The practice of continuous prayer has been known in the Christian church as early as the second century AD, well before the beginning of Christian monasticism. One of the ways early Christians practiced continuous prayer was through the repetition of short bible verses throughout the day. While this mode of prayer did not have any specific name until the twentieth century, its practice has always been characterized by the imagery of warfare and, more specifically, the use of arrows. It was probably this that gave rise to its name, the Arrow Prayer, on account of its brevity and its use to attack evil thoughts. However, most research on continuous prayer only focuses on the Jesus Prayer, and presumes that the Arrow Prayer and other prayer practices are extensions of it. In this book, Fr Anthony St Shenouda scrutinizes this conclusion by examining the sources that attest to any practice of continuous prayer, and the cultural backdrop that gave rise to these practices. Ultimately, he argues that the tradition of the Arrow Prayer is much older than the Jesus Prayer, and that it is the parent tradition out of which the Jesus Prayer arose.
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Number of pages: 124
Weight: 363 g
Dimensions: 229 x 161 x 15 mm
At War in Prayer traces the practice of continuous prayer that was developed in the early church and was later formulated and regularly practiced by the desert monks in Egypt. Shenouda begins in the pre-Constantinian period, tracing the development well into the twentieth century. Shenouda challenges many of the preconceived ideas about the practice of continuous prayer that have been mostly influenced by the Eastern Orthodox tradition of the Jesus Prayer. This book is a valuable contribution to the history of the practice of prayer in the monastic tradition.--Mark Sheridan, OSP, Pontificio Ateneo Sant'Anselmo, emeritus
This monograph At War in Prayer: The History of the Practice of the Arrow Prayer traces the late antique roots of a key tradition of Eastern Christian piety--continuous prayer-- and makes these roots accessible to both scholars and an interested general public, thus providing an important contribution to both Coptic Studies and the wider history of Christian worship.--Heike Behlmer, University of Goettingen
Fr. Anthony St. Shenouda puts forward a convincing argument that the Coptic "Arrow Prayer" and the Athonite "Jesus Prayer" have a common source in the early Christian theme of ceaseless prayer. The two traditions developed differently, but without abandoning their common roots. This contribution, I am certain, will generate a renewed scholarly interest in mapping out the morphology of Christian devotion through the centuries. I also hope that the Shenouda's findings will contribute to the rapprochement of the two estranged Orthodox families, Oriental and Eastern, which hold much more in common, at least regarding spirituality, than currently believed.--Doru Costache, St Cyril's Coptic Orthodox Theological College (Sydney College of Divinity)