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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Repetitions in Prayer

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These are forbidden by our Lord, and were well styled "vain," if they consisted, as among the Mohammedans, in the repetition of words and phrases. Richardson mentions an old man who travelled with him, who was thought to be of peculiar sanctity, and most devout in prayer; "Certainly he did not pray in secret, communing with his heart, but called aloud with all his might, and repeated the words as fast as his tongue could give them utterance. The form and words of his prayer were the same with those of the others; but this good man had made a vow to repeat certain words of the prayer a given number of times, both night and morning. The word rabboni, for example, answering to our word Lord, he would bind himself to repeat a hundred or two hundred times, twice a day; and, accordingly, went on in the hearing of all the party; and, on his knees sometimes with his face directed steadily to heaven, and at other times bowing down to the ground, and calling out rabboni, rabboni, rabboni, rabboni, rabboni, &c, as fast as he could articulate the words after each other, like a school boy going through his task, not like a man who, praying with the heart and the understanding also, continues longer on his knees, in the rapture of devotion, whose soul is a flame of fire, enkindled by his Maker, and fixing upon his God, like Jacob, will not let him go until he bless him. Having settled his accounts with the word rabboni, which the telling of his beads enabled him to know when he had done, he proceeded to dispose of his other vows in a similar manner. Allah houakbar, perhaps came next, ‘God most great;' and he would go on, as with the other, Allah houakbar, Allah houakbar, Allah houakbar, Allah houakbar, &c, repeating them as fast as he could frame his organs to pronounce them."

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Repetitions in Prayer'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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