On my more serious, theological blog (New Creation Person) I had written an article last week on why the Lord's Prayer didn't explicitly include thanksgiving. In that article, I was trying to make the point that Jesus taught the disciples the Lord's Prayer to combat two errors concerning prayer that was going on during Jesus' day: 1) The ostentatious display of verbose, public prayer in order to be heard by men and thus receive your glory from men; and 2) the repetitive chantings of the pagans.After making that point, I mention that Jesus gives the Lord's Prayer as a corrective to these two erroneous methods of prayer. I then mention that the Lord's Prayer isn't something to be simply recited verbatim. Here are my words from the article:
Jesus’ corrective against these incorrect modes of prayer was to give his disciples a model prayer. Now you’re not praying the Lord’s Prayer by simply reciting it – a la the Roman Catholics and their Rosary Beads. (Another side note: This does not mean that corporate recital of the Lord’s Prayer is wrong. Jesus is, however, referring to private prayer, not corporate prayer.)
I was careful to mention that reciting the Lord's Prayer in a congregational setting is not wrong, but we want to guard against using the Lord's Prayer as a formula instead as a model for prayer.One of the comments on the article was from a friend of mine who is a recent convert to Roman Catholicism from Protestantism, who took exception to what I wrote. His claim was that the comment regarding the Rosary was a "cheap shot" against Catholic practices. I won't go into the details of the exchange between my friend and myself, you can read the comment exchange on the article yourself. But after trading a couple of comments back and forth, I did a little research on the Rosary. My contention is that the Rosary isn't prayer per se. It's more of a meditative tool to help the individual contemplate the "Mysteries of the Rosary." Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article:
The Rosary (from Latin rosarium, meaning "rose garden") or "garland of roses" is a popular and traditional Catholic devotion. The term denotes both a set of prayer beads and the devotional prayer itself, which combines vocal (or silent) prayer and meditation. The prayers consist of repeated sequences of the Lord's Prayer followed by ten prayings of the Hail Mary and a single praying of "Glory Be to the Father" and is sometimes accompanied by the Fatima Prayer; each of these sequences is known as a decade. The praying of each decade is accompanied by meditation on one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which are events in the lives of Jesus Christ and his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Note the comment about "repeated sequences of the Lord's Prayer followed by ten prayings of the Hail Mary." When I read this, I can't help but think that Jesus didn't intend for his model prayer to be part of a ritual in which it is continually repeated along with the Hail Mary. I then consulted a website I ran across several months ago called Just for Catholics. This site is run by a gentleman named Joe Mizzi, and he is a former Roman Catholic turned Protestant Evangelical, and he created this website to give biblical answers to Roman Catholic doctrinal errors. Here is what he had to say about the Rosary:
Question: I was taught that the rosary is scriptural because all 15 mysteries tell about the life of Christ. The "hail Mary" (the first part anyway) is taken directly from the Bible. Your thoughts?Answer: Consider first of all, the form of the rosary. It is 10 repetitions of the 'Hail Mary' for five times. What did our Lord say about repetitious prayer? "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 6:6,7). Prayer is the spontaneous expression of the heart before God – of praise and thanksgiving, confession and petition. Repeating the same prayer over and over again tends to dull the mind. Such repetitions are vain and pagan. Secondly, and more importantly, note that Jesus told us to address our prayer to God. "Pray to your Father." There is no example or permission in the whole Bible of Christians praying to anyone except God. And for a good reason. God is able to hear our prayers from heaven (there must be thousands of people praying at this very moment), because He knows all things. "whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone…then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know – for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men" (1 Kings 8:38,39). God knows our heart and He hears our prayer. But Mary is not God. She is a finite human being. She does not know the hearts of all people. God alone knows them. "For You ALONE know the hearts of all the sons of men." Thirdly, when Catholics pray to Mary: "Pray for us sinners, now and in the hour of our death," they are placing their trust for salvation in the hands of a creature, rather in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Mary herself did not do so because she acknowledged God as her Savior (Luke 1:47). The Catholic Catechism explains the significance of the 'Hail Mary': 'Our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender the hour of our death wholly to her care' (paragraph 2677). Please find Act 7:59 in your Bible and read about a Christian at the very moment before his death. To whose care did he commit his spirit before he died? And then ask yourself, to whom am I surrendering the hour of my death – to Mary (a saved creature) or to the Lord Jesus (our God and Savior)?
Now my Catholic friend, like most devoted Catholics, thinks that Roman Catholic tradition is this consistent, monolithic "thing" that can be traced all the way back to the practices of the Apostles and the Apostolic church; i.e., that there is an unbroken chain stretching back 2,000 years. I think the more you look, the more you will find that the Roman Catholic Church embraces practices that are not only antithetical to what the Church in the first several centuries practiced, but also antithetical to what Jesus and the Apostles taught.