while Jeff is away at a Pastor’s conference, I am going to be doing the teaching at the Table this Wednesday.  This mid week series has been on Historical Praying.  Jeff has going further and further back in time, starting with a prayer attributed to George Washington, to a 17th century Nun’s prayer, then jumping way back to prayers of the some of the Celtic Saints (5th to about the 9th century I’m guessing). 

My teaching is prayers from the early church (prior to the 5th century or so).  I thought, piece of cake…no problem.  You got all the early church fathers to draw from and the desert fathers as well.  Right?  Wrong!  I discovered that it is remarkably hard to find prayers FROM guys like Tertullian, Athenasius, Justin the Martyr,  Anthony the great etc.  You kind many prayer TO these saints but not many from them.  There are also an abundance of stories and teachings from some of them…but very few actual prayers that came from their mouths.

I did manage to find some after diligent searching.  Here a couple of real gems that I’ll probably use from Ambrose of Milan and Clement of Rome:

 We beseech thee, Master, to be our helper and protector.
Save the afflicted among us; have mercy on the lowly;
raise up the fallen; appear to the needy; heal the ungodly;
restore the wanderers of thy people;
feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners;
raise up the sick; comfort the faint-hearted.
(Clement of Rome, 1st Century)

O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone,
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore thee,
a heart to delight in thee,
to follow and to enjoy thee,
for Christ’s sake.

(Ambrose of Milan, c 339-97) 


I also like the prayer of the early church from Acts 4:24-30.  Great commentary on boldness and social justice (as well as trusting in God to act with signs and wonders).  And ofcourse there are the great prayers of Paul in some of his letters.  And there is even the magnificat of Mary in the gospel of Luke which though is not technically part of the early church…it rocks!

By chance, do you have any other prayers that you particularly like from any of the early church fathers, desert fathers, or any other part of the early church from say 33 AD to 500 AD?

Thanks and God bless!