On Prayer

In the past
prayer was able
to bring down punishment,
rout armies,
withhold the blessing of rain.
Now, however,
the prayer of the just
turns aside the whole anger of God,
keeps vigil for its enemies,
pleads for persecutors.
Is it any wonder
that it can call down water from heaven
when it could obtain fire from heaven as well?

Prayer is the one thing that can conquer God.

But Christ has willed
that it should work no evil,
and has given it all power over good.
Its only art
is to call back the souls of the dead
from the very journey into death,
to give strength to the weak,
to heal the sick,
to exorcise the possessed,
to open prison cells,
to free the innocent from their chains.
Prayer cleanses from sin,
drives away temptations,
stamps out persecutions,
comforts the fainthearted,
gives new strength to the courageous,
brings travelers safely home,
calms the waves,
confounds robbers,
feeds the poor,
overrules the rich,
lifts up the fallen,
supports those who are falling,
sustains those who stand firm.

All the angels pray.
Every creature prays.
Cattle and wild beasts pray
and bend the knee.
As they come from their barns and caves
they look out to heaven and call out,
lifting up their spirit in their own fashion.
The birds too rise
and lift themselves up to heaven:
they open out their wings,
instead of hands,
in the form of a cross,
and give voice to what seems to be a prayer.

What more need be said on the duty of prayer?

Even the Lord himself prayed.

--from the treatise On Prayer by Tertullian

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