Vain repetition?

dirty laundry

Do you ever pray the same thing over and over? Ask forgiveness for a sin again and again? I know I do.

But is it really necessary? God’s grace and forgiveness isn’t like a stain remover that needs to be applied several times before a stubborn mark finally disappears. Psalm 139 v4  says “You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.” So why do we repeat ourselves?

As frail human beings, we can find it difficult to let go of our sin, resentment and hurt. It can take quite a lot of scrubbing on our part to clear the mess away from our hearts and minds – to accept forgiveness, and to welcome God into our hearts.

Likewise, when we give glory to God, “chewing over” a phrase, thought or concept helps us to remember, take truths on board, and strengthen our faith.

Repeating phrases mindfully (as opposed to the mindless “vain repetition” that Jesus warns us about in Matt 6 v 7) is a great way to focus and develop clarity over a phrase or statement.

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Psalm 51 – a prayer of forgiveness

The Bible is full of examples of repeated statements. For example, Psalm 136 repeats “His love endures forever” 26 times – and many modern hymns and worship songs contain repeated phrases: Truths to be layered up, strengthening their meaning in our hearts.

This week, try it out – pick out a Psalm, a worship song or a prayer of your own, and chew it over, repeating, speaking, whispering and writing, and strengthen the words in your heart.

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