Battalogeo is not a word you use every day. One reason we don’t use it is that it is Greek.
However it may be something that you experience every day. You do it or you hear other people do it.
It means vain repetitions and empty phrases.
Jesus was very concerned with battalogeo. In His day, there were people who lead the Jewish religious communities who used battalogeo quite often: Pharisees. You know about them. They wanted everyone to know they were praying often, making their prayer a public, a theatrical performance. John Stott says the Pharisees liked to make a big deal of everything, even giving a donation, marching trumpeters in front of themselves, on the way to donating and prayer. But when the prayers happened, they seemed lacking. They seemed rote. They seemed repetitious. They seemed to be babbling [battalogeo].
Jesus had a problem with prayer that was less than heartfelt, words without meaning.
In my experience with other religions, I have often wondered about the Hindu who chants. It seems like a mindless repetition of sound as the chanter descends into a mindless state. [They would argue that meditation is not mindless].
I have wondered about the Catholic rosary as the devout Catholic tells of the beads and the telling becomes automatic.
I have heard some pastors pray over and over and they use the same phrases in every prayer in every circumstance and they pray quickly, especially over food. Are they hungry?
I have heard some church members pray the Lord’s Prayer and they have done it many times. Have they done it so many times that it is battalogeo? Are they thinking about the important words of the prayer that Jesus taught us?
Let’s shift gears.
We are studying a book about love, expressing love to people and having people express love to us. We are reading about expressing love for our Lord and our Lord expressing love to us.
Have you ever told someone you love them and it was mindless?
I thought so. You have.
Some would say even a mindless “I love you” is ok. Some people have told me they never get an “I love you” from anyone, at any time.
Mindless is better than nothing.
But is it?
What is the value of mindless babbling?
Matthew 6: 7-8: do not be like them [pagans], for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
Mean “I love you” as you affirm others, give your undivided attention, surprise with a gift, perform an act of service or offer a warm hug.
“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
You need love. The person receiving your “language” needs love.
God needs to hear your love.
You need to experience His.
*thoughts for this post inspired by one of my favorite writers, John Stott