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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter XII. Of Prayer.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XII.

Of Prayer.

Prayers are those by which we offer or vow something to God, what the Greeks call εὐκή, i.e., a vow. For where we read in Greek ς ἐυκάς μου τῶ κυρίῶ ἀποδώσω, in Latin we read: “I will pay my vows unto the Lord;” 1594 where according to the exact force of the words it may be thus represented: “I will pay my prayers unto the Lord.” And this which we find in Ecclesiastes: “If thou vowest a vow unto the Lord do not delay to pay it,” is written in Greek likewise: ν ἐύξῃ ἐυχὴν τῶ κυρίῶ, i.e., “If thou prayest a prayer unto the Lord, do not delay to pay it,” 1595 which will be fulfilled in this way by each one of us. We pray, when we renounce this world and promise that being dead to all worldly actions and the life of this world we will serve the Lord with full purpose of heart. We pray when we promise that despising secular honours and scorning earthly riches we will cleave to the Lord in all sorrow of heart and humility of spirit. We pray when we promise that we will ever maintain the most perfect purity of body and steadfast patience, or when we vow that we will utterly root out of our heart the roots of anger or of sorrow that worketh death. And if, enervated by sloth and returning to our former sins we fail to do this we shall be guilty as regards our prayers and vows, and these words will apply to us: “It is better not to vow, than to vow and not to pay,” which can be rendered in accordance with the Greek: “It is better for thee not to pray than to pray and not to pay.” 1596



Psa. 116.14.


Eccl. v. 3.


Eccl. 5.4.

Next: Chapter XIII. Of Intercession.

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