October is the Month of the Holy Rosary, it is an opportune time to correct one of the most common misconceptions about the Catholic faith, and that is praying the Rosary is an example of vain repetition stated in Matthew 6:7 which says;
When you pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathens do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (Mt. 6: 7 King James Version)
Catholics are being criticized by Fundamentalist Christians for praying the Holy Rosary because of their faulty understanding of the passage quoted above. For them this passage strictly prohibits any person from repeating words or statements in prayer. To follow their logic they would have to admit that they too are guilty of violating Matthew 6:7 because they might have unknowlingly violated this passage when they repeated a praise and worship song or have repeatedly give thanks to the food before consuming it.
The Greek word for “vain repetition” is battalageste which means to stammer, babble, prate or to repeat the same things over and over mindlessly. This is the manner how the pagans during the time of Jesus Christ prayed to their gods, using empty words to appease them. What Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6:7 is not actually a prohibition in repeating a prayer, but in praying the way how the pagans prayed to their gods.
There are instances in the Bible where a repetitive prayer is pleasing to God. Take the angels, for example;
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within, day and night they never cease to sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God almighty, who was and is and is to come! Revelations 4:8
If the Fundamentalist understanding of Matthew 6:7 is right then, they should inform the angels in heaven that what they are doing is “vain repetition”! Consider the fact that in Psalm 136 Jews and Christians prayed the Psalms for thousands of years. Psalm 136 repeats the phrase “for his steadfast love endurse forever” 26 times!
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever, Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever, Give thanks to the Lord of lords, His love endures forever, To him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever, Who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever. .
This prayer in the book of Psalm is almost identical to the structure and manner on how the Holy Rosary is being prayed by Catholics. King David the primary author of the book of Psalms didn’t find Psalm 136 as vain repitition as well as God to whom this passage was addressed to.
Finally, Jesus Christ himself prayed repeatedly amd evem used the same exact words in his prayer.
And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into tempatation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. and again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again, he came and found them sleeping. . .and he came a third time, and said to them, are you still sleeping? Mark 14:32-39
The Book of Psalms contained repititive prayer (Psalm 136), the angels in heaven for eternity repeatedly praise God using the exact same song over and over again (Revelations 4:8), and Jesus Christ himself repeated a prayer saying the exact same words (Mark 14:32-39). If it is good for them to repeat a prayer using exact same words, then there is nothing wrong in praying the Rosary to meditate in the life, passion and death of Jesus Christ.