Vain Repetitions

Saying God and Spiritual Religious sounding words in repetition.
A blank uninspired mind can say things from the memory like a tape recording.
The mind can call upon a principle or thought pattern, that by logical analysis appears to be the right thing to say given the reasoned evidence.

Our minds are complex and able calculators of reasoning processes which is healthy for us to discover and solve problems.
So it is no wonder that some classical thinking was developed by the big thinkers in history and we have much written studies by the philosophers of the ages at our disposal to gain ways of the reasoning process.
Well that is fine, if that is all there is to it and man is at the centre of his own universe like they believed in Classical Greek times, so it comes back to the Greek mind of reason and allowing the mind to take ascendancy, so it controls how we think.
God is spirit and we relate to him from our spirit.
Our heart is a connection to our spirit, without trying to break it down to exact science, there are the interconnections and overlapping of our substance and makeup of the human being into three distinct parts that are one. We are a complex creation comprised of many parts to make a whole, each serving an essential part of the whole and we need all of these elements to make us to be the whole person.
Sometimes we just need to learn how to operate holistically.
The memory is there for a purpose and the mind is a brilliant construction, which is made in a awesome fashion to be admired and not wasted.
However, if we are in a habit replayed over and over in a loop, the essential part of our being, the imagination is not active, resulting in machine like monotonous behaviour.
So, merely rattling off a bunch of words from our memory can become a ritualistic practice, which may not be incorporate the whole man.
The problem is not repetition on its own, as this is a legitimate method of learning as it instills a new pattern in our memory that we dont lose and it can be part of us like a desired new behaviour.
No, what is said is vain repetitions, so the key word is vain, or the descriptive word is vain and vain means pointless or puffed up beyond its proper place.

The Hebrews in Old Testament Times were taught to meditate the word of God.
Which can be mumbling or musing the word in your mind and this is a way of getting it into our being, a form of memorisation that is useful for the word of God to become part of who we are.
So what did Jesus mean when He said vain repetitions?
I think if we rely on our memory and mind to figure things out and speak from this department only, without engaging our whole man, the heart, spirit, imagination, we will miss out on creating a faith filled statement that will make a creative impact.

Applied Maths versus Pure Maths - when I was learning mathematics at school at the differential calculus level, mathematics was divided into two distinct fields the pure and the applied.
I think the pure was stimulating, as it explored abstract concepts, but you never saw the application of it in the real world. Then there was the applied maths which was very scientific and practical.
The Greek way of thinking has prevailed in the western developed world, working through history and the great Roman Empire of the early church times and then after the dark ages came the enlightenment and the renaissance, followed by the sciences of breakthrough theories, where the world was no longer flat and we revolved around the sun in a galaxy, one of many theories discovered by enlightened minds, then into modern times of the great industrial revolution. Now, in modern times we have the binary digital genius of the great computer technology, advancements now and into the future hopefully will move towards harnessing atomic energy, for an efficient and economically sound brave new world.
However, we can see that within greek thinking, there is a huge leaning to the reasoning faculties of the mind and this can be brilliant, but does not fully incorporate the creative imagination and the vision centre of our being.
Then the Paradox and a befuddlement of the great think tank of civilisation! The God connection has provided to the early breakthrough scientists who as a basis for their quest for knowledge, actually depended on a God who created all; resulted in a corresponding enlightenment of some of the greatest discoveries and understanding of the principles of the universe that we live in.

Looking at Proverbs the great wisdom book of the bible, we can break learning and experience into not just two dimensions, but three, which is knowledge and then understanding and finally wisdom. We read
Prov 3:19,20 -
19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;
20 By His knowledge the depths were broken up,
And clouds drop down the dew.
Proverbs 2:5,6 -
5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
Proverbs 2:9-12 -
9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.
10 When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
11 Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
12 To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things,
We see that there are three areas of learning and development and knowing what is the right way to go, wisdom, understanding and knowledge.
If I was to make a comparison, reasoning and the greek classical method of knowing things would arrive at knowledge about something based on an understanding from the capacity of the mind, this means it will go as far as the limitations of the mind.
Wisdom is knowing the right way to go about things, seeing the whole picture if you like and it is understood by visual means in our minds eye as well as a knowing that comes to us.
We make contact with the spiritual realm and wisdom is available from God, connecting us with the the heart of the matter.
Wisdom is interesting as it cant be figured out by the limited human reasonings alone, but it will come and enhance the understanding of our mind and then we can apply the knowledge gained.
We see wisdom is necessary to enter your heart, as it will open up understanding to keep you from what?
"A man speaking perverse things" - so what is perverse?
One thing it could refer to is the ineffective, vain repetitions of the reasoning of mankind without a dependancy on God in a performance mentality.
Philipians 2:15 -
15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world
Crooked and perverse, means that you harm and are to be blamed as you have depended on your own reasoning to rule and govern and affect the generation you live in.
Matthew 17:17 -
17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”
What is perverse but thinking that is stinking or crooked and does not produce faith in God but relies on the reasonings of man to work it all out.
Even the disciples were subject to this thinking and fell into its grip when faced with the need for a mighty miracle beyond the usual science of the physical world on their level.
So what do we need to do when faced with the impossible?-
Proverbs 3:5-7 -
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
Depending on our own interpretation and understanding is a big wobbly and the folly of a limited belief system for us to follow. Like we are at the centre of the universe and all else revolves about us, as we once believed the earth was in the dark ages.
I am not referring to memorization and meditating, where you absorb the word into your being and the word becomes part of you, this is also an important key to spiritual growth.
I think we can easily slip into auto pilot, like sometimes in this press button world and there is your answer, we may mechaniclly pull up like a computer, a memory location, or a word from a file and we think that is our answer.

Havent you ever experienced hearing some very religious sounding words being spoken and although it sounds polished, it has no real life changing power in it and it just falls flat.
Where do you discern these things? In your heart, which is from the spirit.
You probably have at times like me, made some really fine sounding prayers and have known inside they were going nowhere and had no faith to them - faith has substance and if our words have no substance then they are vain.
Or at times and I can regrettably admit that I have done this, when in a situation keep repeating the word God, or a series of words with say, help!, or whatever and repeating it over and over.
If you are with someone and you started repeating their name over and over and saying the same sentence in a pleading or desperate fashion, they would probably not feel very comfortable with you, especially when you are not speaking directly to them, but to the air and they would feel like, "you don't know me very well, perhaps you don't even trust me to do what I said I would".
This would be very irritating to listen to, don't you think?

James 1:5-8 -
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
You see where vain repetitions creep into our so called religious practices and words, they contain no faith at all and would irritate the Lord.

This is not referring to, when we are sincerely trying to get into the groove of getting before God, or making a request and we are trying to find the words or catch the wind of the direction of where He is taking us. Like an engine that needs oil and to be kick started, it takes a few kicks and turning over, a little spark here and there before it finally kicks in.
We can be struggling with things in our life and all looks hopeless and the despair can kick in and we begin to strive for answers.
Sometimes, emotions can be very expressive and in desperation we may repeat ourselves, but this is from the heart and passionate, not a piece of reasoning that is just vainly expressed.
God isnt looking for the perfect format of praying and being in faith, He looks for a sincere heart, we cant judge something by external appearance, but by discernment, so please I am not referring to heart felt prayers that may not sound perfect.
We need to move into faith from our immature ways and we are simply not there straight away and God knows where we are at and is a merciful Father to us, He will lead us to the right way.
We are on the road to maturity and are on a learning process, so like learning to walk, it takes time and practice to get in the swing of things. God knows our hearts if we are sincerely seeking Him and wanting to please Him, He wont condemn us.
Very different is when in -
Matthew 15:9 -
And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the time when Jesus graced mankind by coming down from His usual high place of Authority to be with us on earth.
He came with purpose and a mission of love to save us all. So what happens? The very religious leaders who represent God to the people, clashed with Jesus, as they talked the talk, but their hearts were far from God and there was no corresponding walking the walk with Jesus.
Colossians 2:18
Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
When the heart is disconnected from God, the carnal mind takes over and this is when religious sounding people become directed by a false appearance of good, leading to vain activity, a worship in deception.
So we are talking about being spirit led not being soulishly led or directed by carnal thinking.
Romans 8:12-14 -
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
So we can put to death the misdeeds of our carnality, that is vain speaking and acts, how? By being led by the Spirit. This is a maturing process of developing into the faith filled sons and daughters of God, it is training our tongue to follow the ways of the spirit man and not our own fleshly mind.

There are instances in the Bible where the people of God where instructed to repeat a series of words or actions like the walls of Jericho coming down through following a repeated process and instruction from God, It is OK when God has given you an instruction and you have the word in your heart, it is alive and you can speak to the mountain for as long as it takes until the victory comes. Amen.
Joshua was instructed that: -
Josh 1:8 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
We just don't make a formula out of someone elses process,
like if we felt that a raise in pay or a promotion is due and we began walking around the office building blowing a trumpet and on the seventh day of repeating this action we walked around the boss seven times blowing a trumpet, what would be the response?
Well like every area that we need to grow in and remove bad habits from our character, we simply need to go before our Heavenly Father; say we are sorry and ask for His strength to behave in the right manner and He forgives us and helps us to move upwards.
Lets put our limited thinking, ways, behind us and make a bold statement, in how we speak and conduct ourselves with requests made to God.
This doesnt mean when you have been trained by an anointed man or woman of God and they showed you a method that is proven, you are not placing faith in the method alone, but the author of the method - Jesus, so with faith this works, even if you repeat word for word and include the mannerisms, again we need discernment, if it is by the Spirit of God then it is OK.
Be loud, be soft that is OK, we tend to imitate and follow our mentors and that is fine, when we really get into the flow, we will probably become quite unique, but if not it doesnt matter, what matters is the anointing and the demonstration of power by the Spirit of God, not the actual technique or style.
We are talking about the difference between operating by the Spirit, or trying to muster up soul power from our own strength or reasoning.
At the end of the day did God move or not for the miracle required? Let us bear fruit in His Name.
Lets endeavour - to walk as He Walked - and talk as He Talked.

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credits to:- Bible Gateway
New King James Version was used for most Bible references.

Copyright © January 2012.