Sometimes repetition is numbing. Repeated things can become mundane and routine, they can lose their impact. Do you remember how you felt the first time you flew on an airplane? If you’ve flown often enough since then (and suffered through enough TSA security screenings), the wonder of air travel has likely diminished. The intrigue is gone, and a monotonous familiarity has settled in its place.
However repetition can be a good thing. The right things, repeated in the right way and for the right reasons, can shape us in a way that sponatneous things cannot. This is one reason why Christians should celebrate the Lord’s Supper regularly.
In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:25.)
The Lord’s Supper is a regular reminder that Jesus is the “meal” we truly need. We repetitively take the bread and take the cup, because over time those elements – celebrated consistently – condition our hearts to rest in the sufficiency of Christ’s work for us. If we celebrated the Lord’s Supper only once, the power of the meal would be diminshed. It is through repetition that the meal does its work.
The same is true for other habits and “rituals.” Certain things, when practiced intentionally and consistently, shape us and form us. Steph Curry shoots free throws in practice, and he is intentional about repeating his form perfectly each time. He knows that consistent form and repetition in practice will shape his shooting form in games. Yo Yo Ma practices the same major and minor scales every day. He knows that if those scales are ingrained in the muscle memory in his fingers, scale patterns will flow more freely and accurately from his cello when he performs. Repetition shapes us.
I’ve found that the habit of repetitive daily confession in prayer works the same way. On Sunday, I quoted to this end from The Book of Common Prayer. Through repetition, this prayer has shaped in me a growing conviciton of my sins and my sinfulness, as well as a deeper sense of joy in the mercy I’ve received through Christ.
Imagine with me:
How would your heart’s shape be different if you gave yourself to praying this prayer (or a prayer like this) intentionally and consistently, not as a rote exercise but with your whole mind and heart applied to its statements?
Over time, how would your prayer life take on a different shape if you devoted yourself to consistent, prayerful confession?
Over time, how would repetition in confession change your awareness of and your attitude toward your sins and sinfulness?
I pray that the Lord would use these words – and repetition – to work in you a deeper awareness of your need for him, and deeper assurance of his love for you.
Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, we have offended against thy holy laws, we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, spare thou those who confess their faults, restore thou those who are penitent, according to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord; and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.
 from “Daily Evening Prayer: Rite One”, The Book of Common Prayer.