Short prayers (Mt 6:7-6:8)

“When you are praying,

Do not heap up empty phrases,

As the gentiles do.

They think

That they will be heard

Because of their many words.

Do not be like them!

Your Father knows

What you need

Before you ask him.”

 

Προσευχόμενοι δὲ μὴ βατταλογήσητε ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί· δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται.

μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς· οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν.

 

This is another saying of Jesus, only found in Matthew, that serves as the introduction to the “Our Father” prayer.  When the followers of Jesus were praying (Προσευχόμενοι δὲ), they should not babble or use vain empty words (μὴ βατταλογήσητε).  Matthew used this Greek word “βατταλογήσητε” that only appears here in all the biblical literature.  This was a kind of long babbling stammering rote type of prayer that some gentiles used (ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί).  Thus, once again Matthew indicated that these gentles were not part of the Jesus followers.  These long-winded gentile non-Jewish people thought that they had to use a lot of words to be heard (δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται).  The Jesus followers should not be the same or like them (μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς), since their divine Father (οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν) knew what they needed before they even asked (ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν).

Zophar chimes in (Job 11:1-11:6)Zophar chimes in (Job 11:1-11:6)

“Then Zophar the Naamathite answered.

‘Should a multitude of words go unanswered?

Should one full of talk be vindicated?

Should your babble put others to silence?

When you mock,

Shall no one shame you?

You say.

‘My conduct is pure.

I am clean in God’s sight.’

But O that God would speak!

If he would open his lips to you!

He would tell you the secrets of wisdom!

Wisdom is many-sided.

Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.’”

Finally we hear from Zophar. He cannot let so many words go unanswered. He seems to chide Job harsher than the other 2 comforters. Talk does not itself vindicate. If Job continued to babble, was everyone to be silent? Someone had to speak out. Job had protested that he was innocent in God’s sight. But has he heard God say that? God could tell you in his secret wisdom the many sides of things. God is merciful and exacts less than the guilty deserve. Notice the link between God and wisdom, which is key to the wisdom or sapiential biblical literature.