…to pray as the men of the Bible and our Fathers in faith did, means not only making certain texts one’s own, but also to assimilate all of those methods, forms, gestures, and so on, in which this praying finds its most suitable expression. This was, in any case, the opinion of the Fathers themselves, for whom this was by no means a matter of historically conditioned externals. On the contrary, they gave their full attention to these things, which Origen summarizes as follows at the end of his treatise On Prayer.

It seems to me [in light of the preceding] to be not inappropriate, in order to present exhaustively the subject of prayer, by way of an introduction, to examine [also] the [interior] disposition and the [exterior] posture that the person praying must have, as well as the place where one should pray, and the direction in which one must face in all circumstances, and the favourable time that is to be reserved for prayer, and whatever other similar things there may be.

As the Fathers themselves knew better than anyone else, one must never take Scripture out of context if one wants to understand it correctly. For the Christian this context is the Church, and the apostolic and patristic tradition gives testimony to her life and her faith. As a consequence of those breaks in tradition which have accompanied the history of the Western Church in particular, this treasure has been practically inaccessible to many today. And this is so even though we have available today an unprecedented abundance of valuable editions and translations of patristic texts. The purpose of this book is, therefore, to put into the hands of the Christians of our time the key to these treasures.

Father Gabriel (Bunge), Earthen Vessels: The Practice of Personal Prayer According to the Patristic Tradition, (Ignatius Press, 1996/2002) 14-15.

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