A Discipline of Prayer and Psalm Reading

There is a lot of talk among modern Orthodox, especially among converts, about the need for and importance of a discipline of prayer.  No doubt in a culture which promotes unique individualism, a discipline of prayer is needed to counter this emphases on extreme individualism.   If Christ is both Lord and Master, then we are to His servants and obey Him.  We learn obedience through discipline.  In the Fathers of the Church we also find encouragement for having a discipline of prayer.  However, we also find among the Fathers warnings that a discipline is not the goal but a tool to help us reach our goal – purity of heart, the Kingdom of Heaven, etc.  A discipline of prayer is not the master of our lives, but rather is to be of service to us to help us attain our spiritual goal.   The Fathers do at times warn against becoming a slave to a discipline.   St. Isaac the Syrian (7th Century) writes:

“There is a rule involving liberty and there is a rule for slaves: a rule that enslaves says ‘I will recite such and such psalms during each Office, and every time I will pray I will say the same fixed number’. Such a person is inalterably bound by obligation, without the possibility of change, to these same psalms all his days – all because he is tied to the obligation, in prayer and in the Office, to follow the details of the number, length, and fixed character of their quantity which he has decreed and fixed for himself. All this is utterly alien to the path of true knowledge, for such a person does not bear in mind either (divine) activity or the feebleness of nature, or the hazard of frequent battles: in the first case grace may be given so that he tarries beyond what his will has decreed; in the second case (human) nature may prove too weak to fulfill the rule, under the constraint of (the demons) by whom it is attacked – (demons) who are specifically provided for the subduing of pride. The rule of liberty consists in one’s unfailing observance of the seven Offices, ordained for our chaste mode of life by the holy Church at the hands of the Fathers who were assembled by the Holy Spirit for the ecumenical synod (of Nicaea). Far be it from us solitaries that we should not be subject to the Church or her leaders or laws. This is precisely the reason why we observe the ordinance of the seven Hours of the Office, in conformity with what the Church has laid down for us, as her children.

This does not mean, however, that for each Office I should perform the same particular fixed number of psalms; nor does one fix each day a particular number of prayers to be said between these Offices, during both night and day. And one does not set a time limit for each of these prayers, nor does one decide upon specific words to use. Rather, one spends as long on each prayer as grace provides the strength, asking whatever the pressing need of the moment may require, using whatever prayer one is stirred to use. And while such a person prays he is all the more recollected and undistracted in view of the delight of this kind of prayer. During such prayers a person measures his request in conformity with the strength of (human) nature and the wisdom the Lord accords to him.” (The Second Part, pp 77-78)

Prayer That Never Ends (III)

This is the 44th and last blog in a series exploring various aspects of “prayer.”  The first blog is “Why Pray?” and the previous blog is Prayer That Never Ends (II).   Our blog sojourn will come to an end, but the prayer sojourn is always ongoing.

To be a disciple of Christ means to follow a discipline.  To accept the Lordship of Christ means to become a servant of His holy will.  Prayer is one way in which we can practice a discipline and faithfully serve Christ who told us to love God and neighbor.  Beyond being a discipline, prayer becomes a living relationship with the Triune God.  And while we need a discipline of prayer, ultimately we are not trying to enslave ourselves to a discipline but we are striving to enter into communion with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

“True prayer is loving and serving the God of prayer, not the prayer of God.  The call to unceasing prayer is not an invitation to divided consciousness; it does not imply that we pay any less attention to daily realities or retreat from life’s responsibilities.  Rather: It is a call to learn to live always in the presence of God in a manner appropriate to changing circumstances, through these very circumstances, none of which are an end in themselves but which lead to God.”   (Monks of New Skete, IN THE SPIRIT OF HAPPINESS, p 187)

The mystery of the incarnation of God the Word who becomes Jesus Christ in the flesh is at the heart of the Christian prayer life.  For though the goal of the Christian life and thus of prayer is union with God, it is never an abandonment of this world or of our body.  Rather it is a transfiguration of ourselves and our world.  As the ancient Christians worded it, “God became human so that we humans can become god.”  Christ came to unite divinity to humanity, not to destroy or eliminate our physical nature but to save it.  In prayer we use our bodies, we don’t escape them, to become the very thing that God created us for in the beginning, namely, spiritual beings united to God.  Spirituality and our spiritual lives are not opposed to our physical bodies.  Our bodies and our physical experiences are the very means for us to experience the divine life.

“Every devotional act of the Christian is meant to emphasize one’s personal relationship to Christ in and through his Body the Church, of which one is member.  A Christian at prayer, whether in the privacy of the ‘cell’ or in the company of the assembly, never prays as an individual but as a member of the Body of Christ, the Church.  Moreover, prayer for a devout Christian is more than an activity; it is a state of being that is defined by an abiding love for and trust in God.  St. Basil (d. 379AD) makes this point in a beautiful passage on prayer, which reads, in part, as follows:

Ought we to pray without ceasing?  …  Prayer is a request for what is good, addressed by the devout to God.  But we do not rigidly confine our petition to words.  Nor yet do we imagine that God requires to be reminded by speech.  He knows our needs even though we ask him not.  What do I say then?  I say that we must not think to make our prayer complete by syllables.  The strength of prayer lies rather in the moral attitude of our soul and in deeds of virtue reaching every part and moment of our life.  ‘Whether you eat,’ it is said, ‘or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ [1 Cor 10:31] …  Thus will you pray without ceasing; if you pray not only in words, but also by uniting yourself to God through all the course of life, so that your life becomes one continuous and uninterrupted prayer.”  (Alkiviadis Calivas, ASPECTS OF ORTODOX WORSHIP, pp 51-52)

Thus we understand how we can fulfill St. Paul’s teaching that we are to pray unceasingly:  we transform our hearts, minds and our lives into prayer.  We consciously work to make everything we do, say or think an offering to God.  Thus we direct every aspect of our lives to our Creator.  Then everything we do is prayer.

“’Pray without ceasing’, St. Paul writes to the Thessalonians (1 Thess 5:17).  And in other epistles, he commands: “Praying always with all supplication in the spirit’ (Eph 6:18), ‘continue in prayer and watch in the same’ (Col 4:2), ‘continue constant in prayer’ (Rom 12:12).  Also the Saviour Himself teaches the need for constancy and persistency in prayer, in the parable about the importunate widow, who won over the unrighteous judge by the persistency of her appeals (Luke 18:1-8).  It is clear from this that unceasing prayer is not an accidental prescription, but the essential characteristic of the Christian spirit.”    (St. Theophan the Recluse – d. 1894AD – in THE ART OF PRAYER, p 81)

If we understand our life and everything we do, think or say as our offering to God, then we understand how we can pray without ceasing.  Each and every thought, word we speak, action we take is what we have to offer and consecrate to God.  As long as we are mindful of this, we are praying constantly.  And in this we realize prayer is not a technique that we must master, rather prayer is learning to allow Christ to be Master of our entire lives.

The entire blog series on prayer is now available in PDF format at Prayer (PDF).

Prayer That Never Ends (II)

This is the 43rd  blog in a series exploring various aspects of “prayer.”  The first blog is “Why Pray?” and the previous blog is Prayer That Never Ends.

“Make it your care to pray without ceasing, for prayer is light to the soul, and it acts as a guard to the body.  Pray not just when you are standing in prayer, but also when you are moving around or doing something, and even when you are asleep, and when you are eating.  When your mouth is occupied with nourishment, let your heart be occupied with prayer.  While your right hand is looking after your body’s needs at table, let your mind be given to praise and thanksgiving to him who provides for your needs.  In this way your food will be blessed and hallowed in your body, without your being concerned about this.”  (Babai – d. 484AD? – in THE SYRIAC FATHERS ON PRAYER AND THE SPIRITUAL LIFE,  p 149)

Prayer, as can be seen in these many quotes from ancient and modern Orthodox writers, is the constant occupation of Christians.  There is no time which is not a time for prayer.

“Not to sin is truly blessed; but those who sin should not despair, but grieve over the sins they have committed, so that, through grief they may again attain blessedness. It is good, then, to pray always and not to lose heart, as the LORD says. And again the apostle says, ‘Pray without ceasing’, that is by night and by day and at every hour, and not only when coming into the church, and not bothering at other times. But whether you are working, lying down to sleep, travelling, eating, drinking, sitting at table, do not interrupt your prayer, for you do not know when he who demands your soul is coming. Don’t wait for Sunday or a feast day, or a different place, but, as the Prophet David says, ‘in every place of his dominion’.”   (St. Ephrem the Syrian,  Prayer Book – In Accordance with the Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church , kindle   Loc. 3331-37)

Prayer in this tradition might sometimes be characterized as multi-tasking – pray always in all circumstances and every place.  Whatever else you may be doing or may have to do, always also pray.    But prayer is also more than just another thing we do, for as we have seen it becomes our very life.  Our life becomes prayer when we direct our entire being towards God.  Our life is prayer when we choose to make an offering to our Lord God every thought, or word we say, or thing we do.

“There is also another sense in which the Apostle’s words must be interpreted.  ‘Pray without ceasing’ (1 Thess 5:17) must be taken in the sense of prayer performed by the mind:  whatever a man is doing, the mind can always be directed towards God, and in this way it can pray to Him unceasingly.”  (St. Dimitri of Rostov, THE ART OF PRAYER, p 50)

The benefits of this continual conversation with God are ultimately union with Creator of the Universe.  Such a union between God and humanity is the very thing that the incarnation of God in Christ achieves.  The incarnation thus makes pure prayer possible in this world in our daily lives.   In prayer we continue to live at each moment of our lives the union with Christ which we receive through the sacraments of baptism, confession, chrismation and communion.

“The intellect joined to God for long periods through prayer and love becomes wise, good, powerful, compassionate, merciful and long-suffering; in short, it includes within itself almost all the divine qualities.”  (St. Maximos the Confessor, The Philokalia, Kindle Loc. 12703-4)

Prayer is an essential element to the understanding of salvation as theosis.

This is the penultimate blog in this series.  Unlike prayer which never ends, this blog series is coming to its end.

Next:  Prayer That Never Ends (III)

Prayer That Never Ends

This is the 42nd blog in a series exploring various aspects of “prayer.”  The first blog is “Why Pray?” and the previous blog is Prayer as Prayer as Relationship with God (VI).

St. Paul famously said that we should pray without ceasing.  And while this teaching was seized upon by the spiritual champions in Orthodoxy, that phrase about prayer occurs in a sentence which commands constancy in joy and thanksgiving as well, though these other elements are not as often mentioned in the spiritual literature.  To quote St. Paul in context:

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”   (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

In their book, IN THE SPIRIT OF HAPPINESS, the Monks of New Skete commented:

“Unceasing prayer, then, is not a technique.  To isolate Saint Paul’s admonition, to take it out of its context, does violence to his intent.  Surrounding the admonition are two other exhortations that express how he conceived unceasing prayer:

Be happy always:     Greet everyone and everything openly and cheerful, even in adversity.  Sing together joyfully.

Pray without ceasing:    Don’t forget to pray; be open to God’s presence.  Don’t stop praying together just because difficulties arise, or when everything’s fine.  Pay attention and avoid distractions.

Be grateful in all circumstances:    Be generous and appreciative, find something positive, even during reversals and setbacks.  Display your unity and heal your divisions by giving thanks in prayer and eucharist.

For this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; translation New Skete) “     (p 188)

And while the exhortation to pray without ceasing became a way of life for monastics, it was not envisioned as being a way of life only for monastics.  St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359AD) says:

“Let not one think, my fellow Christian, that only priests and monks need to pray without ceasing and not laymen. No, no; every Christian without exception ought to dwell always in prayer.”     (Prayer Book – In Accordance with the Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church , kindle Loc. 3605-8)

Origen (d. ca 254AD) back in the 3rd Century said:

“He prays unceasingly who combines prayer with necessary duties and duties with prayer.  Only in this way can we find it practicable to fulfill the commandment to pray always.  It consists in regarding the whole of Christian existence as a single great prayer.  What we are accustomed to call prayer is only a part of it.”     (Olivier Clement, THE ROOTS OF CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM, p 212)

Next:  Prayer That Never Ends (II)

Praying (VII)

This is the 19th blog in a series exploring various aspects of “prayer.”  The first blog is “Why Pray?” and the previous blog is Praying (VI).

Holy Father Abraham

The Tradition governing attitudes towards prayer and guiding how to pray is quite ancient in Christian history.  Very early on Christians saw themselves as men and women of prayer.  They believed that to be human was to be a person of prayer.  They believed humans were created to be priests of God: our task was to consecrate the earth to God.  That is the role Adam and Eve lost by choosing their own sinful way rather than living in love and obedience to God.  In Christ, humanity is restored to its role as microcosm and mediator of the universe.  We are again able to offer up to God our prayers as priests on behalf of the entire creation.

Here is a quote from Origen (d. ca 254AD).  Origen died as a Christian martyr.  He was arguably the greatest Christian biblical commentator of the 3rd Century.  He was a creative writer and his speculations were in later generations condemned as heretical.  But he also left volumes of insightful Christian teachings and his writings minus his speculations were influential in later generations of Patristic writers.   Here he comments on prayer:

Saint Joseph

“’Certainly there are countless attitudes of the body, but that in which we stretch out our hands and lift our eyes to heaven is to be preferred for expressing with the body the dispositions of the soul during prayer. 

That at least is the way we should act when there are no obstacles. 

But circumstances may lead us to pray sitting down, for example when we have a pain in the legs; or even in bed because of fever. 

For the same reason, if for example we are on board ship or if our business does not allow us to withdraw to perform our duty in regard to prayer, it is possible to pray without taking up any particular outward attitude. 

St. Andrew of Crete

In regard to kneeling for prayer, this is essential when we are accusing ourselves of our sins before God and entreating him to heal and absolve us. 

It symbolizes the prostration and humility of which Paul speaks when he writes: “for this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” (Ephesians 3:14) 

That is spiritual kneeling, so called because every creature adores God in the name of Jesus and prostrates itself humbly before him. 

The Apostle seems to be alluding to this when he says: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10). 

As for the place, you should realize that every place is suitable for prayer . . .  

however, in order to pray undisturbed it is possible to choose a particular place in one’s house, if practicable, as a kind of hallowed spot, and to pray there.’  (Origen…)

(Olivier Clement, THE ROOTS OF CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM, p 196)

It is true that we are to pray without ceasing, but to achieve that we have to set aside time consciously and conscientiously to pray.

Next: Praying (VIII)

Why Pray? (III)

This is the 3rd blog in a series exploring various aspects of “prayer.”  The first blog is  “Why Pray? “ and the previous blog is Why Pray? (II).

When prayer is not merely one activity among many that we do, but becomes our way of living in which all we do is to acquire God’s love, then we can pray without ceasing.  When all we do is directed toward God, then all of life is prayer.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”   (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Notice how St. Paul does not separate out prayer as an activity unrelated to other aspects of the Christian life.  Things we are to never stop doing:

Rejoicing

Praying

Giving thanks.

Sometimes we find fellow believers quoting and focusing only on “pray without ceasing” while ignoring the context of St. Paul’s words and his complete message.  Too often there is this idea that prayer is the only activity worthy of Christians, but this is not the teaching of St. Paul.   Prayer is one continuous activity in our lives as believers, but so is rejoicing and giving thanks.  When we forgot all of these elements, we practice a reduction of the Christian faith and of St. Paul’s teaching.

“We must pray that we may be constantly and firmly assured in our hearts that everything we have – both of soul and body, in prosperity and adversity, and all our possessions as well as all the circumstances of our life – come from God, from His Power, and not from nature, or chance, or from ourselves.  If you cease praying to God, you will soon forget your Benefactor, Creator, and Lord, and in forgetting Him you will fall into every evil.  Therefore, you see that prayer always brings you real benefit.”   (St. John of Kronstadt, MY LIFE IN CHRIST, p 128)

When we remember that all things come to us from God, then we learn to give thanks and rejoice in every circumstance.   Prayer is the means by which we can acquire the love of God, but also the way we remember God’s love in and through the world He created for us.  Rejoicing and giving thanks equally with prayer gives us proper orientation toward our God, the God of love.  Prayer restores in us the memory of God and of all of his deeds.

In so doing, by establishing our relationship with God, prayer is also a way to learn, think about and remember virtue – those things which those who know the love of God do in their daily lives.

“Virtues are formed by prayer.  Prayer preserves temperance, suppresses anger, restrains pride and envy, draws down the Holy Spirit into the soul and raises man to heaven.” (St. Ephraim the Syrian in Orthodox Prayer Life, pgs. 31-32)

Notice how in St. Ephraim’s teaching: prayer helps us in knowing how to live on this earth while simultaneously lifting us to heaven.  Prayer makes God present in our lives.

“With prayer I cleanse the vision of my faith, lest it lose sight of you in the mist, O Most Radiant Star.

“What use will your prayer be to God?” asks the swarthy workers of the earth.

You speak rightly, sons of earth.  What use is the mariner’s telescope to the North Star, when it sees the mariner even without a telescope?  But do not ask me, since you already know what use a telescope is to a mariner.

Prayer is necessary for me, lest I lose sight of the salvation-bearing Star, but the Star does not need it to keep from losing me.”     (Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, Prayers by the Lake, pg 70)

Prayer keeps us oriented toward and focused on the Triune God of love.

Next:  Why Pray?  (IV)

Why Pray?

Why pray?

I admit that in general when I think about prayer, I am thinking about something extremely broad that is virtually coterminous with the Christian life itself.  Statements to the effect that we are not simply to pray but to have our lives become prayer seem closest to my sentiments.  I might even adapt a popular Christian phrase and rework it to say:

Pray constantly.  Use words when necessary.

I am not denying that there is a particular Christian activity called ‘prayer.’  Nor am I suggesting that Christians do not need to consciously pray.

However, if Christ is central to our lives, if God is the focus of our existence, and if our daily life is supposed to be transformed “on earth as it is in heaven”,  than all we do and think and say is directed in some fashion toward the Triune God and/or moving ourselves towards Him.

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

“By means of words we find access to mysteries, for prayer draws the mind near to God.”    (St. Isaac the Syrian in  Orthodox Prayer Life, pp 31-32)

All we do as Christians (which ideally is our entire life) is thus prayer, part of the great conversation we are constantly having with our Creator.  In the Triune God, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).  So when we consciously believe in Him, we enter into prayer.    So, prayer is not merely one activity among many in which Christians engage, alongside with repentance, charity, reading scripture, receiving Communion, fasting, and practicing self-denial.  Rather, prayer becomes all that we do because all we do in one form or another is develop our relationship with our Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  All of our activities in which we attempt to obey God or please Him are also inspired by Him – the Holy Spirit works in us to help us accomplish these works of  Holy Communion with God.   And all we do, we do as members of Christ’s Body, into whom we have been baptized.  So our lives become ever increasing unity with the Holy Trinity.

“To choose what is good belongs to the good volition of the man who desires it; but to realize the choice of the good volition belongs to God.  For this a man has need of God’s help.  Therefore we accompany our good desire with constant prayer, and we pray not only because we need help, but also so that we can distinguish whether it is pleasing to God’s will or not.”  (St. Isaac the Syrian, THE ASCETICAL HOMILIES, p 286)

Of course if we equate prayer with the Christian life some may feel ‘prayer’ as a very specific activity which Christ taught us to do gets lost.   Many love to read about the mechanics of prayer as they want to know if they are doing it right.  This series is not about the mechanics, as important as they can be.  We begin this blog series on prayer considering prayer to be that synergism which exists between God and those who in faith agree to serve Him.

“What we aim at is to be made able to stand before God and to concentrate on his presence, all our needs being directed Godwards, and to be given power, strength, anything we need that the will of God may be fulfilled in us.  That the will of God should be fulfilled in us is the only aim of prayer, and it is also the criterion of right prayer.  It is not the mystical feeling we may have, or our emotions that make good praying.

Theophane the Recluse says: ‘You ask yourself, “Have I prayed well today?”  Do not try to find out how deep your emotions were, or how much deeper you understand things divine; ask yourself: “Am I doing God’s will better than I did before?”  If you are, prayer has brought its fruits, if you are not, it has not, whatever amount of understanding or feeling you may have derived from the time spent in the presence of God.’”  (METROPOLITAN ANTHONY , p 54)

Our goal in life is to become one with God, to accept communion with Him that He offers to us.     Prayer has everything to do with God’s will and our ability to accomplish it.

Next:  Why Pray? (II)

My “O Lord!” Prayers (A)

In the previous blog, My “O Lord” Prayers: A Story”, I mentioned how I rediscovered some prayers I copied down 40+ years ago as a teenager in a period in which I felt very drawn to God.    Each of these prayer stands on its own – they are not one long prayer, but a collection of short prayers which I came to really love.   Some are obviously from Scripture, some are familiar to the Orthodox reader.  I do not remember where I got the prayers from, but they were at least inspired by Orthodox writings that existed in English at that time if not just copied from these works.

I did however put the prayers in the more contemporary “You” rather than keeping “Thou” and “Thy.”   In older English the use of “Ye”,“Thou” and “Thy” interpreted from the Greek the familiar form of addressing someone (the way you would speak to a friend and close acquaintance), not the formal (which is how you would address someone senior to you or who socially outranks you).  The formal in older English is “You” but the Scriptures themselves use the more familiar form when addressing God,  “Thee” and “Thou.”  In modern times the “Thee” and “Thou” have the opposite meaning of what they originally intended.  Now they are seen as the formal address, special liturgical language, a formal way of speaking to God.  But this is the opposite of their original from and intent in older English.   The use of the informal or familiar (Thee and Thy) dropped out in English over time, perhaps under the influence of America’s more egalitarian ideas about people.   We basically no longer make any distinction in address people between the familiar and the formal, while many other languages still have very clear distinctions between the two.  Now in English “you” is the way we address friends, loved ones and close acquaintances.   It is in this voice that these older Orthodox prayers and the Scriptures more usually address God.

O Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

O Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!

O Lord, humble my heart that I may be ever pleasing to You.

O Lord, we are all Your creatures, have pity on Your servants, and turn our hearts to repentance.

O Merciful Lord, You see my decline and my distress.  I humbly entreat Your mercy: pour upon my sinful self the grace of Your Holy Spirit.

O Lord, grant me Your spirit of humility that I lose not Your grace again and weep not for its loss as Adam wept for Paradise and for You.

O Lord, be merciful unto me!  Bestow on me Your spirit of humility and love.

O God of mercy, You know our infirmity.  I beseech You, grant me a humble spirit, for in Your mercy You enable the humble soul to live according to Your will.  You revealed Your mysteries to the Theotokos.  You gave to her to know You and the Infinity of Your love for us.

O Lord, be merciful unto me a sinner.

Rejoice, O Lord, every afflicted soul by the coming of Your Holy Spirit, and let all who pray to You know Your Holy Spirit.

O Lord, by the power of the grace of Your Holy Spirit grant that we may live according to Your holy will.

Next:  My “O Lord” Prayers (B)

The Appropriate Place and Prayer

“Certainly there are countless attitudes of the body, but that in which we stretch out our hands and life our eyes to heaven is to be preferred for expressing with the body the dispositions of the soul during prayer. That at least is the way we should act when there are no obstacles. But circumstance may lead us to pray sitting down, for example when we have a pain in the legs; or even in bed because of fever. For the same reason, if for example we are on board ship or if business does not allow us to withdraw to perform our duty in regard to prayer, it is possible to pray without taking up any particular outward attitude.

In regard to kneeling for prayer, this is essential when we are accusing ourselves of our sins before God and entreating him to heal and absolve us. It symbolizes the prostration and humility of which Paul speaks when he writes: ‘For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named’ (Eph. 3:14). That is spiritual kneeling, so called because every creature adores God in the name of Jesus and prostrates itself humbly before him. The Apostle seems to be alluding to this when he says: ‘At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth’ (Phil. 2:10). As for the place, you should realize that every place is suitable for prayer…However, in order to pray undisturbed it is possible to choose a particular place in one’s house, if practicable, as a kind of hallowed spot, and to pray there.”   (Origen in The Roots of Christian Mysticism by Oliver Clément, pg. 196)