Origen on Prayer 11



Everyone who asks for the earthly and little things from God disregards Him who has enjoined the asking of heavenly and great things. God is incapable of bestowing anything either earthly or little. Should anyone suggest instances to the contrary in which the material things bestowed upon the saints in the past as a result of prayer, and indeed the express language of the Gospel when it teaches that the earthly and the little are to be added unto us, we may reply to him as follows.

When someone bestows upon us a particular material object, we should not say that the person has bestowed upon us the shadow of the object, for it is unintentional to present two things, object and shadow. The giver's intention is to give a material object; our receipt of its shadow is a consequence of the gift. In like manner if, with mind grown nobler, we have discerned the gifts that are principally given to us by God, we shall most properly describe as consequences of the great and heavenly spiritual gifts of grace the material things which are given to each of the saints for his good or in proportion to his faith or according as the Giver wills, and wisely does He will, even though we are unable to describe a cause and reason worthy of the Giver for each of His gifts.

Greater fruit had been borne by Hannah's soul in being turned from sterility than was her body in conceiving Samuel. Diviner had been the offspring begotten by Hezekiah's mind than that which was begotten of the material seed of his body. Higher had been the deliverances of Esther and Morecai and the people from spiritual plots than was that from Haman and his conspirators. Mightier was the prince that sought to ruin her soul, whose power Judith had cut through than he whom she met in Holophermes.

Who would not acknowledge that in the spiritual blessing which comes home to all the saints and which Isaac spoke of to Jacob, "God give you of the rain of heaven," a higher rain had fallen to Ananiah and those with him than the material rain that overcame Nebuchadnezzar's flame? Greater had been the muzzling of the unseen lions by the prophet Daniel so that they were unable to work anything against his soul, than that of the visible lions to which all of us who read the passage have understood it to refer.

And who as a saint, becoming a fit recipient of the holy spirit, had ever, like Jonah, escaped the belly of a monster that swallowed every fugitive from God and which has been defeated by Jesus our Savior? It need not cause surprise if, to keep the metaphor, the corresponding shadow is not given to all who receive objects capable of making shadows, while to some a shadow is what is given. Students of questions relating to sundials and of the relation of shadows to the illuminating body clearly observe what is the case with bodies generally, that at a particular time some projectors are shadowless, others are short shadowed, others are more or less long-shadowed.

It is therefore not astonishing that, as the Giver's plan is to bestow the principal things in accordance with certain unutterable and mystic guiding principles and suitable to the recipients and occasions, when the principal objects are being given there should sometimes go with them no shadows at all for the recipients. At other times shadows are but few; at other times shadows which are smaller in comparison accompany different objects.

As the presence or absence of the shadow of bodies neither pleases nor pains the man whose object of search is solar beams, he possesses his chief necessity in being illumined or freed from shadow or in having more or less of shadow as the case may be. If the spiritual things are ours, and we are being illumined by God for complete possession of true blessings, we shall not quibble over a matter so paltry as concerns the shadow.

For material and physical things count as fleeting feeble shadow, in no way comparable to the saving holy gifts of the God of All. What comparison is there between material riches and the riches that are in every word and all wisdom? Who in his senses would compare health of flesh and bone with health of mind, strength of soul, and consistency of thought-things which, if kept in measure by God's word, make bodily sufferings a paltry scratch, and even slighter if we can grasp it.

He that has discerned the meaning of the beauty of the bride whom the bridegroom Word of God loves, a soul blooming with more than heavenly and more than mundane beauty, will be ashamed to dignify with the same name of beauty the physical beauty of woman or child or man. For of beauty in the strict sense flesh is not capable, being deformity throughout. For all flesh is as grass, and the glory thereof, which is manifest in the so called beauty of women and children, is according to the prophet's language compared to a flower, "All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever."

Again, who that has perceived the nobility of the sons of God shall any longer give the name of nobility to what passes as such among men? After contemplating Christ's kingship over kings, how shall the mind not dispel all kingship upon earth? When the human mind, so far as capable while still bound to a body, has once beheld as clearly as may be an army of angels, and among them chief-commanders of the Lord's hosts, and archangels and thrones and lordships and principalities and more than heavenly authorities, and has come to understand that it can obtain from the Father their equivalent, how shall it not despise those things which though frailer than shadow are the admiration of the foolish, even if they should all be given to it, as most shadowy and in comparison insignificant, and look beyond in order not to fall short of obtaining the true principalities and diviner authorities?

We should therefore pray for the principal and truly great and heavenly things, and as for those concerned with the shadows accompanying the principal, commit them to the God who knows before we ask Him what things, by reason if our perishable body, we have need.




What I have said, according to my capacity to receive the grace which has been given by God through His Christ, and as I trust in the Holy Spirit also-whether it be so you will judge when you read it-may suffice by way of examination of the general subject of prayer. I shall now proceed to the next task, to consider how full of meaning is the prayer outlined by the Lord. It is first of all to be observed that to most people Matthew and Luke might seem to have recorded the same prayer sketched as a pattern for right prayer. Matthew's words run thus:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

But Luke's run as follows:

Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.

To those who suppose it to be the same prayer we may reply that the utterances, though they certainly resemble one another, also appear to differ, as I shall set forth in investigating them. In the second place it is not possible that the same prayer should be said on the mountain where "When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying"-for it is in the course of the recital of the Beatitudes and the subsequent injunctions that it is found recorded in Matthew. It also have been said, "He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples."

It is surely impossible that the same words should be described as having been spoken in the course of continuous utterance without any question to precede them and as being announced in response to a disciple's request. One might, however, say the prayers are equivalent and were spoken as one. On the one occasion in continuous discourse, on the other in response to the request of a different disciple who in all likelihood was not present when He spoke the form in Matthew or had not mastered what had earlier been spoken. But perhaps it is better that the prayers be regarded as different, with certain portions in common.

In Mark, though I have searched there also in case the record of an equivalent should escape me, I have not found so much as a vestige of a prayer contained. I have already said that before praying one must first be composed and disposed in a particular manner. Let us therefore glance at the words preceding the prayer contained in Matthew, which were uttered by our Savior. They are as follows: And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others.

Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Pray then in this way: Our Savior often appears as inveighing against the love of glory as a deadly passion, just as He has done in this place where He dissuades us from the practice of actors at the season of prayer, for it is a practice of actors rather to plume themselves in piety before men rather than to have communion with God.

Remembering then the words, "How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God?" we ought to despise all glory with men even though it be thought honorably gained and to seek the strict and true glory which is from Him alone who glorifies the deserving in a manner becoming to Himself and exceeding the desert of the person glorified. The very act which would in itself be thought honorable and is thought praiseworthy is polluted when we do it to be glorified by men or to appear to men, and on that account it is attended by no recompense from God. Unerring as the whole of Jesus' language is, it becomes even more so when it is spoken with His accustomed oath.

Of those who for human glory seem to do good to their neighbor, or pray in synagogues and at broadway corners, he says. "Truly I tell you, they have received their reward." For as the rich man according to Luke had good things in his human life, being no longer capable of obtaining them after the present life because he had had them, so he that has his reward, as having sown not "unto the spirit" but "unto the flesh" shall "reap corruption" but shall not "reap eternal life" in his giving or in his prayers.

It is sowing unto the flesh when one does alms, with trumpeting before him, in synagogues and thoroughfares to be glorified by men, or likes to pray standing in synagogues and at broadway corners to appear to men and thought a pious and a holy person among the onlookers. Indeed every wayfarer along the broad and spacious way leading to destruction without rightness or straightness but crooked and cornered throughout, (for the straight line is broken in it to the utmost), is standing no less than he who prays at broadway corners, not in one but through his love of pleasure in a number of streets in which beings who as men are perishing because they have fallen away from their divinity, are to be found glorifying and pronouncing blessed those whom they have thought to act piously.

There are always many who are rather pleasure-loving than God-loving in their seeming prayer who debauch prayer amid banqueting and carousing, standing in truth at the broadway corners and praying. For everyone who has made pleasure his rule of life has in his passion for the spacious fallen out of the narrow straitened way of Jesus Christ that is without a single bend and has no corner at all.

There is a certain difference between Church and Synagogue. The church in the strict sense is without "a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind," is holy and blameless. Into it enters neither child of harlot, nor eunuch or emasenlate, nor yet Egyptian or Edomite unless sons born to them in the third generation enables them with difficulty to join the church, nor Moabite and Ammonite, unless the tenth generation is complete and the aeon passed.

The Synagogue on the other hand may be built by a centurion, as was the case in times preceding the sojourn of Jesus when as yet witness had not yet been borne that the man possessed faith such as the Son of God did not find even in Israel. Now he who likes to pray in synagogues is not far from broadway corners. But it is not so with the saint, for he loves, not likes to pray, in churches, not broadway corners, in the straightness of the narrow straitened way, not to appear to men, but to present himself before the Lord God, a male in the sense that he observes the acceptable year of the Lord and keeps the commandment which says, "Thrice in the year shall every male present himself before the Lord God."

We are to attend to the word "appear" carefully, since no appearance is a good inasmuch as it only seems to exist and not in truth, and misleads the senses and expresses nothing exactly and truly. As actors of plays in theatres are not what they profess nor are really what the mask they wear makes them look like, so too all who appear to assume the outward sensible form of goodness and are not righteous but actors of righteousness, acting moreover in a theatre of their own-namely synagogues and broadway corners. But he that is no actor but has cast off all that is alien to him and sets himself to please in that theatre which is inconceivably greater than any which has been mentioned, enters into his own storeroom to the riches therein treasured up, and shuts up after him his treasury of wisdom and knowledge.

Never turning his glance outwards or doting on things outside, having shut up every door of the senses that he may not be drawn away by sensations or have their sensible presentation stealing into his mind, prays to the Father who does not shun or desert a place so secret but dwells in it, the Only Begotten also being present with Him. For He says "I and the Father will come unto him and make abode with him." And plainly, if we do pray thus, we shall be interceding not only with a God but also with a Father who is righteous, who does not desert us as His children but is present in our secret place and watches it and increases the contents of the storeroom if we shut up its door.

When we pray let us not babble but use godly speech. We babble when, without scrutiny of ourselves or of the devotional words we are sending up, we speak of the corrupt in deed or word or thought, things which are mean and reprehensible and alien to the incorruptibleness of the Lord. He, then, that babbles in prayer is in a synagogic disposition worse than any yet described and in a harder way than those who are at broadway corners, preserving not as much as a vestige even of acting in goodness.

For according to the passage in the Gospel only heathen babble, being quite insensible of great or heavenly petitions and therefore sending up every prayer for the material and the external. To a babbling heathen, then, is he like who asks for things below from the Lord who dwells in heaven and above the heights of the heavens.

He who is wordy also seems to be a babbler and he who babbles to be wordy. There is no unity in matter and in bodily substances, but every such supposed unity is split up and divided and disintegrated into many units to the loss of its union. Good is one; many are the base. Truth is one; many are the false. True righteousness is one; many are the states that act it as a part. God's wisdom is one; many are the wisdoms of this age and of the rulers of this age which come to nought. The word of God is one, but many are the words alien to God.

Therefore no one shall escape Sin as the result of wordiness, and no one who thinks to be heard as the result of wordiness can be heard. For this reason we ought not to make our prayers like heathen babbling or wordiness or other practice after the likeness of the serpent, for the God of saints, being a Father, knows of what things His children have need, since such things are worthy of Fatherly knowledge.

He who knows not God knows not the things of God also-knows not the things of which he has need, for the things of which he thinks he has need are mistaken. But he who has contemplated the better and diviner things of which he is in need shall obtain the objects of his contemplation which are known by God and which have been known by the Father even before asking. After these remarks upon the preface to the prayer in the Gospel according to Matthew, let us now proceed to consider what the prayer sets forth.




Our Father in Heaven. It deserves a somewhat careful observation of the so-called Old Testament to discover whether it is possible to find anywhere in it a prayer of one who addresses God as Father. For though I have made examination to the best of my ability, I have up to the present failed to find one. I do not say that God is not spoken of as Father or that accounted believers in God are not called sons of God, but that I have not yet found in prayer that confidence in calling God Father which the Savior has proclaimed.

That God is spoken of as Father and those who have waited on God's word as sons, may be seen in many places, as in Deuteronomy, "You have forsaken God your parent and forgotten God your nourisher," and again, "Is He not your Father himself that got you and made you and created you?" and again, "Sons who have not faith in them." And in Isaiah, "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me"; and in Malachi, "A son honors his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is my honor? and if I be a master, where is my fear?" So then, even though God is termed Father and their Sons who have been begotten by reason of their faith in Him, yet sure and unchangeable sonship is not to be seen in the ancient people.

The very passages I have cited since the subjection of those so-called sons, since according to the apostle "the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father." But the fullness of time is in the sojourn of our Lord Jesus Christ, when they who desire receive adoption as sons, as Paul teaches in the words, "For you did not receive a spirit of slavery unto fear, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, wherein we cry 'Abba Father'"; and as it is in the Gospel according to John, "To as many as received Him He gave authority to become children of God if believers on His name"; and it is by reason of this Spirit of adoption as sons, we learn in the Catholic Epistle of John regarding the begotten of God, that "Everyone that is begotten of God does no sin because His seed abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is begotten of God."

And yet if we think of the meaning of the words which are written in Luke, "When you pray say: Father . . . ," we shall hesitate to address this expression to Him unless we have become genuine sons in case, in addition to our other sins, we should also become liable to a charge of impiety. My meaning is as follows. In the first Epistle to Corinthians Paul says, "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' save in a holy spirit, and no one that speaks in God's spirit says 'cursed be Jesus' calling the same thing a holy spirit and God's spirit." What is meant by speaking in a holy spirit of Jesus as Lord is not quite clear, as countless actors and numbers of heterodox people, and at times even demons conquered by the power in the name, utter the expression.

No one therefore will venture to declare that anyone of these calls Jesus 'Lord' in a holy spirit. For the same reason, indeed, they could not be shown to call Jesus Lord at all, since they alone call Jesus Lord who express it from inward disposition in service to the word of God and in proclaiming no other Lord than Him in all their conduct. And if it be such who say Jesus is Lord, it may be that everyone who sins, in that he curses the divine Word through his transgression, has through his actions called out, "Cursed be Jesus."

And accordingly, as the one type of man says "Jesus is Lord," and the man of opposite disposition "Cursed be Jesus," "so everyone that hath been begotten of God and does not sin" because he is partaker of God's seed which turns him from all sin, says through his conduct "Our Father in Heaven," the spirit himself witnessing with their spirit that they are children of God and heirs to Him and joint heirs with Christ, since as suffering with Him they reasonably hope with Him also to be glorified. But in order that theirs may be no one-sided utterance of the words "Our Father," in addition to their actions they have a heart-a fountain and source of good actions-believing unto righteousness, in harmony with which their mouth makes acknowledgment unto salvation.

So then their every act and word and thought, formed by the only begotten word in accord with Him, imitates the image of the invisible God and has come to be "in accordance with the image of the Creator" who makes "the sun to rise upon evil men and good and rains upon righteous and unrighteous," that there may be in them the image of the heavenly One who is himself also an image of God. Saints, therefore, as an image of an Image himself, a son, receive the impress of Sonship, becoming conformed not only to the glorified body of Christ but also to Him who is in that body, and they become conformed to Him who is in a glorified body through being transformed by the renewing of their mind.

And if such men through out the whole of life voice the words "Our Father in the Heavens," plainly he that does sin, as John says in the Catholic Epistle, "is of the devil because the devil sins from the beginning" and just as God's seed abiding in the begotten of God produces inability to sin in him who is formed in accordance with the only begotten Word, so the devil's seed is in everyone that does sin, to the extent in which it is present within the soul-not suffering its possessor to have power to prosper. But since "for this end was the Son of God manifested that He might undo the actions of the devil," it is possible, through the undoing of the actions of the devil by the sojourn of the Word of God within our Soul, for the evil seed implanted in us to be utterly removed and for us to become children of God.

Let us, therefore, not think that it is words we are taught to say in any appointed season of prayer. On the contrary, if we understand our former consideration of prayer without ceasing, let our whole life of prayer without ceasing speak the words "Our Father in the Heavens," having its commonwealth in no wise on earth but in every way in heaven, which is God's throne because of the foundation of the kingdom of God in all who wear the image of the Heavenly One and therefore become heavenly. When the Father of saints is said to be in the heavens, we are not to suppose that He is circumscribed by material form and dwells in heaven.

Since, in that case, as contained God will be formed to be less than the heavens because they contain Him, whereas the ineffable might of His godhead demands our belief that all things are contained and held together by Him. And, in general, passages which taken literally are thought by the simpler order of minds to assert that God is in space are to be otherwise taken in a sense more becoming to great spiritual concepts of God.

Such are those passages in the Gospel according to John: Before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that His hour had come that He should pass from this world to the Father, as He had loved His own who were in the world, loved them to the end; and shortly after: knowing that the Father had given all into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was returning to God; and later: you heard that I said to you: I return and come unto you. If you loved me you would have rejoiced that I go to the Father; and again later; Now I return to Him that sent me and none of you asks me: Where do you return?

If these things are to be taken spacially, so also plainly is: Jesus answered and said to them, "If any one love me he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we shall come unto him and make abode with him." But surely the words do not imply a spacial transition of the Father and the Son to the lover of the word of Jesus and are therefore not to be taken spacially.

On the contrary, the Word of God, in condescension for us and, in regard to His proper desert, in humiliation while among men, is said to pass from this world unto the Father so that we also may behold Him perfectly there in reversion to His proper fullness from the emptiness among us whereby He emptied himself-where we also, enjoying His guidance, shall be filled and freed from all emptiness. To such an end the Word of God well may leave the world and depart to Him that sent Him, and go to the Father! And as for that passage near the end of the Gospel according to John, "Cling not to me, for I am not yet gone up unto my Father," let us seek to conceive it in the more mystical sense:

Let ours be the more reverent conception of the ascension of the Son to the Father with sanctified insight, an ascension rather of soul than of body. I think it right to have linked these considerations to the clause Our Father in the Heavens for the sake of doing away with a low conception of God held by those who think that He is in heaven spacially, and of preventing anyone from saying God is in material space since it follows that He also is physical, which leads to opinions most impiousto belief that He is divisible and material and corruptible. For every material thing is divisible and corruptible.

Or else let them tell us, not on the strength of vague sensation but with a claim to clear understanding, how it can be of any other than a material nature. Since, then, in writings before Christ's bodily sojourn there are also many statements which seem to say that God is in physical space, it appears to me to be not out of place to cite a few of them also for the sake of doing away with any doubt in those who, because they know no better, confine God, who is over all, within small and scanty space on their own scale. First, in Genesis it says Adam and Eve heard the sound of the lord God walking at evening in the garden, and both Adam and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God amid the wood of the Garden.

I shall put the question to those who not only refuse to enter into the treasures of the passage but do not so much as knock at all at its door, whether they are able to imagine the Lord God, who fills the heaven and the earth, who as they themselves suppose in the more physical sense uses heaven as throne and the earth as a footstool for His feet, as contained by so scanty a space in comparison with the whole heaven and the earth that a garden which they suppose to be material is not filled by God but so far exceeds Him in greatness as to hold Him even when walking while a sound from the tread of His feet is heard? Absurder still on their interpretation is the hiding of Adam and Eve, in fear of God by reason of their transgression, from before God amid the wood of the Garden.

For it is not even said that they merely desired to hide but that they actually hid themselves. And how is it in their view that God inquires of Adam saying: Where are you? I have discussed these matters at greater length in my examination of the contents of Genesis, yet here, too-in order not to pass by so grave a subject in complete silence-it will suffice if I recall what is said by God in Deuteronomy: I will dwell in them and walk in them. For as is His walk in saints such is His walk in the Garden also, since everyone that sins hides from God and shuns His oversight and renounces his confidence with Him. So it was that Cain also went out from before God and dwelt in the land of Nod over against Eden. In the same way, therefore, as He dwells in saints.

So also does He dwell in heaven (that is, in every saint who wears the image of the Heavenly One, or Christ, in whom all who are being saved are luminaries and stars of heaven, or else because saints are in heaven) according to the saying: Unto you who dwells in heaven have I lifted up my eyes. And yet the passage in Ecclesiastes: Be not in haste to utter speech before God, because God is in heaven above, and you on Earth below, means to show the interval which separates those who are in the body of humiliation from Him who is with the angels and holy powers who are being exalted by the help of the Word also and with Christ himself. For it is not unreasonable that He should be strictly at the Father's throne, allegorically called heaven, while His church, termed Earth, is a footstool at His feet.

I have cited a few Old Testament utterances, thought to represent God in space, for the sake of urging the reader by every means within the power given me to accept the divine scripture in the higher and more spiritual sense whenever it seems to teach that God is in space. And it was fitting that these considerations should be linked to the clause Our Father in the Heavens inasmuch as it distinguishes the essence of God from all created beings. For it is upon such as do not share in that essence that a certain glory of God and a power from Him, an outflow of the deity, comes.




Hallowed be Thy name. Although this may represent either that the object of prayer has not yet come to pass, or after its attainment, that it is not permanent in which case the request is for its retention; the language in this instance makes it plain that it is with the implication that the name of the Father has not yet been hallowed, that we are bidden-according to Matthew and Luke, that is-to say "Hallowed be Thy Name." Then how, one might say, should a man request the hallowing of God's name as though not hallowed? Let us understand what the Father's name, and what the hallowing of it, means. A name is a summary designation descriptive of the peculiar character of the thing named.

Thus the Apostle Paul has a certain peculiar character, partly of soul which is accordingly of a certain kind, partly of intellect which is accordingly contemplative of certain things, and partly of body which is accordingly of a certain kind. It is the peculiar in these characteristics, the unique combination-for there is not another being identical with Paul-that is indicated by means of the appellation Paul. In the case of men, however, whose peculiar characteristics are changed, their names also by a sound usage are changed according to scripture.

When the character of Abram was transformed, he was called Abraham; when that of Simon he was named Peter, and when that of Saul the persecutor of Jesus, he was designated Paul. But in the case of God, inasmuch as He is himself ever unchangeable and unalterable, the proper name which even He may be said to bear is ever one, that mentioned in Exodus, "He that is," or the like. Since therefore, though we all have some notion of God, conceiving of Him in various ways, but not all of what He is, for few and, be it said, fewer than few are they who comprehend His compete holiness-we are with good reason taught to attain to a holy conception of Him in order that we may see His holiness as creator, provider, judge, elector, abandoner, acceptor, rejector, rewarder and punisher of each according to his desert.

For it is in such and similar terms that God's peculiar character may be said to be sketched which I take to be the meaning of the expression, God's name according to the scriptures in Exodus: Thou shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; in Deuteronomy: Be my utterance awaited as rain: as dew let my words descend, as showers upon herbage and as moisture upon grass: for I have called on the Lord's name; and in Psalms: They shall remember your name in every generation.

It is he who associates the thought of God with wrong things that takes the name of the Lord God in vain, and he who is able to utter rain that cooperates with his hearers in the fruit bearing of their souls, and who addresses words of exhortation that are like dew, and who in the edifying torrent of his words turns upon his listeners showers most helpful or moisture most efficacious is able to do so because he has perceived his need of God as the accomplisher and calls in the real supplier of those things; and everyone who penetrates the very things of God recalls to mind rather than learns the mysteries of piety even when he seems to be told them by another or thinks that he discovers them. And as the suppliant ought at this point to reflect that his asking is for the hallowing of God's name, so in Psalms it is said Let us Exalt His name together, the patriarch enjoining attainment to the true and exalted knowledge of God's peculiar nature with all harmony, in the same mind, and in the same will.

It is exalting the name of God together when, after one has participated in an outflow of deity in having been sustained by God and having overcome his enemies so that they are unable to rejoice over his fall, he exalts the power of God in which he has participated, as is shown in the twenty-ninth psalm by the words: I will exalt you, O Lord, for you have sustained me and not made my enemies to rejoice over me. A man exalts God when he has consecrated to Him a house within himself, since the superscription of the Psalm also runs thus: A Psalm of singing for the consecration of the House of David.

It is further to be observed regarding the clause Hallowed be your Name and its successors in imperative form, that the translators also continually made use of imperatives instead of ablatives, as in the Psalms: Speechless let the guileful lips be, that speak lawlessness against the righteous instead of 'may they be' and Let the creditor search out all his possessions: Let him possess no helper, concerning Judas in the one hundred and eighth; for the whole Psalm is a petition concerning Judas that certain things may befall him.

But Tatian, failing to perceive that let there be does not always signify the ablative but is occasionally also imperative, has most impiously supposed that God said Let there be light in prayer rather than in command that the light should be; since, as he puts it in his godless thought, God was in darkness. In reply to him it may be asked, how is he going to take the other sayings? Let the Earth grow grass, and Let the water below heaven be gathered together, and Let the waters bring forth creeping things with living souls, and Let the earth bring forth a living soul. Is it for the sake of standing upon firm ground that He prays that the water below heaven be gathered together into one meeting place, or for the sake of partaking of the things that grow from the earth that He prays Let the Earth grow . . . ?

What manner of need, to match His need of light; has He of creatures of water, air, and land that He should pray for them also? If even on Tatian's view it is absurd to think of Him as praying for these things which occur in imperative expressions, may the same not be said of Let be there light-that it is an imperative and not an ablative expression? I thought that, in view of the fact that prayer is expressed in imperative forms, some reference was necessary to his perversion for the sake of those-I myself have met with cases who have been misled into accepting his impious teaching.


Origen on Prayer 11