«In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty» (Proverbs 14:23).
Salvation by its own merits is one of the main traits of false religions throughout history. To this day, many people believe that they can gain salvation on their own. In Jesus’s time, pagan people believed that prayers provided merits in front of their gods. So the longer the prayer was, the more righteous they appeared before others. Over time, the Pharisees were fascinated by how impressive these religious public spectacles were, so they began to imitate them. Suddenly, in Israel began to be seen Pharisees who inside the synagogues and in the middle of the streets lifted up long and grand prayers, adorned with a florid language and an emotional performance. Of course, they did not go unnoticed in front of the people, who looked at them with astonishment and admiration.
Jesus referred to this situation in a resounding way: «And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words» (Matthew 6:5—7). The Lord felt that what the Pharisees did was a sign of hypocrisy, assuring that a private prayer was much more productive. He also said that even in private, long, repetitive prayers were worthless. The Lord used the Greek verb batalogeo, which means «talking a lot or using prolonged words without meaning,» «using too many words,» «speaking for a long time.»
What are your prayers like before God? Are they repetitive and meaningless phrases that do not reflect intelligent ideas? Or are these statements that you have copied from your parents or other believers and that sound good when you say them? The truth is that the way you pray reflects what’s inside you. «The repetition of set, customary phrases, when the heart feels no need of God, is of the same character as the ‘vain repetitions’ of the heathen»—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, ch. 4, p. 86.
Today open your heart to the Lord as to a friend. Tell Him how you really feel and don’t hide anything from Him. He will hear you.