Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Matthew 6:7-8, "Babbling" for Ourselves

Μαθθαῖον 6·7 Προσευχόμενοι δὲ μὴ βατταλογήσητε ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί, δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται.  8 μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς· οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν. 
And don’t babble while praying as the pagans do.  For they think that they will be heard by their many words.  Therefore, do not be like them.  For your father knows of that need you have before you ask him.  Matthew 6:7-8
Προσευχόμενοι (while praying)
This word has a small nuance that indicates to us that the people who were praying, were praying for themselves.  This is reinforced in verse 8.
βατταλογήσητε (to babble)
Yes, it really does mean to babble or saying many words that make no sense.  Jesus backs up this teaching when he gives an example of how to pray in the Lord’s Prayer.  Notice how short and to the point that prayer is.  
Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς·
ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου· 
10 ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου·
γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου,
ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς· 
11 τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον· 
12 καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν,
ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν· 
13 καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν,
ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ. 
Our Father, who is in heaven, 
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, 
your will be done 
on earth as it is also in heaven.
Give us our daily bread today 
and forgive our debts 
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And don’t bring us into temptation, 
but deliver us from the evil one.
Also, notice how we should pray for ourselves: 
  1. Basic need (Give us our daily bread today) 
  2. Forgiveness for what we owe, but only after we have forgiven the ones we owe.  Think about how we would do that.  Does that change how you look at this part of the prayer?
  3. Asking for God’s help to intervene in our sinful nature by delivering us from the evil one who tempts us.


  1. Even if the greek word has a "slight nuance" which may indicate that they were praying for themselves, if it's given in the context of the english, there is no need for it since, as you stated, that "nugget" is clear from verse 8.

    There's a Part 4 to the way we should pray Russell. We're supposed to give him the glory. My bible says "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever." And we should top the prayer off with a good old fashioned "AMEN." Can't blame you though, your bible probably "took away from the words...of this book".

    Shoot me an email, Russell, I'd like to keep this conversation going if you'd be interested. Thanks man...

  2. Hi J.D. In this case, we don't have a subtraction from scripture, we have an addition. It is highly documented that the oldest and best Greek manuscripts end right where I end it here. Thanks for reading!