with the prayer said before a meal. If you’re not careful, prayers that become common place in your life, such as “asking the blessing” before dinner, can become trivial, mindless, and meaningless.

Growing up, we always prayed before we ate dinner together as a family. As kids, and dare I say even later as adults, we became jaded by the familiarity and repetition of the before-we-eat prayer. Unfortunately, it had devolved into an exercise in futility. We were so accustomed to the practice of it, that we never actually put our brain into gear and sincerely prayed along and personally gave thanks.

We might as well have been praying any number of the silly bless-the-meal prayer rhymes that were meant to make everyone laugh. “Good bread, good meat, good God, let’s eat.” Or, “Bless the meat, curse the skin, open your mouth and cram it in.”

When our prayers are reduced to repetitious babble, we are not praying from our heart. Jesus did not give the Lord’s Prayer with the intention that it would be repeated mindlessly, however, if we’re not careful, it too can be treated that way.

In Matthew 6:7, Jesus says that we must not regard prayer as some kind of magical incantation, for that is how pagans pray. They recite certain phrases over and over again, with no understanding of what the words mean. That mindless repetition resembles prayers used as mantras, with the hope that they will change the environment or the circumstances in which a person lives. New Age thinking is filled with that kind of mumbo jumbo.

So, whenever you pray, and for any reason, remember that you are participating in a very special and unique conversation with the Creator of the universe, who is actually listening to you. Never, ever, take that for granted!

“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.” Matthew 6:7