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:
- Basic need (Give us our daily bread today)
- 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?
- Asking for God’s help to intervene in our sinful nature by delivering us from the evil one who tempts us.