“I’m one with the Force, and the Force is with me.” This is what one character says in the movie, “Rogue One”, a countless number of times. He’s a monk, of sorts, in tune with the Force. And while by no means is he even meant to represent anything like Christianity (Star Wars religion is more like Buddhism and Taoism), it teaches us an important lesson about how not to pray.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. – Matthew 6:5-8
It seems as if the Jewish religious leaders at the time picked up a method from the pagan religions of the time, and that is the practice of repetitive prayer. They would repeat phrases over and over again to appease their gods. Think back to when Elijah faced off with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). The prophets of Baal prayed from morning until noon, “O Baal, answer us.” Of course, the false god did not answer.
The Savior teaches against this perverted form of prayer, which was even being done in public for the applause of men. Repetitive prayer is not only useless for us, but it is also an affront to God. The pagans do it, because they think that through it, they will be heard. But God is in secret (omnipresent) and sees in secret (omniscient), and He doesn’t need us to get His attention. In fact, He knows our needs before we ask. He is able to do more than we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). We mustn’t treat Him any less.
It makes one wonder why Catholics are told to repeat Hail Mary or the Lord’s Prayer over and over again. God is not impressed with repetition. He desires genuine, sincere prayer, and He cannot be fooled. May He teach us how to pray.