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82). Therefore, Orgien suggest that, "To be is to participate in him who is" and this participation is facilitated through prayer.
In terms of the benefits of prayer Origen refers to aspects such as inner peace, the prevention of sins and the promotion of good deeds. The theme of the distinction between the body, the world of nature and the mundane world of human activity and the Godly dimension is also related to the benefits of prayer. Origen therefore refers to the soul as being "elevated above earthly matter" in the process of prayer in order to contemplate God. "The inward mind is the correlate of God, and it is in the mind, not in the body, that we are to find the image of God in man, which is the 'affinity' to God of which the Platonists speak" (Chadwick, 1984, p.113)
In the first part of the treatise on prayer, Origen stresses that prayer is not intended to ask for the earthly things but rather is intended to derive supernatural or transcendent result or rewards. This view is reiterated in his analysis of the Lord's Prayer and in the reference to 'daily bread'. The daily bread that we receive does not refer in Origen's analysis to any material or earthly sustenance but rather to the Father of life, who is the Logos or the 'the Bread of life' (Prayer). Therefore this again repeats the view that the central aim of prayer is not for material needs but rather to align oneself with the will and intentions of God.
In his intriguing analysis of the Lord's Prayer, Origen expands on many of the above themes; this includes the advantages of prayer and the highest ideals of prayer that extends beyond the material world. He also deals with an exposition of the methods that should be used in prayer. This intensive view of prayer can also be related to his view of "Our Father, who art in heaven." He focuses on the meaning of 'Father' and refers to the issue of true adoption. Only those who "…received this spirit of adoption and prove that they are children and images of God by their actions can recite the prayer rightly" ( Prayer). In other words, the efficacy of the Lord's Prayer depends in the first instance on the understanding of the correct relationship between God and man. Without this deeper understanding prayer can have no real effect. To add to this view Origen refers to the Greek term epiousios as the substance of things, which is incorporeal in itself. The bread we request in the Lord's Prayer can therefore be understood be the bread of the Word of God, which is Wisdom and Truth ( Prayer).
This stance can also be seen in the interpretation that he gives to forgiving our debtors in the Lords Prayer. Origen also refers to the debts that we have to ourselves. By this he means that we should not use out body in a way that detracts or deviates from our adoration of God. Origen therefore interprets this prayer in terms of dedication and supplication to the will of God.
Another important aspect of the treatise that should be mentioned is that Origen to Paul's call to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17) (Trigg, 1998, p. 42). This refers to the intensity of the meaning of prayer and to the view that life should be a continuous prayer. For Origen prayer is an essential and integral part of life, when it is understood in terms of its true aims and intentions. In this sense, good and virtuous actions and deeds are considered as part of prayer.
In Origen's philosophy we as human beings are on a journey to perfection and prayer is a central and crucial aspect of this journey. A number of points are profoundly important in this treatise in terms of the development of Christian thought. The first is the recognition of God as non-anthropocentric and the second is the emphasis on the intensity and depth of prayer as means of interacting with and understanding the ineffable will of God. Prayer is a way towards a fulfilled spiritual life and not a means of acquiring early goods or improving one's mundane existence.
One of the most cogent comments of Origen's view of prayer comes from Pope Benedict XVI, who summarizes Origen's central theological attitude. He states that, "Despite the theological wealth found in his thought, his is never a purely academic treatment; it is always founded on the experience of prayer, on contact with God. (Origen's Teachings on Prayer and Church) The emphasis on a deep and all-pervading spiritual involvement and contact with God is implied in Origen's view of prayer. Prayer is not sewn as an objective process but as a form of intimacy and love for God. As Pope Benedict XVI states, "He is convinced that the privileged path to knowing God is love and that one cannot give an authentic "scientia Christi" without falling in love with him" (Origen's Teachings on Prayer and Church).
Chadwick, H. (1984). Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition: Studies in Justin, Clement, and Origen. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved April 27, 2009, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=12288379
Greer, R.A., (Trans.) (1979) Origen. New York: Paulist Press.
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Pleroma. Retrieved April 26, 2009 from http://altreligion.about.com/library/glossary/bldefpleroma.htm
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Trigg, J.W. (1998). Origen. London:…[continue]
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