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Matthew 6:7

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

AD 430
As it is characteristic of the hypocrites to exhibit themselves to be gazed at when praying, and their fruit is to please men, so it is characteristic of the heathen, i.e. of the Gentiles, to think they are heard for their much speaking. And in reality, every kind of much speaking comes from the Gentiles, who make it their endeavour to exercise the tongue rather than to cleanse the heart. And this kind of useless exertion they endeavour to transfer even to the influencing of God by prayer, supposing that the Judge, just like man, is brought over by words to a certain way of thinking. Therefore, be not like them, says the only true Master. For your Father knows what things are necessary for you, before you ask Him. For if many words are made use of with the intent that one who is ignorant may be instructed and taught, what need is there of them for Him who knows all things, to whom all things which exist, by the very fact of their existence, speak, and show themselves as having been bro...

Chromatius of Aquileia

AD 407
We have an example of just how great a distance there is between the wordy and the humble and simple prayer in the story of the Pharisee and the publican. The prayer of the Pharisee vaunting himself in his abundance of words was rejected. The humble and contrite publican, on the other hand, asking forgiveness for his sins, came away more justified than the selfboasting Pharisee. In this we find fulfilled what was written: “The prayer of the humble penetrates the clouds,” reaching God who is ready to hear the request of the one who prays. . ...

Chromatius of Aquileia

AD 407
Nonbelievers think that they can more easily obtain from the Lord what they require by using many words, but the Lord does not expect this from us. Rather, he wants us to send up our prayers not with wordy speech but with faith that comes from the heart. By doing so we command the merits of justice to him. He surely knows better all the things of which we have need and before we speak is aware of everything that we are going to request. . ...

Cornelius a Lapide

AD 1637
But . . . much speaking. Gr. Battologia, i.e, a trifling and futile profusion and repetition of words, as if by this their rhetoric they would give God information concerning His own affairs, and would bend Him to concede what they ask, as orators by their rhetoric endeavour to move judges to acquit an accused person. Christ therefore here teaches that the essence of prayer does not consist in words profuse and drawn out, but in converse of the soul with God; and that the object, and, as it were, the soul of prayer is the desire and pious affection of the mind, which, however, does not, of course, exclude outward expression in words. Be ye not therefore like unto them, &c. It means, the heathen think that God is ignorant, or at least does not consider their miseries and wants, from which they pray God to deliver them. They use, therefore, many words, that they themselves may tell Him of them. But they err, for God knows and considers their wants far more than those who pray. Still He...

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Long prayer is not here forbidden; for Christ himself spent whole nights in prayer: and he sayeth, we must pray always; and the apostle, that we must pray without intermission, 1 Thessalonians v.; and the holy Church hath had from the beginning her canonical hours for prayer, but rhetorical and elaborate prayer, as if we thought to persuade God by our eloquence, is forbidden; the collects of the Church are most brief and most effectual. (St. Augustine, ep. 121. chap. viii, ix, x.) (Bristow) Perseverance in prayer is recommended us by the example of the poor widow, who by her importunity prevailed over the unjust judge. (St. Chrysostom, hom. xix.) The Greek word means, to babble or trifle. ...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
You see that when He was discoursing of almsgiving, He removed only that mischief which comes of vainglory, and added nothing more; neither did He say whence one should give alms; as from honest labor, and not from rapine nor covetousness: this being abundantly acknowledged among all. And also before that, He had thoroughly cleared up this point, when He blessed them that hunger after righteousness. But touching prayer, He adds somewhat over and above; not to use vain repetitions. And as there He derides the hypocrites, so here the heathen; shaming the hearer everywhere most of all by the vileness of the persons. For since this, in most cases, is especially biting and stinging, I mean our appearing to be likened to outcast persons; by this topic He dissuades them; calling frivolousness, here, by the name of vain repetition: as when we ask of God things unsuitable, kingdoms, and glory, and to get the better of enemies, and abundance of wealth, and in general what does not at all conc...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
By the example of the importunate widow who prevailed with the pitiless and cruel ruler by persevering in her requests, we are shown how to pray. We hear the insistent voice of the friend who came late at night and roused the sleeper from his bed, not for friendship’s sake but out of his urgent need. By these examples Jesus called us continually to make earnest supplication to the Father. He did not ask us to compose a prayer of ten thousand phrases and so come to him and merely repeat it. He warned against those who “think that they shall be heard for their loquacity.” “For your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” But if he already knows what we need, why do we pray? Not to inform God or instruct him but to beseech him closely, to be made intimate with him, by continuance in supplication; to be humbled; to be reminded of our sins. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily ...

Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
"Babbling" means praying foolishly, as when someone asks for such worldly things as fame, wealth, or victory. "Babbling" is also inarticulate, childish speech. Therefore you, O reader, must not pray foolishly. is not necessary to make long prayers, but rather short and frequent prayers, uttering few words, but persevering in prayer. ...

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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