X. — Exhortations to Prayer, Humility, Etc.

We are to pray ceaselessly for others, that they may repent. Our prayers should be of asking God to have the same virtues of humility and opposing wrath and blasphemies by our earnest prayers.

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And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men; for there is hope of the repentance, that they may attain to God. For “cannot he that falls arise again, and he That goes astray return?” (Jer_8:4) Permit them, then, to be instructed by you. Be ye therefore the ministers of God, and the mouth of Christ. For thus saith the Lord, “If ye take forth the precious from the vile, ye shall be as my mouth.” (Jer_15:19) Be ye humble in response to their wrath; oppose to their blasphemies your earnest prayers; while they go astray, stand ye steadfast in the faith. Conquer ye their harsh temper by gentleness, their passion by meekness. For “blessed are the meek;” (Mat_5:4) and Moses was meek above all men; (Num_12:3) and David was exceeding meek. (Psa_131:2) Wherefore Paul exhorts as follows: “The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle towards all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.” (2Ti_2:24-25) Do not seek to avert ourselves on those that injure you, for says [the Scripture], If I have returned evil to those who returned evil to me.” (Psa_7:4) Let us make them brethren by our kindness. For say ye to those that hate you, Ye are our brethren, that the name of the Lord may be glorified. And let us imitate the Lord, “who, when He was reviled, reviled not again;” (1Pe_2:23) when He was crucified, He answered not; “when He suffered, He threatened not;” (1Pe_2:23) but prayed for His enemies, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” (Luk_23:34) If anyone, the more he is injured, displays the more patience, blessed is he. If anyone is defrauded, if anyone is despised, for the name of the Lord, he truly is the servant of Christ. Take heed that no plant of the devil be found among you, for such a plant is bitter and salt. “Watch ye, and be ye sober,” (1Pe_4:7) in Christ Jesus.

~Ignatius- Epistle to the Ephesians Vol. 1

Commandment Ninth. — Prayer Must Be Made to God Without Ceasing and with Unwavering Confidence.

Doubt is the number one killer for our prayers. We must repent in our hearts and turn back to God for him to answer our prayers. There are also reasons why our prayers are not answered right away, however it does not mean that you stop praying. Here are answers for why our prayers are not readily answered.

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He says to me, Put away doubting from you, and do not hesitate to ask of the Lord, saying to yourself, ‘How can I ask of the Lord and receive from Him, seeing I have sinned so much against Him?’ Do not thus reason with yourself, but with all your heart turn to the Lord, and ask of Him without doubting, and you will know the multitude of His tender mercies; that He will never leave you, but fulfil the request of your soul. For He is not like men, who remember evils done against them; but He Himself remembers not evils, and has compassion on His own creature. Cleanse, therefore, your heart from all the vanities of this world, and from the words already mentioned, and ask of the Lord and you will receive all, and in none of your requests will you be denied which you make to the Lord without doubting. But if you doubt in your heart, you will receive none of your requests. For those who doubt regarding God are double-souled, and obtain not one of their requests. But those who are perfect in faith ask everything, trusting in the Lord; and they obtain, because they ask nothing doubting, and not being double-souled. For every double-souled man, even if he repent, will with difficulty be saved. Cleanse your heart, therefore, from all doubt, and put on faith, because it is strong, and trust God that you will obtain from Him all that you ask. And if at any time, after you have asked of the Lord, you are slower in obtaining your request [than you expected], do not doubt because you have not soon obtained the request of your soul; for invariably it is on account of some temptation or some sin of which you are ignorant that you are slower in obtaining your request. Wherefore do not cease to make the request of your soul, and you will obtain it. But if you grow weary and waver in your request, blame yourself, and not Him who does not give to you. Consider this doubting state of mind, for it is wicked and senseless, and turns many away entirely from the faith, even though they be very strong. For this doubting is the daughter of the devil, and acts exceedingly wickedly to the servants of God. Despise, then, doubting, and gain the mastery over it in everything; clothing yourself with faith, which is strong and powerful. For faith promises all things, perfects all things; but doubt having no thorough faith in itself, fails in every work which it undertakes. You see, then,” says he, “that, faith is from above from the Lord — and has great power; but doubt is an earthly spirit, coming from the devil, and has no power. Serve, then, that which has power, namely faith, and keep away from doubt, which has no power, and you will live to God. And all will live to God whose minds have been set on these things.”

~Hermas- The Shepard Book II Part 1 Vol. 2

Commandment Fifth. — Of Sadness of Heart, and of Patience. Chap. I.

Anger is such a vile spirit; the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in a vessel that has the spirit of anger out bursting within a person. The anger pollutes the vessel, person. Because of that spirit of anger the prayers of that person are often not useful to God.

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“Be patient,” said he, “and of good understanding, and you will rule over every wicked work, and you will work all righteousness. For if you be patient, the Holy Spirit that dwells in you will be pure. He will not be darkened by any evil spirit, but, dwelling in a broad region, he will rejoice and be glad; and with the vessel in which he dwells he will serve God in gladness, having great peace within himself. But if any outburst of anger take place, forthwith the Holy Spirit, who is tender, is straitened, not having a pure place, and He seeks to depart. For he is choked by the vile spirit, and cannot attend on the Lord as he wishes, for anger pollutes him. For the Lord dwells in long-suffering, but the devil in anger. The two spirits, then, when dwelling in the same habitation, are at discord with each other, and are troublesome to that man in whom they dwell. (Jam_3:11) For if an exceedingly small piece of wormwood be taken and put into a jar of honey, is not the honey entirely destroyed, and does not the exceedingly small piece of wormwood entirely take away the sweetness of the honey, so that it no longer affords any gratification to its owner, but has become bitter, and lost its use? But if the wormwood be not put into the honey, then the honey remains sweet, and is of use to its owner. You see, then, that patience is sweeter than honey, and useful to God, and the Lord dwells in it. But anger is bitter and useless. Now, if anger be mingled with patience, the patience is polluted, and its prayer is not then useful to God.” “I should like, sir,” said I, “to know the power of anger, that I may guard myself against it.” And he said, “If you do not guard yourself against it, you and your house lose all hope of salvation. Guard yourself, therefore, against it. For I am with you, and all will depart from it who repent with their whole heart. For I will be with them, and I will save them all. For all are justified by the most holy angel.

~Hermas- The Shepard Book II Part 1 Vol. 2

XI. - When Praying the Father, You Are Not to Be Angry with a Brother.

We cannot offer prayers to the Lord if we have any anger in our hearts and thoughts towards another brother. Our prayers will not be accepted because our spirit is defiled by our thoughts. If we have any thoughts that bring anxiety and uneasiness in our thoughts it will not be welcomed, or acknowledged by the Holy Spirit.

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That we may not be as far from the ears of God as we are from His precepts, the memory of His precepts paves for our prayers a way unto heaven; of which precepts the chief is, that we go not up unto God’s altar [Heb_13:10] before we compose whatever of discord or offence we have contracted with our brethren. (Mat_5:22-23) For what sort of deed is it to approach the peace of God (perhaps may be an allusion to Phi_4:6-7) without peace? The remission of debts (see chap. vii. above, and compare Mat_6:14-15) while you retain them? How will he appease his Father who is angry with his brother, when from the beginning “all anger” is forbidden us? For even Joseph, when dismissing his brethren for the purpose of fetching their father, said, “And be not angry in the way.” (Gen_45:24) He warned us, to be sure, at that time (for elsewhere our Discipline is called “the Way” (see Act_9:2; Act_19:9, Act_19:23, in the Greek)), that when, set in “the way” of prayer, we go not unto “the Father” with anger. After that, the Lord, “amplifying the Law,” (see Mat_5:17) openly adds the prohibition of anger against a brother to that of murder. (Mat_5:21-22) Not even by an evil word does He permit it to be vented. (Mat_5:21-22; 1Pe_3:9) Ever if we must be angry, our anger must not be maintained beyond sunset, as the apostle admonishes. (Eph_4:26) But how rash is it either to pass a day without prayer, while you refuse to make satisfaction to your brother; or else, by perseverance in anger, to lose your prayer?

 


 

XII. – We Must Be Free Likewise from All Mental Perturbation.

 

Nor merely from anger, but altogether from all perturbation of mind, ought the exercise of prayer to be free, uttered from a spirit such as the Spirit unto whom it is sent. For a defiled spirit cannot be acknowledged by a Holy Spirit, (Eph_4:30) nor a sad by a joyful, (Joh_17:14; Rom_14:17) nor a lettered by a free. (Psa_51:12) No one grants reception to his adversary: no one grants admittance except to his compeer.

~Tertullian- On Prayer Vol. 3