The CCEL Times 3.9 (September 2, 2008)
In This Issue:
From the Director
The word 'prayer' has many meanings. Three of the primary meanings are fervent request, liturgy, and acts of communion with God. Tertullian concentrated on #2, with mention of #1. Origen moved toward #3. Most mention of prayer in the Bible is refers to definition #1. However, when Paul exhorts us to pray continuously, he is presumably firmly in the #3 camp.
The difficulty with 'praying continuously' is that it is, well, difficult. Most of us have difficulty maintaining focus in verbal prayers, let alone maintaining continuous fellowship with God. Nevertheless, controlling the thoughts and the will seems to be a fundamental element in Jesus' teaching, and "recollecting" yourself into God's presences is a key element of teaching on prayer.
This month's classic on prayer is the Conferences of John Cassian. Cassian (360-435) visited the "desert fathers" in monasteries and hermitages in the desert in Egypt, where Christians had fled from Roman persecution in the third century. The Conferences consists of teachings he heard there and brought back to the Western church.
George Fox: An Autobiography
This is a fascinating journal of the exploits of the founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers). It is also very illuminating about the political and religious state of seventeenth century England—for example, Fox lives through the commonwealth period, meets Cromwell, and prophesies his downfall after he treats Quakers badly.
"Of The Father's Love Begotten" by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius
This hymn, with very ancient roots, is a confession of faith about the Christ, the eternal Son of God, whose birth and saving ministry were the fulfillment of ancient prophecies (st. 1-3). The final stanzas are a doxology inspired by John's visions recorded in Revelation 4-7 (st. 4-5). The text is based on "Corde natus ex parentis," a Latin poem by Marcus Aurelius C. Prudentius (c.348-413).
Prudentius was the greatest Christian poet of his time. ... [A]t the age of fifty-seven Prudentius bade farewell to [h]is successful, prosperous life and vowed to spend the rest of his days in poverty. He served the church by meditating and writing, presumably at an unnamed monastery. All of his writings are in poetic form, including learned discussions in theology and apologetics. Most of the English hymns derived from his works, including "Of the Father's Love Begotten," were taken from his Liber Cathemerinon (c. 405), which consists of twelve extended poems meant for personal devotions, six for use throughout the hours of the day and six for special feasts.
Prayers Warriors and the Prayers of the Faithful
This is a group that is vital to the Christian life. This is a group of God's saints that pray for the good and necessities of all. This is a non-denominational prayer group. It is not only that but it is a group where one can come to and give God praise and thanks. Many are moved to praise and glorify, to acknowledge dependence, to worship and adore. In them, we might find words that will inspire us and fill us with love for Our Creator and Lord.
Let us not then be disturbed, neither dismayed, when trials befall us. For if the gold refiner sees how long he ought to leave the piece of gold in the furnace, and when he ought to draw it out, and does not allow it to remain in the fire until it is destroyed and burnt up: much more does God understand this, and when He sees that we have become more pure, He releases us from our trials so that we may not be overthrown and cast down by the multiplication of our evils. Let us then not be repining, or faint-hearted, when some unexpected thing befalls us; but let us suffer Him who knows these things accurately, to prove our hearts by fire as long as He pleases: for He does this for a useful purpose and with a view to the profit of those who are tried.
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