Unexpected Common Ground in My Sunday School Studies

For the next few weeks, I will be teaching a Sunday School class on The Lord’s Prayer.  I decided to do this after reading Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI.  He spent about 80 pages (in the large print edition) of his book on the Lord’s Prayer, and that made me think it would be good for the class to study the Lord’s Prayer in more depth.

 I got a few sources to help me prepare the lesson.  One source is Jesus Pattern of Prayer, by John MacArthur.  I am also using the Westminster Shorter Catechism particularly Questions 98-107.  This is a part of the statement of faith of Presbyterian churches worldwide.  I am also peaking at Pope Benedict’s book once in a while, although I won’t be able to use it full time since it’s borrowed from the library.

So my readings for this lesson include Baptist, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic sources. 

The pleasant surprise is that the three sources generally understand the Lord’s Prayer the same way, even though they represent significantly different traditions.  Pope Benedict warns against the dangers of repetitive prayer, and you would never get the idea from his writing that Roman Catholics pray the Rosary.  (This is a Roman practice that seriously rubs Protestants the wrong way, due to Matthew 6:7-8.)  Meanwhile, MacArthur emphasizes the communal aspect of the prayer (there is no “I”, only “we”) in a way you would not expect from a tradition that is more focused on individual salvation.


23 thoughts on “Unexpected Common Ground in My Sunday School Studies

  1. That’s an interesting take on the rosary and repetitious prayer. However the rosary is not recited for the sake of repetition but as a means of meditation–otherwise a constant but unique prayer. Every time I say the rosary I realize something different about Christ and my relationship with him.

    Although I could see how such a literal interpretation might lead you to believe that any kind of repetition is problematic, Jesus himself repeated prayer (see Matthew 26:39-44; see also Psalm 136:1-26).

    The Rosary is not an incantation (which Matthew 6:7-8 refers to) but about building a relationship with God.

    Good luck with your class!

  2. So because of one verse in the Bible you dismiss the Rosary. Here are three verses from the Bible….

    And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

    Mark 16:17-18

    Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

    Luke 10:19

    Good luck with the snake handling. Put it on Youtube.

  3. That is an interesting discourse richardz and Mr. BTG.
    Especially all the verses you two have picked.

    No doubt Protestants and Catholics have differences, even different Bibles. There is less a need to know areas of disagreement and more a need to know shared doctrine.

    1 Corinthians 12:12 and forward identifies that there are Many Parts, One Body. So too with the Body of Christ, that is, believers.

    I once read of the brain and heart arguing which was more important. The sphinter went into a fury and shut down. The argument ensued until soon the head was dizzy and blood flow was not proper. Finally, BOTH brain and heart relented to the superior power of the sphincter to shut the whole body down. Don’t be a sphincter in the Body here.

    Each of the parts of the Body of Christ has a role to play. The quibbling makes for heartburn and headache. Not wise.
    (Besides, Protestants hoot more over Marianism than prayer, but that is another day).

    Look again at Matthew 26: 39- 44. It is not actually repetition as richardz says (tho it appears to be). More important, Luke shows only 2 prayer times (Luke 22: 39-46) in the Mount of Olives while Matthew says 3. Hmmm. Look closer.

    Prayer 1) My Father, IF IT IS POSSIBLE, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. (Matt 26:39)

    This is essentially prayer 1) in Luke 22:42
    Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.

    Prayer 1) is agreed in both Gospels.

    Prayer 2) Matthew is specific with the words of Christ (significantly so), but Luke says zip on what the words were, only desribing what happened as he prayed more earnestly.

    Most people miss the difference in Prayer 2) in Matthew.
    Before I highlight the difference, it is important to note what Luke says happened between prayer 1) and 2).

    Luke 22:43 explains it all. “An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him”

    THAT made all the difference of a human request in Prayer 1) and a divinely aided prayer 2) (angels have now strengthened before prayer 2 begins).

    Prayer 2) My Father, IF IT IS NOT POSSIBLE for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.
    (Matthew 26:42)

    This is not repetition. This prayer holds a “NOT”.
    Prayer 1) is essentially “can we do this any other way; I am ready to change but this is what I am asking.

    Post strengthening by angels, He pretty much says “I volunteer” (your will, not mine). He now knows there is “NOT” another way, so He agrees Okee Doke.

    They are different prayers and regrettably, not outlined in Luke.

    Indeed 3 is missing entirely in Luke. Matthew says he prayed the third time saying the same thing (words?) (prayer?) (thing?) Who knows? It is not a given.

    But in defense of repitition, one need look no further than Psalm 22. The opening line was uttered on the cross precisely. Old Testament prayer was one of the final New Testament utterings of Christ as He died. My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me….Psalm 22:1 and Matthew 27:46.

    Your body breathes air to live. Sometimes steady, sometimes slow (while asleep), sometimes in gulps, (as in a race).

    The soul breathes likewise. It is called prayer. Sometimes it is soft and quiet, othertimes urgent; sometimes thankful, and sometimes selfish.

    There is no exclusive format in either part of the body of Christ on prayer procedure. Different parts of the body hold prayer in different fashion.

    What Church and What Time are the Sunday School teachings on the Lord’s Prayer, often called the Disciples Prayer since they were the ones who requested “Lord, teach us to pray”?

  4. Danny:

    My husband’s teaching Sunday school here:


    Sunday school starts at 9:30 a.m.; if you’re interested in visiting, just walk in and you can’t miss the class as we’re a very small church and the only adult class meets in the sanctuary. You’d be most welcome to come and stay for worship at 11:00 a.m.

  5. Richardz,

    I would not suggest that all repetition in prayer is wrong. However, the examples you cite are not like the Rosary at all.

    Psalm 136 is a litany, which has a repetitive element. It is similar in structure to a song with a chorus.

    In Matthew 26:39-44, Jesus just asks for the same thing twice. That bears no resemblance to the Rosary, with its one “Our Father” followed by 10 “Hail Mary’s, ” and using beads to keep track of where you are.

    I will not insist that you are violating the principle in Matthew 6:7-8 when you pray the Rosary, because I can’t see inside your head. However, I know for certain that if I prayed the Rosary, I would be “praying like the pagans.”

  6. Sean,

    Actually I was just observing that the Rosary “rubs Protestants the wrong way”, and I referenced a verse that begins to explain why.

    I’ll grant that we Protestants have our whack jobs who handle snakes. (Most of them live in West Virginia and are related to each other.) However, Jesus dealt with that sort of behavior when he said, in response to Satan’s temptation, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”

    Incidentally, in Acts 28, Paul was bitten by a snake and survived. He wasn’t looking for trouble from the snake, though.

  7. @ Lucas

    As is your writing style, I can’t tell who you are directing your “many parts, one body” comment to. Assuming it is directed toward me (again, I can’t tell) then you are simply off base. I’ll leave it at that, and for you to explain.

    If you look at Matthew 26, Christ certainly does repeat the same prayer three times. He takes a break in between but he repeats the prayer for a total of three times. Merriam Webster definition for repetition: “the act or an instance of repeating or being repeated.” Read on for clarification…

    @ Ray

    You’re partially right. The rosary is a declaration of a particular mystery (such as the crucifixion or the nativity), followed by 1 Our Father, followed by 10 Hail Mary’s, followed by the Glory Be. Overlaying all of that prayer is the meditation of the particular mystery while reciting each prayer. It is not a shallow or rote process. It can be if it is abused by treating it casually but the same can be said of many things (including the attendance of church on Sunday or saying the same prayer over a meal).

    The New Jerome Bible Commentary comment on this passage of the bible states that the “positive teaching is that prayer should be sincere personal communion with God . . . [i]t is the food of faith.” Indeed the rosary is rich with spiritual nourishment.

    To basically say that my examples are markedly different and therefore are inapplicable leads to an inescapable problem for your argument. How can you say that the rosary fits a pattern of repetitious prayer (i.e., 1 prayer followed by 10 of another) yet the other examples I provide are not repetitious (a clear pattern of repetition)? In other words if the rosary was 1 prayer followed by 3, or 3 followed by 3 of another kind (similar to Christ’s prayer) or a unique phrase separated by a repeated prayer (litany) then it would seem acceptable to you as not being repetitious. You have arrived to an objective standard to come to this conclusion, but how?

    The problem is that Matthew 6:7-8 does not lend credence to your interpretation. Having such a strict, literal interpretation is an all or nothing proposition. Either any prayer that repeats itself (by definition more than once) is repetitious and is violative of the warning of Matthew 6, or it means something else (e.g., incantation I spoke of in a previous post).

    The Catholic Church has existed for about 2,000 years. It has 2,000 years of tradition, thoughtful prayer and exposition of the Gospel, and discourse behind it. I believe it has appropriately adopted the rosary as a means for us to enrich our spiritual lives and to broaden our understanding of Christ and the message of hope that He brings.

    Ray, you may be “praying like the pagans” if you recited the rosary but that would only be because you do not understand nor appreciate the significance of this form of prayer–not because the rosary is itself flawed.

    Thanks for the opportunity for a thoughtful discussion.

  8. Wow! You certainly spurred some good discussion with this post.

    In my opinion there is some comfort from repetitive prayer. Any prayer can be effective if it is heartfelt.

    Have a great day!

  9. richardz, (and anyone else so richardz does not get a big head about it)…

    You are not contained in the two sentences you outline as a source of confusion to you here:

    1 Corinthians 12:12 and forward identifies that there are Many Parts, One Body. So too with the Body of Christ, that is, believers.

    The reference is to denomination differences which happens to be the topic Ray posted. Protestant versus Cathlolic thought on prayer. He is attempting to be ecumenical in his upcoming discourse.

    I will add your (richardz) propensity to comment on my comments such as “Mr. Lucas, what is your majotr malfunction?” or the followup schizophrenic comment by you for me, to stop at richardz and comment there (you don’t bite)……
    has given me pause for thought, that you would be the last for me to identify as a Christian based on my experience with you.

    Dennis is in a league of his own and has polarized your audience beyond repair in EB. I Googled “Whoopsie” recently and was astonished to find 30 + comments on Erie Blogs on ONE post by Mike, albeit much of it on the joys of observing female anatomy and eye candy….true Christ talk, eh?

    A post by me in Arsenic for Mike’s win as assessor in Crawford County was met by two comments by you. There seems to be an obsessive need by you to interpret whatever I say anywhere and misinterpret it for all, instead of acknowledging the God given gift of discernment that our Lord has created in each reader. I found it amusing that both of your suppostions on my comment to Mike, were, as usual, way off base.
    (Post on County Assessor and followup richardz-isms).

    Sadly, it spreads. Mike has illness and I sent well wishes on that (life in 25 words post). He refused to post the most inocuous of praise and well wishes. (I suggested he use 50 wards in 2008 over 25 words, since it is a Leap year; and to start wit “Do you belive in….”, a reference to Al Michael’s and the USA hockey teams miracle victory over the Russians at the Olympics—- Mike is in an Olympic struggle too)

    The net is too large to spend time walking with thorns when areas of lush growth and thought (and civility) abound elsewhere. Too many bloggers have stated outright, thanks for your comment Danny, and come back often.
    Dillemma for me? Should I be with them or you? Hmmm.

    When a comment is directed at writing style, you can rest assured that the new comment has zero to add to the discussion.

    On repetitive prayer and Rosary , no mention is made above to Joyful Mysteries, Sorrowful mysteries, Glorious Mysteries, the cul-de-sac on Joseph and the like. Each travel around the Rosary is unique in the Mysteries contemplated and consequently, what is revealed to the praying person by the Holy Spirit. The entire argument above is an excercise in futility as none here have a lock on proper prayer.

    Worse, the segment reflects upcoming Lord’s Prayer (sometimes called Disciples Prayer) and there is not one iota of truth illuminating THAT topic, with the post or comments that could be sourced ,to make the upcoming lessons fruitful.
    There is only deviation into selective Bible quotes (erroneously) to distort the Word of God to reflect the commenting individual’s point of view.

    I get that treatment from richardz all the time, but I suspect the Lord will have the final say on that.

    Years ago, I was teaching on the book of Phillipians to adults. Most were grief stricken and in stages of disarray in their life. Phillipians is on JOY (when joyful ain’t an easy task at that moment). An esteemed PhD in our area had the uncanny knack of making a grand entrance to each class about 10 minutes into it….every week. The class always shifted from the topic, to a greeting scenario, to this man above all men.

    The topic of the day was not relevant. The relevance came from a person speaking in the first 10 minute for the FIRST time. They were now comfortable to speak. tragedy had occurrred. A drink; an auto accident; a death; lives shattered. All of this was revealed and a final comment made by this heartwrenching individual:
    “I feel so sarcastic about everything because of all of this that has occurred”.

    Everyone knew what was meant.

    In walks the exalted psychobabbler. It was tough for all to swing emotions from what had just been revealed to taking the class to its weekly applause for the grace and appearance of his highness. The usual accolades were not forthcoming. No problem. he inquired the course of discussion and had heard the quote above on sarcasm.

    THIS was his opening line after that statement above (and having no knowledge that the “previously closed flower” had bloomed in truth that morning; healing was underway).

    PhD said: “Sarcasm is a dead giveaway for low self esteem”

    Pins dropped; no sounds made. Silence. He did not know the size of the shoe he had chomped down his throat.

    In his need to be the focal point, he became the fool.
    He never knew.

    I see the same occur in comments today that have nothing to do with a post, and everything to do with a post person.
    In general, no harm or earthshaking going on.
    But in this discussion on Christ, you can be sure non believers are uttering to themselves “They cannot even agree among themselves; who needs this crap” and they walk away.

    Opportunity lost just to score a point. Like my Phd interrupter making sure that little Joy should come from Phillipians; but lots of Joy should come from him. The Lord apparently thought otherwise and set the record straight; painfully straight.

  10. Just as on Erie Blog Watch, you lost me again. I have no idea what you are talking about.

    BTG, my point about the snake handlers is you can probably find a single line in the Bible to support justify just about anything. And while there are many great points that can be derived from the Bible in that way, sometimes a single line is lost without the context around of the lines around it.

  11. @ Lucas

    Ray’s post was ecumenical since he was describing that his sources of inspiration came from a few different religious backgrounds. My response discusses my perspective of my religion without attacking or calling into question Ray’s faith.

    My point is that by raising the ecumenical aspect of Ray’s post and insinuating that the comments (including mine and Sean’s) was somehow criticizing his faith, is out of place. No one is saying their faith was better. In fact this isn’t a battle of religions. I simply felt the need to respond to his position about the rosary so as to share my understanding for the benefit of Ray and others. That’s all. I don’t understand why you need to stifle the conversation by criticizing those of us who want to share our understanding of our own faith.

    As for the rest of your comment which is largely and completely unrelated to the discussion, you can contact me via email if you want to discuss those issues. You know where to find me.

  12. I note a direct reference to you richardz in my comment, just as you noted reference directly to me. Lamenting a direct comment AFTER, seems futile, since a specific comment was directed and replied by both of us.

    I have noted an experience as a Sunday School teacher that has added to my faith experience. If you feel you can do that as faith expression, surely you will not deny me the opportunity, richardz,

    The paragraph beginning “On repetitive prayer….” is in support of rosary prayer. I like the Memorare too.
    Your bristle makes no sense.

    In no part of any of my comments is there reference to snake handlers. To imply that any comment I have made is directed at Sean is a false implication. I swing wide of his comments and let BTG deal with the minutia and misunderstandings continually presented from that author. Tho Sean and I have discussed topics on Christmas origin here, and Republican concerns at Radio Free JoJo, in this post (where you write I made comment on yours and Seans faith). that simply does not, and did not occur.

    I write on my experience.

    And richardz, when you write on Matthew 26:39-44, I have outlined that prayer (1) is different in (prayer (2) of that section. They are not repetitive in the least. They express completely different sentiments. Most people miss that. You missed it again; even after it is capitalized in the variation.
    I cannot hold a Sunday School just for you.

    With respect to emailing you direct, I have done this with your colleagues to no avail. Your public pronouncements (directed at me) are far less harmonious than theirs. I see no reason to contact in that fashion and having a private lambast from you versus your public criticism galore.

    Finally, my comment that has solicited reply from Sean and you has no reference to Sean or his false and inflammatory writings. Keep him out of it and I will gladly do the same. In general, I skip reading his comments in the thread; for good reason.

    There is a lamentable difference with today’s Catholics and Protestants that is unseemly in the Body of Christ. Personally, I feel that BTG position on repetitive prayer a minor issue. Transubstantiation, Baptism by sprinkle or dunking, and a host of issues (priests, penance, etc) divide the two branches of Christ’s Church far more than prayer. This post simply picked a minor scab anew.

    I requested his church time and place to see first hand what is being expressed. Toy picker caught it and answered.

    I have also made no claim that any single comment here stifles the conversation. (That is the duty of Erie Blogs, regardless of the topic.)

    Sean having no idea what I am talking about here, is indicative of his capacity not my expression. I would be happy to compile a list of bloggers saying welcome and please advise more thoughts:
    among them”
    Outside Erie – first Comment of the Week

    Jenson – created Comment of the week and stopped as “no one could top Mr. Lucas’ comment”

    Jenson also cross filed a comment of mine with her, at Jim Berlins – to my surprise.

    Sunshine and Moonlight – Fabrizio saying I do not know you but would like to. You are a thought provoking write.

    Usa Today

    NY Times

    Slate magazine

    Wall Street Journal

    Erie Media Go Round – Tirak took a comment and turned it into a post (Cool Hand Luke)

    I could go on, the point being that there are too many who find insight or enjoyment into my comments. If you do not, look in the mirror and ask why you cannot (reference is to Sean and richardz, among other self appointed critique folks). Or, simply do not read what I attach my name too.

    That avoidance system works beautifully for me when I see a Sean post, tho I am also willing to correct his glaring mistruths in any forum.

    How about you let your comments speak for themselves and I will do the same with mine.

    The only one with difficulty to date was Peter Panepento who uses a Danny to English dictionary to interpret. For a guy who can not understand them, he also printed one hell of a lot of comments made by me.

    Try this: Go to Global Erie and hit Ashley Weber column on 9/11. There are a series of Google ads to the left of my writing. Had I written zero that day, not one ad would appear where they do. None are on Ashley’s communication. ALL are on my communication. Good comments solicite advertisement.
    Good posts rarely do. There is no proven audience to the post. Like it or not, that is the guideline employed.

    To be clear, my opening in comment 3 above,specifically rules out Sean. My lack of comment on snake handlers does the same. (I will here; it is a woeful misunderstanding of scripture. In Pure Interest, the young author wrote recently on a single line about spiritual warfare in her life. (reference her annual review on her life. She gets it).

    And, in Meta cafe, there is room to write on the topic of the month. In the month it has been open, precisely 2 have written on Samaritan or meeting needs of the community as a Christian. Guess who 1 of the 2 is.

    Jim Berlin’s longest and best post/comment series is on homelessness. I find my comments throughout. Apparently, I have no problem with anyone disembling their faith thoughts, for I often do the same.

    Sean, I was sorry to see you blow your blog at Erie Blog Watch. A little moderating would have saved the day on your part as blog producer.

    Oh, you say it is not your blog?

    You say the blog is Anonymous?

    Well, then your comments that you do not understand me at EBW, have the same credibility as me saying you are the EBW owner. Zero. Anon is anon, despite the continual guessing games of poster at that dinosaur site.

  13. Wow, it seems I hit a nerve! I spend so much time posting on blogs because I was crippled in an accident, what’s your excuse?

  14. Danny,

    Thanks for your comments on Matthew 26. While there is some repetition here, there does appear to be more going on than mere repetition.

    I have to ask you not to bring complaints about your treatment from richardz and sean (or any others) in other blogs to this blog. Tempers do flare on the Internet, because it is a “cold” medium without body language and facial expression, and it is important to recognize the limitations of the medium. I know of a number of people who have an annoying Internet or e-mail persona, who I get along fine with in real life. (Some people may feel the same about me.) So let’s try extra hard to keep it peaceful, even going the extra mile when it is hard to.

    When it comes to my part in the Body of Christ, sometimes I feel like the pyloric valve.

  15. RichardZ.,

    In response to post #7, I have a few thoughts.

    My only direct experience of the Rosary is that sometimes if I have my alarm clock set wrong, I will wake up in the morning to someone reciting the rosary over the radio. In this radio recitation, you only get the “Hail Mary’s” (note: I am doing my best to keep Mary out of this) and the “Our Father’s”, and maybe the “Glory Be’s”. However, there was no reflection on the divine mysteries, so the repetitive aspects of the Rosary were amplified.

    I shall have to ask some IRL friends who are (or were) Catholic how the rosary worked (or didn’t work) for them.

    I think it should not be too hard to distinguish between the repetition of Psalm 136, the repetition of Matthew 26, and the repetition of the Rosary. We can agree that not all repetition is bad. Matthew 6:7-8 says not to repeat your prayers like the pagans do. (The closest thing I know to a pagan repetitive chant is the Hare Krishna chant.)

    Sometimes, like in Psalm 136, repetition is a natural part of language that amplifies the meanings of words. (Think of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech.”) Sometimes a request is repeated, such as in the Garden of Gethsemane, until the answer is accepted. I don’t see the Rosary as being like either of these.

    Here is a question for you. Let’s suppose there was a Catholic who did not pray the rosary at all. Assume also that he devoted the same amount of time that other Cathlics spend on the rosary to other prayers. Would this be bad for his soul?

  16. “Let’s suppose there was a Catholic who did not pray the rosary at all. Assume also that he devoted the same amount of time that other Catholics spend on the rosary to other prayers. Would this be bad for his soul?”

    Not at all. I’m sure some Catholics are bothered by the repetition of the rosary and therefore do not choose to recite it but instead, pray in a different manner (as funny as that sounds in light of my previous comments). It is important that a person continual pursue a growing relationship with God. Some may choose to do that by praying the rosary, while others choose to ‘talk’ to God as if in an ordinary conversation (colloquial), while still others may find no solace in prayer so they choose to do good works since they find a connection with God in this manner (Mother Theresa, I believe, did this).

    That being said I do think a Catholic (or anyone for that matter) is missing out on developing a unique relationship and understanding with God by not learning and reciting the rosary. Granted it is something that takes some time to become comfortable with but it is highly rewarding. Here is a short snippet from the Catholic Catechism explaining the advantage of praying the rosary, while also shedding some light on my comment in the above paragraph:

    “There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly, lest they come to resemble the three first kinds of soil in the parable of the sower. But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.
    Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.”

    CCC, Paragraphs 2707-08.

  17. But why would you want to meditate, when you’re trying to pray? That’s what I don’t get. Prayer is communication with God; when I want to talk to someone, I don’t reflect on that person’s attributes in order to gain a deeper appreciation of that person; I talk TO the person, using communicative language. When I want to sit and think about how much I love that person and how I can deepen my relationship with him, I don’t use the medium of communication with him.

    For example, I think my husband would find something lacking in the conversation if I just sat there and said, over and over, “Honey, I love you. I love the way you care for me, I love the way you live your life, and please keep on blessing me by doing that.” And then just keep saying that, over and over, without variation. It might be fine for me to sit and think that on my own, but it wouldn’t be a reasonable way to spend time with my husband, when I could actually be communicating my present thoughts to him.

    That’s why repetition of set forms as prayer (apart from the kind of heartfelt begging that Jesus exemplifies) doesn’t make sense to me. As meditation, sure — that’s a Christian thing to do. But I can’t get my mind around how that fits into the act of prayer.

  18. “My only direct experience of the Rosary is that sometimes if I have my alarm clock set wrong, I will wake up in the morning to someone reciting the rosary over the radio.”

    I’m no expert but didn’t someone, Freud maybe, say something along the lines of, “nothing happens accidentally?” Maybe the event described is your inner yearning for the Rosary.

    To the Mrs.
    For example, I think my husband would find something lacking in the conversation if I just sat there and said, over and over, “Honey, I love you. I love the way you care for me, I love the way you live your life, and please keep on blessing me by doing that.”

    You do say it over and over, with your deeds. Jack Chick says Catholics are destined for hell because we think good works bring salvation but I disagree. Good works are a way of saying I love you.

  19. Sean,

    You can’t imagine what hearing the Rosary repeated at 5:45 a.m. on a Sunday morning, in a monotone, by someone whose voice is totally unsuited for radio, does to me. At that time my mind is often unconsciously thinking about church things, since I usually teach adult Sunday School.

    It probably has the same effect as a short film based on a Jack Chick tract would have on you, if it was inserted into your unconscious mind.

  20. @ SheWhoPicksUpToys

    Sorry I wasn’t able to respond sooner but it’s been a very busy week.

    Your spouse analogy is an interesting one although I find it really difficult to draw a comparison to have a relationship with an omnipotent, all loving God. The best I can say is this: Our relationship with our spouse is multifaceted. Sure we talk in order to communicate our love, dislike, frustration, etc., with each other. But at the same time we also communicate through touch, looks, good deeds, favors, etc. The sum of our relationships are not only through talking but all of these many things. Also, it’s important that we are able to empathize and sympathize with each other. It’s important that we take time to understand where the other person is coming from, what kind of day they had, and so on, so when the time comes for verbal communication we excel. Oh, and I’m sure there is one repetition that would get your point across to your husband. Saying “I love you! I love you! I love you!” Try it and see if it isn’t more powerful than just saying it once.

    Repetition is a method of meditating. It helps to slow the heart rate and breathing, block out distractions, and in the case of repeating a prayer, helps us to focus on God. Meditation as a way of praying is only one method of communicating with God. It is a way to understand Him and what he expects and wants from us. We invite God into our prayer. Here’s an example: in the Joyful Mystery contemplating Christ’s birth and early life, the fourth mystery is a meditation of when Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord. On separate occassions I have thought about how proud the parents must have been during this ritual (similar to how I felt during my son’s recent baptism); how God was making a statement about the importance of practicing religion; the importance of family; and the humbling of this Holy Family before God. These have all come to me at different times and I’m sure I will come to know other new realizations.

    By meditating in the presence of Christ, I have come to know Him better, pray more fully, and appreciate the life he has given me. I cannot say that I would have gained all of this by a simple vocal prayer (of course there is contemplative prayer but that involves self-reflection). In one final example, a person may choose to supplement his prayer life by watching the sunset. There may be absolutely no verbal (mental) communication but you can sure bet that a person can grasp the Glory of God by watching one of those Presque’ Isle sunsets.

  21. I guess I was thinking that everything we do that is good that reflects on our relationship with God isn’t “prayer,” though, just as everything I do that enhances my relationship with my husband isn’t “conversation.” It would be weird to call cooking dinner “conversation;” I find it odd to engage in internal reflection that communicates nothing specific about my thoughts and feelings to God, and call it “prayer.”

    One other thing — in the scripture passage on prayer Jesus specifically outlines for us the way in which we should pray. Why are we even concerned about whether repeating a change dozens of times is “vain repetition” or not, when it doesn’t appear (at least to me) to fit anywhere into the way Jesus said to pray? There is nothing in the Lord’s prayer that would, understood naturally, lead you to saying the rosary, or some Protestantly-correct version, or anything else, dozens of times over and over. So why not just follow Jesus’ model?

    I realize that probably sounds provocative, and it’s not really meant to be, but that’s what it comes down to for me — why not simply start where Jesus starts, instead of somewhere else?

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