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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part III: Of Elevated Hands.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XVII.—Of Elevated Hands.

But we more commend our prayers to God when we pray with modesty and humility, with not even our hands too loftily elevated, but elevated temperately and becomingly; and not even our countenance over-boldly uplifted. For that publican who prayed with humility and dejection not merely in his supplication, but in his countenance too, went his way “more justified” than the shameless Pharisee. 8860 The sounds of our voice, likewise, should be subdued; else, if we are to be heard for our noise, how large windpipes should we need! But God is the hearer not of the voice, but of the heart, just as He is its inspector. The demon of the Pythian oracle says:

“And I do understand the mute, and plainly hear the speechless one.” 8861

Do the ears of God wait for sound? How, then, could Jonah’s prayer find way out unto heaven from the depth of the whale’s belly, through the entrails of so huge a beast; from the very abysses, through so huge a mass of sea? What superior advantage will they who pray too loudly gain, except that they annoy their neighbours? Nay, by making their petitions audible, what less error do they commit than if they were to pray in public? 8862



Luke xviii. 9-14.


Herod. i. 47.


Which is forbidden, Matt. 6:5, 6.

Next: Of the Kiss of Peace.

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