Question: I once read in the New Testament, I think, that too much prayer is sinful, could you please tell the book it’s in. Too much, meaning praying over and over for the same thing.
Answer: Thank you for your question and the passage of Scripture you were trying to remember, I think, is Matthew 6:7. “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.”
Something that will help you find the verses you want is a Bible with a good concordance. Good Bibles have these, yes, they cost a little more, but they sure do help a lot. Whenever you can’t remember the reference for a verse or passage you want, go to your concordance in the back of your Bible. Again, if you don’t have one of these, next time you buy a Bible, make sure it has a good concordance. The reason I say this is because we get a lot of questions about where is such and such a passage. We can’t really answer all of these, but with a good concordance people can find the verses themselves.
I believe you want more of an answer than just finding this reference, so I will try to help. Right after God said do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do, He went on to give a model prayer, or as we know it, Our Lord’s Prayer, which all of us have prayed at one time or another in church. (This is a study in itself.) So He tells us how not to pray, the negative (vain repetitions), then He goes on to give the positive, how to pray. Our Lord’s Prayer is a model of how we should pray.
The unsaved (heathen) think that if they repeat something over and over again it might get through to their god. The only problem is, there is no other God, than the one God of the universe, and you can only come to Him through Jesus Christ. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” (John 14:6) Another place in Scripture it says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5)
People that are into a false religion don’t get answers to their prayers because their prayers are not accepted by God. The reason they are not answered is because God answers the prayers of His children. You might think about this scenario, a child comes to their father, and asks him for a bike. Now they ask in a nice way, because they really do want a bike. No doubt, they may ask more than once, but not begging or nagging. Eventually, in their father’s timing, chances are they will get the bike. If a stranger comes to the door and asks for a bike, chances are the father would wonder why they are coming to someone who is not their father.
God the Father does want us to come to Him, through Jesus Christ, without repeating vain repetitions, because He is a person not a machine. He wants us to treat Him with respect, and ask like we would ask our father for something. He makes this clear in these verses:
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:9-13)
There is an acrostic in English and it will help us to remember how to pray:
Ask-For everyone who asks receives
Seek-and he who seeks finds
Knock-and to him who knocks it will be opened
So when we pray there are some basic principles to remember if we want our prayers answered. We never need to just say things over and over again because that would be vain repetition. This would be insulting to the LORD of the universe.
We do need to come to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. We do need to ask in faith for what we need. We need to ask in the Lord’s will. If we are not sure something is the Lord’s will for us at this time we need to ask Him. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8)
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” (James 5:17-18)
God always answers pray, but He answers in three different ways: 1. Yes, 2. No, 3. Wait
Hopefully this helps,
Gary T. Panell
For more information email me at firstname.lastname@example.org