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"In your prayer do not rattle on like the pagans." —Matthew 6:7
Jesus commanded us not to rattle on in prayer. Some people think that when we repeat prayers, we are rattling. However, repetition is often an expression of love. For instance, I hope you repeatedly say to your family: "I love you." Jesus Himself repeated His prayers. For example, the exact translation of Luke 23:34 and Mark 14:36 are "He kept saying." Rattling on is not mere repetition.
If we haven't forgiven those who have hurt us, we curse rather than bless ourselves when we pray: "Forgive us the wrong we have done as we forgive those who wrong us" (Mt 6:12). If we haven't forgiven, we rattle on rather than truly pray.
The first word of prayer taught by Jesus is "Abba," "Father" (Mt 6:9). Prayer is a matter of relationship. Jesus said: "This people draws near with words only and honors Me with their lips alone, though their hearts are far from Me" (Is 29:13; Mt 15:8). Rattling on in prayer is the same thing as "lip service." We rattle on in prayer when our hearts are far from the Lord. Until we obey the first of all the commandments and therefore love the Lord with all our hearts, how can we obey Jesus' teaching on how to pray?
A hardened, closed, divided, unrepentant heart turns our prayer into a "death-rattle." However, "a heart contrite and humbled" God "will not spurn" (Ps 51:19). "A clean heart create for me, O God," so I can pray (Ps 51:12).
Prayer: Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like Yours.
Promise: "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent it." —Is 55:11
Praise: Susanna prays the rosary slowly and meditatively.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape, Lord, Teach Us to Pray, on audio AV 57-3 or video V-57.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July27, 2010
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