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Prayer -The Bible's Viewpoint

Updated on December 6, 2012

Prayers Repetitious or Spontaneous?

A JUMBO jet was cruising at 12,300 km. (41,000 feet). Below lay the cold waters of the Pacific. Suddenly, one engine cut out. Then, the other three lost power. The plane plummeted 10 km. (six miles) in two minutes! But at 2,700 km. (9,000 feet) the jet regained power and made it safely to San Francisco. Sighed one passenger: "I prayed harder than at any time of my life."

In times of disaster, danger, or deep sorrow, many people, even the non-religious, turn to the Almighty for help. In contrast, the religious regularly repeat formal prayers in churches and temples or at home. With the aid of rosaries, many say Paternosters and Ave Marias. Others use prayer books. Millions of Orientals twirl wheels with prayers inside them as a means of repeating prayers rapidly.

Have you ever wondered, 'How should we pray? Should prayers be repetitious or spontaneous?

Drawing by Albrecht Durer - Licensed under Creative Commons License 2.0

Photo by sara 28001 - Photobucket

Suppose that your much loved father, living in another country, encouraged you to telephone whenever you wished, free of charge. Would you not call often? Would you not delight in maintaining, even strengthening, your precious bond? Would you not discuss your anxieties and express deep gratitude for any help and encouragement he had given you throughout your life? That personal relationship would be a great treasure to you, would it not?

In your phone calls, you might mention some matters again and again, but you would not express yourself by reading from a book or formally repeating yourself, would you? Neither, then, would Christian prayer be like that. In fact, Christ Jesus said that prayers should be nothing like that.

Photo by uratzika - Photobucket

"When praying, do not say the same things over and over again, just as the people of the nations do, for they imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words." (Matthew 6:7) Other versions express it this way: "In your prayers, do not go babbling on like the heathen." (The New English Bible) "In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do."~Revised Standard Version. Some people confuse verbosity with piety, fluency with devotion, repetition and length with a guaranteed response. However, God does not measure the value of a prayer by the yard or meter. Obviously, Jesus did not want his followers to use rigid formulas or to recite prayers. Hence, of what lasting value are rosaries, prayer books, or prayer wheels?

After saying the above, Jesus went on to give his disciples a model prayer - the well-known Lord's Prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13) But did he intend for them to keep parroting those very words? No. In fact, when restating it more than a year later, not even Jesus used the exact words. (Luke 11:2-4) Is there any record of early Christians' doing so or of their repeating other formal prayers? Again, no. Does this mean that we cannot mention the same point or request many times? Not at all, for Jesus also said: "Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find." (Matthew 7:7) It is often necessary for us to make the same request many times. God thereby sees how earnest we are in our requests and how deeply we feel about the matter.

For example, in the fifth century B.C.E., living as a member of the Judean exile community in Babylon was a devout man named Nehemiah. He was the royal cupbearer to the Persian king. When he was told that his kinsmen, the settlers in Judea, were faring badly, he prayed "day and night" for their relief. (Nehemiah 1:6) His prayers were favorably heard. God moved the sympathetic Persian ruler to grant Nehemiah the authority to make a trip to Jerusalem to set matters straight. This he did, to the happiness of his people and the preservation of their faith. ~Nehemiah 1:3-2:8.

Photo by kjkb2tx - Photobucket

Although he is the Supreme Power of the universe, God invites his "children" to approach him wholeheartedly. "Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you," says Jesus' disciple James. (James 4:8) But how? Well, we must pray in the name of Jesus. (John 14:6, 14) Furthermore, as Paul stated: "Without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him." ~Hebrews 11:6.

Those with problems, even those who have committed serious wrongs, can ask for and receive help and forgiveness. Jesus illustrated this with his story of a religious leader who, when praying, thanked God that he was more holy than others; but a tax collector (resented and viewed as a serious wrongdoer in those days) simply said: "O God, be gracious to me a sinner."Certainly, that simple, heartfelt prayer did not come out of a book. And Jesus condemned the religious hypocrite but said of the other: "He that humbles himself will be exalted." ~Luke 18:10-14.

Ugly world trends cause many to worry and suffer from depression. Christians may even fret about their standing before God. But a regular, frequent, spontaneous turning to God for help can work wonders. Wrote Paul: "Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:6, 7.

Supplication means an earnest entreaty, begging God for help, pouring out our hearts to him as would a child to a very loving and understanding parent. Such prayers do not come out of books, nor are they repeated parrot-fashion. They come from hearts that need help and have real faith in God, the "Hearer of prayer."~Psalm 65:2.

Photo by SportsMom4my5 - Photobucket

Praying Hands by Albrecht Durer - by Albrecht Durer

Durer was one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance in Northern Europe.

Durer always signed his work with his distinctive monogram:

Praying Hands, 1508-09 by Albrecht Durer 11.5"x8" Art Print Poster
Praying Hands, 1508-09 by Albrecht Durer 11.5"x8" Art Print Poster

~ Durer's oil paintings, watercolours and drawings show a very detailed technique done with painstaking skill.

~ Durer is famous for his graphic printmaking and illustration work as he is for his great paintings.

~ Durer is one of the first artists to view animals as a subject worthy of attention.

 

I hope that you enjoyed this and also found it beneficial.

Please leave a comment.

Faith Looks Up

Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, But faith looks up!

Live simply, love generously , care deeply, speak kindly and trust in our Creator who loves us.

Joy is a state of being regardless of our circumstances. Find a way.

The only difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is attitude

Oh, Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth!

"Never Give Up

Go over, Go under, Go around, or Go through.

But Never Give Up"

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Think highly of yourself because the world takes you at your own estimate.

The Titanic captain received SIX warning messages but he said the ship was unsinkable, so he didn't heed those warnings.

Don't ever think our spirituality is unsinkable! (Luke 21:36)

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Prayer is really a part of my day. I think it is important for life.

    • mimarlou profile image

      mimarlou 5 years ago

      Great lens. What a privilege we have to talk to our Father who loves us and listens to our everyday needs and who never grows weary.

    • coolaunt profile image

      coolaunt 5 years ago

      This is a wonderful lens. It is not overpowering. Prayer is so personal and you have presented it well here. I love your bio picture. You have an infectious warm smile.

    • eightieschild profile image

      eightieschild 5 years ago

      Great lens. I'd add that fasting is important too, after all Jesus said "When you fast...", not "If you fast...". It changes our attitude and our focus.

      The muslims are not slack at fasting, especially during ramadan, but it seems many Christians don't practice this regularly any more.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @GetFactsnotHype: Thank you! I enjoy reading your lenses and have added one of your lenses to mine here.

    • GetFactsnotHype profile image

      GetFactsnotHype 5 years ago

      I just added this lens of yours to mine and featured it on the right side. It's on my page on Idolatry.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @raelcalu: Yes, for sure, God knows what we .. need. Remember though he admonishes us to "Ask and you shall receive." He will provide us with what we really need.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @ideadesigns: Amen!

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @BuddenBookReviews: Thank you.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @Sylvestermouse: Thank you for visiting and I am happy that you commented.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @Diana Wenzel: Thank you for your visit, comment and blessing. Much appreciated!

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @ecogranny: I appreciate your comment. Indeed, prayer is asking God for comfort and guidance for us. I do indeed believe in the power of prayer.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      great topic. in my opinion religious involvement and prayers are associated with better outcomes in physical and mental health. thanks for a wonderful read. ~blessed~

    • raelcalu profile image

      raelcalu 5 years ago

      prayers among other things is (a bit) controversial issue but you have given your point well. I do believe in prayers when it comes from you heart, even we don't say it our Lord already knows our needs.

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      ideadesigns 5 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your scriptures and viewpoint on prayer. I do believe our prayers should be with all our heart.

    • BuddenBookReviews profile image

      BuddenBookReviews 5 years ago

      This is a beautifully presented lens. Job well done; the art of prayer comes across beautifully. :)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

      I believe in prayer and the power of prayer. You presented a few points for thought to be sure.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      Prayer not only changes things (circumstances), but more importantly, changes us in powerful ways. Thank you for this expression of faith and hope. Very much appreciated.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this page. I feel as though you wrote this with love and compassion, not only for God but also for all who might find comfort, inspiration and guidance in your understanding of the blessing and power of prayer.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @sukkran trichy: It is good to have faith in the future. Thank you for your comment and blessing!

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @Rangoon House: Thank you for reading this lens, your comment and blessing. I appreciate it!

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @CruiseReady: I believe that is true too! If he can read our hearts he can surely read our minds.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      I love and appreciate your analogy of the distant father. Blessings.

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

      Sometimes, you can't even find words at all - but He still understands.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @anonymous: Mine too, Tipi .. and I agree.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks, Have a wonderful day.

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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @anonymous: Thank you for your visit.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Prayer is a part of my daily life, and all the glory belongs to God for answered prayers.

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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @julieannbrady: Thanks for dropping by, Julie.

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      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Ah, dropped by for a moment of spiritual inspiration as I ponder, "Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find." (Matthew 7:7)

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @tvyps: There is usually some truth in these sayings. Thank you so very much for blessing this lens. I am sure there are many who disagree with what I have written here but ... that is the understanding I have from the passages.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Oooh..I like this one...they always told me that there were no Atheists in foxholes! ha! Squid Angel blessed!

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @julieannbrady: I live by it, Julie. Thank you for the visit.

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      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      May I repeat something you have added to this page, as it is worthy of repeating, "Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:6, 7.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @mrducksmrnot: I'm so happy you came to read this lens. I like your TGIF.

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      mrducksmrnot 6 years ago

      Love study of the Bible. BIBLE=Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, FROG is Fully Rely On God, TGIF is Today God Is First or Thank GOD I'm Forgiven. A wonderful lens. God Bless You for sharing.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @goo2eyes lm: Thank you for viewing this lens and leaving your "like."

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      goo2eyes lm 6 years ago

      i would say both arts of praying are acceptable. i am not in the position of saying that the other is much better than the first or v.v.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @Ruthi: That is true: Prayer is based on the conviction that God exists, hears and answers. In the Bible he is called the âHearer of prayer.â (Ps. 65:2) The Bible shows that God is approachable by man. We should expect God to listen to proper prayers, for he himself tells his people to pray, and his Word gives many examples of acceptable prayers. (2 Chron. 7:12-16) It tells us that Jesus, by both word and example, showed the necessity of praying. If the Son of God recognized such need to pray, how much more do we need to do so. Thank you for your interesting comment.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @NoYouAreNot: Thank you Helenee for your comments. I agree with you. Christians, need to use Jesus' model prayer as a basis of what is properly a subject of prayer - the sanctification of God's name, the coming of God's kingdom against its enemies, daily needs and forgiveness of sins. Of course, many other prayers are recorded in the Bible, especially in Psalms, and these can be used for additional instruction.

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      Ruthi 6 years ago

      Interesting and inspiring lens. I've always believed that prayer is between He and me, and no matter what I do or do not say, He hears the most important part -- my heart.

    • NoYouAreNot profile image

      NoYouAreNot 6 years ago

      When I was younger, I used to think that a thank-you prayer is more honest than one people utter when in distress - after all, who doesn't hope for a higher power to help him/her in times of trial? Later on, I understood that prayer is always beneficial.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @vauldine: I'm not too sure what you are saying here, vauldine, but I'm happy that you visited and commented. Thank you.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @anonymous: Thank you for commenting, Tipi. I truly do feel this way about prayer. Often when I am frustrated or upset about something, I pray and I calm down. Just like when I could talk it out with mum or dad. Our heavenly father is very approachable and gives comfort.

    • vauldine profile image

      vauldine 6 years ago

      Prayer is praying and living the God/spirit concept. We must live what is prayed, for prayer to be answered and effective. The mechanism of prayer is very simple. Basically, it is directing energy towards our desires which have already been met. We need to simply align ourselves to the truth of our being that God has already supplied all we needs according to his riches in glory, to receive the blessing.Peace and blessings!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      You made me smile, a prayer is like a phone call home, sweet!

    • stylishimo1 profile image

      stylishimo1 6 years ago

      I said a prayer once, when I was about to die, and here I am today, alive and well. So I belive very much in the power of prayer. Lovely lens

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I'm very happy that you have enjoyed this lens. Thank you, friends, for your comments. I will try to visit you as soon as possible.

    • PastorSam LM profile image

      PastorSam LM 6 years ago

      Very Cool. Enjoyed the read.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Liked your lens. I have joined your fan club. God is always very near to us. We can feel that only if we are ready to direct our attention inwards. Thanks for sharing!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a beautiful Lens, on a most wonderful subject!

      In times like these you need a Savior

      In times like these you need an anchor

      Be very sure, be very sure

      Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock

      Refrain

      This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One

      This Rock is Jesus, the only One

      Be very sure, be very sure

      Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock

      In times like these you need the Bible

      In times like these O be not idle

      Be very sure, be very sure

      Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock

      In times like these I have a Savior

      In times like these I have an anchor

      I'm very sure, I'm very sure

      My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock

      Ruth C. Jones.

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      Dynamite8 6 years ago

      Very nice lens, there is nothing like the power of prayer.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Thank you, my friends, I'm still tied up looking after a very ill family member, so I haven't been visiting my Squidoo friends lenses as I usually do. I appreciate your friendly comments and thumbs up. (The favorites and blessings also, of course.)

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 7 years ago

      very nice page! prayer is life and will-changing! :)

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 7 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Great page! I usually pray for strength to get through the tough times ( that can be often) and for wisdom. Often, prayers go up for my young Son to protect and keep him on a Godly path.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 7 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Thank you for your comments. Sometimes it is difficult to talk about our beliefs but I really think that if it helps someone, then it is worthwhile.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 7 years ago

      Beautiful lens. I love how you quoted Jesus words on how we should pray.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      I read this once "...the quickest path to sunrise is actually to run into the darkness."

      I personally believe God allows us to experience darkness, the more desperate we become for God, the more He can reveal Himself to us...and prayer does that.

      5* and a ~"Squid Angel Blessing"~

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 7 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @journey103: Yes, I agree, IdeaGal. Prayer is certainly a wonderful provision from God.

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      journey103 7 years ago from USA

      I too believe in the power of prayer and higher power. I know it works and gets us through the difficult patches in life. Lovely Lense. 5 Stars

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 7 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @hsschulte: We all do.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 7 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @ZenandChic: Thank you for the blessing. You are truly a sweet angel.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      This is beautifully expressed! We can talk to our heavenly Father as a child talks to his. Thank you for sharing these scriptures. :D

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 7 years ago

      I pray often and always my own words. God knows our hearts. I am lensrolling this to my A More Excellent Way lens and blessing it!

    • hsschulte profile image

      hsschulte 7 years ago

      Thank you for sharing the references to the scripture about prayer. I needed the reminders.

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      WillBorden 7 years ago

      Hi Laraine,

      A wonderful lens on the subject of prayer- information according to what the scriptures have to say on the subject. It's so important to base our views on what the Bible actually teaches, instead of relying on our own reasoning or the centuries-old doctrines of men. Another very informative, educational and quality Squidoo lens.

      A beautiful contribution,

      Will

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 7 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      @RuthieDenise: Thank you, Karen! I try to back up everything I write with scriptures. The pictures are truly a bonus!

    • RuthieDenise profile image

      RuthieDenise 7 years ago

      I love this lens. It is beautiful in the way it is written and the pictures are very nice. Thanks for the lens roll. God bless your work.

    • LaraineRoses profile image
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      Laraine Sims 7 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Thank you Will, for your continued support and kind words.

      Mary Beth. Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your thoughts on the matter. In Matt. 6:7 Jesus said, But when praying, do not say the same things over and over again, just as the people of the nations do, for they imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words." If you read just a little further (the next verse) Jesus continued; "So, do not make yourselves like them, for God YOUR Father knows what things YOU are needing before ever YOU ask him." This indicates that, if we are at a loss for words .. God knows what we need so there is no need for further words. . There are many comforting passages in the Bible.

      Thank you for your blessings and I appreciate your comment.

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      Mary Beth Granger 8 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      This is an excellent lens. I agree with much of what you say....prayer should come from the heart and your example of a conversation with a loving long distance father was excellent. I do think there are times for repetition though. In times of extreme stress sometimes the mind cannot put together a conversation and repeating words your have learned such as The Lords Prayer or even just the litany Lord Have Mercy...Christ have Mercy ..can be of great comfort. Wonderful lens. Blessed by a Squid Angel.