Matt. 6:5-8 (Part 1)

6:5ff CLEMENT OF ROME: Let us then also pray for those who have fallen into any sin, that meekness and humility may be given to them, so that they may submit, not to us, but to the will of God. For in this way they will secure a fruitful and perfect remembrance from us, with sympathy for them, both in our prayers to God, and our mention of them to the saints. Epistle to the Corinthians, 1.20.

ANONYMOUS: So when he heard that his pursuers had come, he went down and spoke with them. And as those that were present marveled at his age and constancy, some of them said. “Was so much effort made to capture such a venerable man?” Immediately then, in that very hour, he ordered that something to eat and drink should be set before them, as much indeed as they cared for, while he besought them to allow him an hour to pray without disturbance. And on their giving him leave, he stood and prayed, being full of the grace of God, so that he could not cease for two full hours, to the astonishment of them that heard him, insomuch that many began to repent that they had come forth against so godly and venerable an old man. The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 1.40.

THE DIDACHE: Neither pray as the hypocrites; but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel. 7.379.

THE DIDACHE: But your prayers and alms and all your deeds so do, as you have it in the Gospel of our Lord. 7.381.

BARNABAS: You should not go to prayer with an evil conscience. Epistle of Barnabas, 1.149.

ARISTIDES: And to me there is no doubt but that the earth abides through the prayers of the Christians. The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher, 9.278.

THE MARTYRDOM OF POLYCARP: He [Polycarp] departed, therefore, to a country house not far distant from the city. There he stayed with a few [friends], engaged in nothing else night and day than praying for all men, and for the Churches throughout the world, according to his usual custom. 1.40.

THE MARTYRDOM OF POLYCARP: Polycarp besought them to allow him an hour to pray without disturbance. And on their giving him leave, he stood and prayed, being full of the grace of God, so that he could not cease for two full hours, to the astonishment of them that heard him, insomuch that many began to repent that they had come forth against so godly and venerable an old man. 1.40.

JUSTIN MARTYR: For who of you does not know that the prayer of one who accompanies it with lamentation and tears, with the body prostrate, or with bended knees, propitiates God most of all? Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, 1.244.

TATIAN: And whenever you pray, do not be as the hypocrites, who love to stand in the synagogues and in the corners of the marketplaces for prayers, that men may behold them. And verily I say to you, they have received their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and fasten your door, and pray to your Father in secret, and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly. And whenever you pray, do not be babblers, as the heathen; for they think that by the abundance of their words they shall be heard. Then be not now like them: for your Father knows your request before you ask him. The Diatessaron, 9.58.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: As it is befitting, before partaking of food, that we should bless the Creator of all; so also in drinking it is suitable to praise Him on partaking of His creatures. . . . Finally, before partaking of sleep, it is a sacred duty to give thanks to God, having enjoyed His grace and love, and so go straight to sleep. The Instructor, 2.249.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: The Christian prays in thought during every hour, being by love allied to God. And first he will ask forgiveness of sins; and after, that he may sin no more; and further, the power of well-doing and of comprehending the whole creation and administration by the Lord, that, becoming pure in heart through the knowledge, which is by the Son of God, he may be initiated into the blessed vision face to face, having heard the Scripture which says, “Fasting with prayer is a good thing.”  The Stromata, 2.503.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: And giving thanks always for all things to God, by righteous hearing and divine reading, by true investigation, by holy offering, by blessed prayer; lauding, hymning, blessing, praising, such a soul is never at any time separated from God. The Stromata, 2.506.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Now we are commanded to reverence and to honor the same one, being persuaded that He is Word, Savior, and Leader, and by Him, the Father, not on special days, as some others, but doing this continually in our whole life, and in every way. Certainly the elect race justified by the precept says, “Seven times a day have I praised You.”  It is not in a specified place, or selected temple, or at certain festivals and on appointed days, but during his whole life, the Christian in every place, even if he be alone by himself, and wherever he has any of those who have exercised the like faith, honors God, that is, acknowledges his gratitude for the knowledge of the way to live.
The Stromata, 2.532-533.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Prayer is, then, to speak more boldly, converse with God. Though whispering, consequently, and not opening the lips, we speak in silence, yet we cry inwardly. For God hears continually all the inward converse. So also we raise the head and lift the hands to heaven, and set the feet in motion at the closing utterance of the prayer, following the eagerness of the spirit directed towards the intellectual essence; and endeavoring to abstract the body from the earth, along with the discourse, raising the soul aloft, winged with longing for better things, we compel it to advance to the region of holiness, magnanimously despising the chain of the flesh. . . .

Now, if some assign definite hours for prayer—as, for example, the third, and sixth, and ninth—yet the Christian prays throughout his whole life, endeavoring by prayer to have fellowship with God. And, briefly, having reached to this, he leaves behind him all that is of no service, as having now received the perfection of the man that acts by love. But the distribution of the hours into a threefold division, honored with as many prayers, those are acquainted with, who know the blessed triad of the holy abodes. The Stromata, 2.534.

HIPPOLYTUS: Let all the faithful, whether men or women, when early in the morning they rise from their sleep and before they undertake any tasks, wash their hands and pray to God; and so they may go to their duties. The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus.

TERTULLIAN: Not merely from anger, but altogether from all mental disturbances, ought the exercise of prayer to be free, uttered from a spirit such as the Spirit to whom it is sent. For a defiled spirit cannot be acknowledged by a holy Spirit, nor a sad by a joyful, nor a fettered by a free. No one grants reception to his adversary: no one grants admittance except to his peer. But what reason is there in going to prayer with hands indeed washed, but the spirit foul? On Prayer, 3.685.

TERTULLIAN: But we more commend our prayers to God when we pray with modesty and humility, with not even our hands too loftily elevated, but elevated temperately and becomingly; and not even our countenance over-boldly uplifted. For that publican who prayed with humility and dejection not merely in his supplication, but in his countenance too, went his way “more justified” than the shameless Pharisee. The sounds of our voice, likewise, should be subdued; else, if we are to be heard for our noise, how large windpipes should we need! But God is the hearer not of the voice, but of the heart. . . .

Do the ears of God wait for sound? How, then, could Jonah’s prayer find way out to heaven from the depth of the whale’s belly, through the entrails of so huge a beast; from the very abysses, through so huge a mass of sea? What superior advantage will they who pray too loudly gain, except that they annoy their neighbors? Nay, by making their petitions audible, what less error do they commit than if they were to pray in public? On Prayer, 3.686.

© OTR 2023