After the Apostles passed off the scene, the Church was momentarily unsure of how to proceed. Most had expected that Jesus would return during the lifetime of the Apostles.
Fortunately, a second wave of leaders were coming onto the scene, known collectively today as the Church Fathers. They were strong of faith and ability, though they were certainly never quite as popular or widely known as the eleven Apostles. You may (or may have not) ever heard of their names: Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Ignatius of Antioch. You may not even be able to pronounce their names!
They gave their ministries (and sometimes their very life) to protect the true Gospel of Christ and guard against error. As such, they each tended to focus on the problems and errors of their local communities and congregations. If you read their works, you will see a great diversity in focus. Yet, there was one important issue that nearly every bishop and theologian of Late Antiquity (the time period right after Christ) wrote on:
Each bishop shaped the discussion as they weighed in on the proper timing, content, and location of prayer. Though each added their own perspective and flavor, they spoke with strength of unity about the important of praying without ceasing. The idea of unceasing prayer is best on display in the Apostle Paul’s command to the church in Thessalonica: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).
To them, the only way this could be accomplished was in community. How could a single individual be in prayer 24-7-365?True prayer without ceasing can only be accomplished in community. Click To Tweet
As such, the Church Fathers built on the Jewish example of prayers at fixed hours—about which the Bible gives fantastic support (but that is another post for another day). These times became known as “offices,” where one would go into a room to meet with the Divine in prayer.
The Early Church believed that a life of regular devotion to prayer was a powerful tool of faith formation.
PRACTICE: For one week, set an exact time where you will commit to pray each day. Do not miss the time. Set an alarm on your phone to help remind you. If you happen to be in the middle of something when the time comes each day, then excuse yourself from it in order to go into your “office” for prayer.