Piety of Early Christians

Featuring Worshipedia Posted on May 30, 2010

Individual piety finds no less expression in the life and teaching of the apostles than in that of the Lord. Paul is a good example. He practices (1 Thessalonians 2:1) and urges (1 Thessalonians 5:17) unceasing prayer. He calls for prayer in support of his ministry (Ephesians 6:18). In many passages he indicates the content of his own prayers, which in the Epistles at least are largely intercessory in character (Philippians 1:4–11; Colossians 1:9–12), though a passage like Philippians 3:8–11 becomes almost a prayer of aspiration, and his first Christian prayer (Acts 9:11) was almost certainly a prayer for forgiveness and enlightenment. The indication of content is even more extended in Ephesians 3:14–21, which seems to have been dictated by the apostle quite literally on his knees in the gesture of individual prayer (Daniel 6:10). This prayer of petition characteristically moves to a doxological climax that expresses the confidence of faith and that sees in all God’s work a fulfillment of the first request of the Lord’s Prayer. Steeped as he is in Old Testament and Jewish forms, Paul adopts quite naturally a liturgical language that is a free adaptation of existing phrases. The intensity of his faith and devotion, allied to extensive biblical knowledge, produces a perfect blend of dignity and fervor.

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