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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2007Printer-Friendly
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Praying with Rosary Beads a Vain Repetition
AUDIO BROADCAST: The Rosary: Vain Repetition
Let the Bible Speak Radio
Dr. Alan Cairns

My introduction to the use of the Rosary came when I was just a teenager. Our next door neighbors were devout Roman Catholics. We were good friends and our two families were a constant help to each other. So it was not unusual for me to be in their home, as I was at the time I have in mind, when the children were "saying their prayers." I thought I knew all about children saying their prayers: you went to your room, knelt by your bed, closed your eyes and recited the prayers that your parents had taught you, including the Lord's Prayer and a string of petitions like "God bless mommy, God bless Daddy" and so on. But those kids saying the Rosary was something very different.

The Rosary is a string of beads that have been specially blessed so that when a Roman Catholic uses them to count a set of prescribed prayers he receives a special indulgence. These prayers are composed of 15 Paternosters or Our Fathers (the Lord's Prayer, addressed to God the Father), 15 Glorias and 150 Hail Marys. As I watched our neighbor family count off the beads and recite the prayers, it was quite a revelation. It was obvious that the recitation was entirely by rote and I began to grasp something of the mind-numbing ritual of Romish worship.

The Lord Jesus Christ specifically warned His disciples against vain repetition. Now just remember what the Rosary, one of the basic elements in the personal devotion of Roman Catholics, calls for. You do not simply pray the Lord's Prayer. No, you repeat it again and again. And you recite a total of 150 Hail Marys-ten times more prayers being addressed to Mary than to God the Father. In the Hail Mary, the worshiper prays as follows:  "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen"

I will do no more than make passing mention of the fact that the Bible nowhere authorizes prayer to Mary or any of the saints. God's command is, "Call upon ME." Nor does the Scripture warrant giving Mary the title, "The Mother of God." These things are pernicious, popish inventions. What I want to stress is that the emphasis on the endless repetition of the same words from a prescribed form of prayer, day after day and year after year, is as blatant a form of vain repetition as you can imagine. It is calculated to kill any freshness or spontaneity in personal devotion.

So here we have the fundamental form of Roman devotion and what is it? It is a vain repetition of words addressed for the most part to one who cannot hear or answer. Thank God for the Reformation that delivered us from such mindless ritual and led us to the pure word of God where we have the Lord's own clear instructions on approaching God. Having said this, I will end with a question: How many Protestants who would never think of using the Rosary still rarely rise above the level of vain repetitions? What about the seemingly endless repetitions of many Charismatics, many of whom use the name of Jesus as an incantation, almost as a mantra? God says He does not hear us for our much speaking. He hears us for Christ's sake. He answers us according to His will on Christ's merits. Whether you use the Rosary or some other form of mindless prayer ritual, remember vain repetition may make you feel better for the moment by stultifying your conscience, but it is entirely empty, void of any spiritual good.

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