“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” — Matthew 6:7-8
It was our first attempt at a city-wide prayer meeting. Our church had never attempted anything like that before and there were many doubters (as there always are). Would anybody other than a few in our church come? How would we handle people who didn’t pray like us? What if nobody prayed at all? Horrors!
I still believed that God had put it on my heart to invite the whole city to join us once-a-month at our church for prayer—so that’s what we did and God answered our call. We even got a big surprise one snowy winter night when Paul Wilbur, one of the leading Messianic worship leaders in the whole world (who happened to be in town for another event) found out about our meeting and joined us. He was invited to lead our worship, of course. Wow. Way to go God!
Unfortunately, not all went that well in the beginning and we had to learn some things along the way. In this often overlooked passage, Jesus warns in advance—beware of becoming a babbler! It’s interesting that the word for “babble” is used only once in all of Scripture and it’s here in the context of prayer. The compound Greek word is battologeo. Battos means “stammerer” and logos means “word.” Literally, it refers to someone who speaks foolishly or chatters. It’s much talk without content, or repeating the same thing over and over again. It’s foolish speaking or indiscreet vowing.
Well, that’s what happened when a dear lady stood up at the microphone during our first session and twenty minutes later I had to ask her (politely) to be seated so others could pray. Under the guise of prayer she told us of her childhood upbringing, a divorce, a previous bad church relationship, what was wrong with the world and our city, etc.—and she showed no sign of tiring. Poof! So much for an exciting and anointed prayer time as I noticed a few people begin to leave.
I suspect we’ve all been guilty of telling God over and over what He already knows or inserting boring details that are insignificant—as if the more we talk the more He has to listen. I believe Jesus is telling us here that God’s not hard of hearing. He doesn’t have a limited memory nor is He ever distracted.
So saints, why not just allow our omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God be who He is. Let’s stand up, pray up, then sit down (even if we’re by ourselves). Perhaps if we would be quiet long enough (Psalm 46:10), God would answer our prayers even sooner. Maranatha!
Principle Number Seven: “Our Father”