Saturday, July 20, 2019

Early Christian Quotes on Prayer

Early Christian Quotes on Prayer



(1st Century)



[After quoting the Lord’s prayer] “You should pray this way three times a day.”




(1st Century)



After you have finished your meal, say grace this way:


"We thank you, holy Father, for Your sacred name, which You have lodged in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality You have revealed through Jesus, Your Child. To You be glory forever.


"Almighty Master, You have created everything for the sake of Your name and have given men food and drink to enjoy so they may thank you. But to us, You have given spiritual food and drink and eternal life through Jesus, Your Child.


"Above all, we thank You that you are mighty. To You be glory forever.


“Remember, Lord, Your Church, to save it from all evil and to make it perfect by Your love. Make it holy, and gather it together from the four winds into Your Kingdom, which You have made ready for it. For Yours is the power and the glory forever.


"Let grace come and let this world pass away.


"Hosanna to the God of David!


"If anyone is holy, let him come. If not, let him repent.


"Our Lord, come!




In the case of prophets, however, you should let them give thanks in their own way.



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Vision 3, Chapter 1:


The angel said, “Hermas, stop praying continually for your sins; pray for righteousness, that you may have a portion of it immediately in your house.”



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Commandment 9:


The angel said, “Stop allowing doubtful thoughts to enter your mind, and do not hesitate to ask of the Lord. You say to yourself, ‘How can I ask of the Lord and receive from Him, since I have sinned against Him so much?’ Do not reason with yourself, but with all your heart, turn to the Lord and ask Him without doubting. If you do this, you will know the multitude of His tender mercies; that He will never leave you but will fulfill the request of your soul. He is not like men, who remember evils done against them, but He Himself does not remember evils, and He has compassion on His own creature. So, cleanse your heart from all the vanities of this world and the words already mentioned. Ask of the Lord, and you will receive all, and none of your requests to the Lord, made without doubting, will be denied.


“But if you doubt in your heart, you will receive none of your requests. Those who doubt regarding God are double-minded and receive none of their requests. But those who are perfect in faith ask everything, trusting in the Lord, and they receive because they did not doubt when they asked. They were not being double-minded. For every double-minded man, even if he repents, will be saved with difficulty.


“Therefore, cleanse your heart from all doubt, put on faith because it is strong, and trust God that you will obtain from Him all that you ask. And if at any time, after you have asked of the Lord, you are slower in getting your request than you expected, do not doubt because you have not received your request quickly. For invariably, it is on account of some temptation or some sin you are ignorant of that you are slower in obtaining your request.


“So then, do not stop making the request of your soul, and you will receive it. But if you grow weary and waver in your request, blame yourself, and not Him who does not give to you.”



2 Clement

(Early to Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 15:


Let us continue on the righteous and holy path in which we first believed so that we may, with confidence, ask God who said, "While you are still speaking, I will say, ‘Here I am.’" For these words are a token of a great promise, for the Lord said that He is more ready to give than he who asks is to receive.



Tertullian’s On Prayer

(Early 3rd Century)

Chapter 29:


What has God, who oversees all, ever denied to the person whose prayer is in "spirit and truth?" How many mighty examples of its power do we read and hear and believe! Indeed, old-world prayer used to free from fires and from beasts and from famine, yet it had not then received its form from Christ.


But how much more effective is Christian prayer! And rightly so! It does not station the angel of dew in the middle of fires, nor muzzle lions, nor transfer the bakers' bread to the hungry. It has no delegated grace to ward off any sense of suffering, but rather it supplies the suffering and the grieving person with endurance. It amplifies grace by virtue, that faith may know what she obtains from the Lord, understanding that she suffers in the holy name of God.


But in days gone by, with prayer, faith used to call down plagues, scatter the armies of enemies, and withhold the wholesome influences of the rainshowers. But now, the prayer of righteousness turns aside all God's anger, holds steady on behalf of personal enemies, makes requests on behalf of persecutors. Is it any wonder if it knows how to call down the rains of heaven-- prayer that before could call down heaven’s fires?


Prayer alone is what conquers God. But Christ has willed that it be used for no evil: He has given it all its virtues in the cause of good. And so it knows nothing but how to recall the souls of the departed from the very path of death, to transform the weak, to restore the sick, to purge the possessed, to open prison-bars, to loose the bonds of the innocent. Likewise, it washes away faults, repels temptations, extinguishes persecutions, consoles the faint-spirited, cheers the high-spirited, escorts travelers, settles waves, makes robbers stand in submission, nourishes the poor, governs the rich, raises the fallen, catches the falling, confirms the standing.


Prayer is the wall of faith: her arms and missiles are against the foe who keeps watch over us on all sides. And so, we never walk unarmed. By day, be mindful of your position; by night, keep watch. Under the arms of the guard of prayer, we, the General's example, wait in prayer for the angel's trumpet blast.


The angels also all pray; every creature prays—cattle and wild beasts pray and bend their knees. When they emerge from their lairs, they look up to heaven with no idle mouth, making their breath vibrate in their own way. The birds, too, rising out of the nest, raise themselves toward heaven and expand the cross of their wings, and say something that seems like prayer.


What else can we say about prayer? Even the Lord Himself prayed, to Whom be honor and virtue to the ages of the ages!



Origen’s On Prayer

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 5, Paragraphs 1-2:


One may not obtain certain things without prayer in a certain manner, with a certain frame of mind, with a certain faith, after a previous way of life. So, we are not to babble or ask for little things or pray for earthly things or enter into prayer with anger and disturbed thoughts.


Also, it is not possible to think of giving oneself to prayer apart from purification. Nor is forgiveness of sins possible to the person seeking forgiveness from God unless he forgives from his heart his brother who has done wrong and begs for his pardon.


The person who prays rightly or tries to do so as best he can gets more from prayer than one who doesn’t. First of all, it is surely to our spiritual advantage to be determined and focused in prayer. And when we pray, we should present ourselves to God, and in His presence, speak to Him with a vivid sense that He sees us and is present.



Origen’s On Prayer

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 6, Paragraphs 1-2:


So far, I have said that, even on the assumption that nothing else is going to follow our prayer, we receive the best benefit when we have come to understand and follow the right way to pray. But it is inevitable that he who prays in this way, having set aside all discontent with Providence, will hear the response, “Here am I” if he is intent on paying attention to the inworking of the Lord.


The above condition is expressed in the words, “If you withdraw your bonds and protests and murmuring remarks,” because he who is content with what comes to pass also becomes free from every bond and does not protest against God for ordaining what He wills for our discipline.



Origen’s On Prayer

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 6, Paragraph 6:


The Son of God is the high priest of our offerings and our pleader with the Father. He prays for those who pray and pleads along with those who plead. However, He will not agree to pray for those who do not pray through Him with some constancy. He will not be Pleader with the Father in the same way He pleads for people who are already His own, for those who do not obey His teaching to the level that they pray at all times and do not lose heart.



Origen’s On Prayer

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 11, Paragraph 11:


We should pray for the important and truly great and heavenly things. For less important matters concerning the needs of our perishable body, we commit them to the God who knows what we need before we ask Him.



Origen’s On Prayer

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 20, Paragraphs 3-6, 9, 11:


One who is about to enter into prayer should have paused awhile first and prepared himself to engage in prayer earnestly and intently. Cast aside every distraction and confusing thought. To the best of his ability, he should consider the greatness of the Lord and the ungodliness of approaching Him casually and carelessly and with disrespect. Put away everything that doesn’t have to do with prayer.


So, he should enter into prayer as if he held his soul out in front of him in his hands . His mind should be intent on God in front of him, and his intellect raised from earth and set toward the Lord of All. Let him put away all resentment against any real or imagined injurer in in the same way he wants God not to resent him for the injuries and sins he committed against many of his neighbors.


As you stretch out your hands raise your eyes, it’s best to stand—since that position mirrors your soul’s devotional attitude before God…


Moreover, one must know that kneeling is necessary when he is about to bring his personal sins against God with a request for to be healed from and forgiven of that sin because kneeling is a symbol of submission and subjection…


To make sure you can pray in peace and without distraction, the rule is for every man to find the most solemn spot in his house before he prays. And he should consider whether any violation of law or right has been done in that place that would make not only himself but also the place somewhere that God doesn’t want to be.


There is a certain helpful charm in a place of prayer being the spot where believers meet together. Also, it may be that in that place, the group of believers are visited by angelic powers, the powers of our Lord and Savior Himself, and the spirits of saints, including those already dead, and certainly of those still in life, though just how this happens is not easy to say.



Origen’s On Prayer

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 20, Paragraphs 20-21:


In the opening of your prayer, give glory to God according to your ability, through Christ who is to be glorified with Him, and in the Holy Spirit, who is to be proclaimed with Him.


After that, one’s prayers should include thanksgivings: common thanksgivings—those things given to men in general—and thanksgivings for things he has personally received from God. After thanksgiving, it appears to me that one ought to become a powerful accuser of his own sins before God and ask first for healing with a view to being released from the habit that brings on sin, and secondly for forgiveness for past actions. After confession, it appears to me that one should tag on as a fourth element the asking for the great and heavenly things, both personal and general, on behalf of one’s family and friends. And last of all, one should bring prayer to an end giving glory to God through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit.



Cyprian’s On the Lord’s Prayer

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraphs 32, 35:


Those who pray should not come to God with fruitless or naked prayers. Asking for things in prayer is ineffective when it is an empty prayer that begs God. Just like a tree that does not yield fruit is cut down and cast into the fire, words that do not bear fruit cannot deserve anything from God because they do not turn out a result. And so, Holy Scripture instructs us, saying, “Prayer is good with fasting and serving others.” For He who will give us a reward for our work and charity on the day of judgment, mercifully hears the one who comes to Him in prayer associated with good works…


Besides the hours of prayer observed of old, both the times and the sacraments have now increased for us. For we must also pray in the morning, so that the Lord’s resurrection may be celebrated by morning prayer…In the afternoon and at the end of the day, we must pray again. Christ is the true sun and the true day. So, as the worldly sun and worldly day depart, when we pray and ask that light may return to us again, we are actually praying for the coming of Christ, which will give us the grace of everlasting light.



Arnobius’ Against the Heathen

(Late 3rd Century)

Book 1, Chapter 27:


According to our custom, we all bow down before Christ; we adore Him in joint prayers. From Him, we beg for things that are just and honorable and worthy of His ear. Not that He needs our appeals or loves to see the devotion of so many thousands laid at His feet. This is for our benefit and gives us an advantage. Since we are prone to err and to give in to various lusts and desires through the fault of our innate weakness, He allows Himself, at all times, to be felt and understood in our thoughts. While we pray to Him and strive to deserve or earn His blessings, we may receive a desire for purity and free ourselves from every stain by removing all our shortcomings.


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