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The oldest Christian prayer outside of the Bible

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The prayer was written near the end of the first century.

Scripture is full of prayers from front to cover, but after the final page of Revelation, how did the early Christians pray to God?

The oldest known Christian prayer outside of the Bible can be found in the works of St. Clement of Rome, the fourth pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He held the office of Successor of St. Peter from 88 to 99, and is said to have been consecrated a bishop by St. Peter himself.

He wrote a prayer that historian A. Hamman, O.F.M. calls a “Prayer for All Needs.” It is a beautiful prayer, rich in symbolism and firmly rooted in the Gospel message. Below is an except of this ancient prayer (which is quite lengthy). For the full prayer, check out Early Christian Prayers.

You alone watch over the interests of spiritual beings,
you are the God of all flesh.
You gaze into the depths,
you watch what men are doing.
You are our help in danger,
you save the despairing,
Creator and Keeper of all that is spiritual.
You give increase to the peoples of the earth,
and from them all you chose us out to love you,
through Jesus Christ, your dear Child,
who brought us instruction, holiness and honor.

We beg you, Lord,
to help and defend us.
Deliver the oppressed,
pity the insignificant,
raise the fallen,
show yourself to the needy,
heal the sick,
bring back those of your people who have gone astray,
feed the hungry,
lift up the weak,
take off the prisoners’ chains.
May every nation come to know
that you alone are God,
that Jesus Christ is your Child,
that we are your people, the sheep that you pasture.

You have shown by what you have made and done
how the world has been planned from eternity.
The earth is your creation, Lord,
yours that are true to every generation,
just when you judge,
your strength and splendour a marvel.
Such competence yours in creating,
such skill in setting firm the things you make,
your goodness apparent in this world to see.
You are loyal to those who trust you,
merciful, compassionate.
Forgive us our sins, our injustice,
Our falls, our jarring deeds.

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