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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part III: Of Time for Prayer.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXV.—Of Time for Prayer.

Touching the time, however, the extrinsic 8924 observance of certain hours will not be unprofitable—those common hours, I mean, which mark the intervals of the day—the third, the sixth, the ninth—which we p. 690 may find in the Scriptures to have been more solemn than the rest. The first infusion of the Holy Spirit into the congregated disciples took place at “the third hour.” 8925 Peter, on the day on which he experienced the vision of Universal Community, 8926 (exhibited) in that small vessel, 8927 had ascended into the more lofty parts of the house, for prayer’s sake “at the sixth hour.” 8928 The same (apostle) was going into the temple, with John, “at the ninth hour,” 8929 when he restored the paralytic to his health.  Albeit these practices stand simply without any precept for their observance, still it may be granted a good thing to establish some definite presumption, which may both add stringency to the admonition to pray, and may, as it were by a law, tear us out from our businesses unto such a duty; so that—what we read to have been observed by Daniel also, 8930 in accordance (of course) with Israel’s discipline—we pray at least not less than thrice in the day, debtors as we are to Three—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: of course, in addition to our regular prayers which are due, without any admonition, on the entrance of light and of night. But, withal, it becomes believers not to take food, and not to go to the bath, before interposing a prayer; for the refreshments and nourishments of the spirit are to be held prior to those of the flesh, and things heavenly prior to things earthly.



Mr. Dodgson supposes this word to mean “outward, as contrasted with the inward, ‘praying always.’” Oehler interprets, “ex vita communi.” But perhaps what Tertullian says lower down in the chapter, “albeit they stand simply without any precept enjoining their observance,” may give us the true clue to his meaning; so that “extrinsecus” would ="extrinsic to any direct injunction of our Lord or His apostles.”


Acts 2:1, 14, 15.


Communitatis omnis (Oehler). Mr. Dodgson renders, “of every sort of common thing.” Perhaps, as Routh suggests, we should read “omnium.”


Vasculo. But in Acts it is, σκεῦός τι ὡς ὀθόνην μεγάλην [Small is here comparatively used, with reference to Universality of which it was the symbol.]


Acts x. 9.


Acts iii. 1: but the man is not said to have been “paralytic,” but “lame from his mother’s womb.”


Dan. 6:10, Ps. 55:17 (in the LXX. it is liv. 18).

Next: Of the Parting of Brethren.

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