Prayers at church

The following prayers were drawn together from various sources as a fountain of inspiration for the faithful of Lowell and the online community.

This Orthodox Prayer Book was prepared in love to be distributed free of charge, so that all may benefit from the divine proceeds that come from a devoted prayer life. It is humbly offered as an encouragement and guide to Orthodox Christians to grow in prayer and to continue, in earnest, the work of our Lord.

Table of Contents

Quotes on Prayer

Daily Prayers

Mealtime Prayers

Prayers at Church

Family Prayers

Prayers in Time of Illness

Prayers in Time of Trouble

General Prayers

Prayers for Study

Prayers for the Dead

Communion Prayers

Morning Service

Evening Service

Acknowledgements

Quotes on Prayer

“When mind and heart are united in prayer and the soul is wholly concentrated in a single desire for God, then the heart grows warm and the light of Christ begins to shine and fills the inward man with peace and joy. We should thank the Lord for everything and give ourselves up to His will; we should also offer Him all our thoughts and words, and strive to make everything serve only His good pleasure.”
-St. Seraphim of Sarov

“Prayer is a great weapon, a rich treasure, a wealth that is never exhausted, an undisturbed refuge, a cause of tranquillity, the root of a multitude of blessings and their source.”
-St. John Chrysostom

“Prayer is a conversation directly with God, being always with God, having one’s soul united with Him and one’s mind inseparable. A person becomes one with the angels and unites with them in perpetual praise and longing for God.”
-St. Symeon of Thessaloniki

Daily Prayers

Morning Prayers

Trisagion Prayers

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory to You, Christ our God, our hope, Glory to You! Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, present in all places and filling all things, Treasury of Goodness and Giver of life: come and abide in us. Cleanse us from every stain of sin and save our souls, O Gracious Lord.

Holy God. Holy Mighty. Holy Immortal Have mercy on us.(3)

Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen All Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, forgive our sins. Master, pardon our transgressions. Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities, for the glory of Your name.

Lord, have mercy.(3)

Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Prayers to the Holy Trinity Having risen from sleep, we worship You, blessed God, and sing to You, mighty Lord, the angelic hymn: Holy, holy, holy are You, O God; through the prayers of the Theotokos, have mercy on us.

Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Having awakened me from sleep, Lord, enlighten my mind and heart. Open my lips to praise You Holy Trinity: Holy, holy, holy are You, O God; through the prayers of the Theotokos, have mercy on me.

Both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen

Suddenly the Judge will come and the deeds of all will be revealed. Therefore, early in the morning let us cry out in awe: Holy, holy, holy are you, O God; through the prayers of the Theotokos have mercy on us.

Prayer of Metropolitan Philaret Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me. Amen.

(Here you may add your own private prayers and intercessions, using your own words or some of the prayers found in this Pryaer Book. When you have finished, conclude with this prayer:)

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

Evening Prayers (First say the Trisagion Prayers just as in the morning)

Psalm 141:1-2 Listen to me when I call to you. Receive my prayer as incense, my lifted hands as an evening sacrifice.

Prayers of Thanksgiving Now that the day has ended, I thank you Lord, and I ask that the evening and the night be sinless. Grant this to me, O Savior, and save me.

Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Now that the day has passed, I glorify you, O Master, and I ask that the evening and the night be without offense. Grant this to me, O Savior, and save me.

Both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen

Now that the day has run its course, I praise you, O Holy One, and I ask that the evening and the night be undisturbed. Grant this to me, O Savior, and save me.

Prayers for Forgiveness Lord, God our Father, if during this day I have sinned in word, deed or thought forgive me in Your goodness and love. Grant me peaceful sleep; protect me from all evil and awake me in the morning that I may glorify you, Your Son and Your Holy Spirit now and forever and ever. Amen.

Prayers for Enlightenment Christ our God, who is worshipped and glorified at all times and in every hour in heaven and on earth; who is most patient, loving and kind; who loves the just and shows mercy to sinners; who calls all to salvation through the promise of the blessings to come; Lord, at this time receive our prayer and direct our lives according to Your will. Bless our souls and bodies. Correct our thoughts and purify our minds. Protect us from all evil and distress. Surround us with Your holy angels, that guided and guarded by them, we may attain the unity of the faith and the knowledge of Your unapproachable glory, for you are blessed forever and ever. Amen.

(Here you may add your own private prayers and intercessions, using your own words or some of the prayers found in this Prayer Book. When you have finished, conclude with this prayer:)

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

(As you lie down to sleep say:) Lord, into Your hands I commend my soul and body. Bless me, be merciful to me and grant me life eternal. Amen.

Daily Meditation (At 7:00 a.m. or upon arising from sleep, we ask God to guide us through the day with His light.)

Christ, the true Light, You enlighten and sanctify every man. May Your light shine in us that we may see Your radiance. Help us to live according to Your commandments, through the prayers of Your all-pure Mother and all Your Saints. Amen.

(At 9:00 a.m. – At this hour the disciples received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.)

Lord God, Almighty Father, Only Son, Lord Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit, one God and one Power, have mercy on me a sinner and save me Your unworthy servant according to the ways of Your wisdom, for You are blessed forever and ever. Amen.

(At 12:00 noon – At this hour Jesus Christ was crucified.)

God, Maker of all creation, accept these prayers of appreciation and petition from us sinners, and deliver us from any fatal fall into darkness and from all enemies, visible or invisible. Lord, who loves everyone, by Your great mercy, You have sent Your only son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, for the salvation of all, and by Your Holy Cross, have cancelled the debt of our sins and defeated the powers of darkness. Penetrate our bodies with Your power and wrap our hearts with love in You, that we might always gaze upon You and be guided by Your eternal light. We give unending praise and thanks to You, eternal Father, to Your only Son and to Your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever and ever. Amen.

(3:00 p.m. – At this hour Jesus died on the Cross.)

Master, Lord Jesus Christ our God, who patiently endured our sins and led us to this hour, at which You were hung on the life-giving Cross, who opened the way to Paradise for the penitent thief and destroyed death by Your death, have mercy on us Your sinful and unworthy servants. We have sinned and violated Your law; we are unworthy to lift up our eyes and look into the heights of heaven, for we have forsaken the path of Your righteousness and have walked according to the desires of our hearts. But now we beg You in Your abundant goodness; spare us, Lord, in Your great mercy and save us for the glory of Your Holy Name, for our days were spent in vain. Save us from the hand of the enemy, forgive our sins and destroy the desires of our flesh, that we might live anew in You, our Master and Benefactor. Help us follow Your commandments, and attain eternal rest, where all the blessed dwell. For You are truly the joy of all those who love You, Christ our God, and we glorify Your eternal Father and Your all holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever and ever. Amen.

The Creed I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father, through whom all things were made. For us and for our salvation, He came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and He suffered and was buried. On the third day He rose according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. His Kingdom will have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who spoke through the prophets. In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I expect the resurrection of the dead. And the life of the age to come. Amen.

The Jesus Prayer (Repeat this prayer as many times as possible regularly during the day)

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Prayers to Your Patron Saint Saint (Name), Holy Mother of God and all the saints, who have pleased God in Your lives; pray to Christ my Lord that I might live this day in peace love and humility. Pray unto God for me, O Holy Saint (Name), well-pleasing to God: for I turn to you, who are a speedy helper and intercessor for my soul.

Prayer to Your Guardian Angel O Angel of Christ, holy guardian and protector of my soul and body, forgive me of everything I have done to offend you every day, and protect me from all influence and temptation of the evil one. May I never offend God by my sin. Pray for me to the Lord, that He may make me worthy of the grace of the All-holy Trinity, and of the Most Blessed Theotokos, and of all the Saints. Amen.

Mealtime Prayers

Various Prayers Before Meals

Christ our God, bless us Your servants, our home, the food and drink before us for You are the Source of all blessings, now and forever and ever. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ our God, You blessed the five loaves in the wilderness and fed the multitudes of men, women and children. Bless also these Your gifts and increase them for the hungry people in the world. You are the One who blesses and sanctifies all things and to You we give glory forever. Amen.

The hungry shall eat and shall be satisfied. Those who seek the Lord shall praise Him; their hearts shall live forever. Bless us Lord and Your gifts which we are about to receive. You are blessed and glorified forever. Amen.

Various Prayers After Meals

We thank you, Christ our God, for providing us with Your earthly gifts. Deprive us not of Your heavenly Kingdom. Lord, as you entered among Your disciples to give them peace, enter among us, give us Your peace and save us. Amen.

Glory to You, Lord and King! You have gladdened our hearts through Your earthly gifts. Fill us also with the gift of Your Holy Spirit, that we may abound in every good work to the glory of Your name. Amen.

We thank You Lord, Giver of all good things, for these Your gifts and all Your mercies, and we bless Your holy name forever. Amen.

Prayers At Church

Prayer Upon Entering A Church

I will come into Your house in the greatness of Your mercy: and in fear I will worship toward Your holy temple. Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before me, that with a clear mind I may glorify You forever, One Divine Power worshiped in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Prayer Upon Leaving A Church

Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all people; a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.

Prayer At the Icon of Christ

We reverence Your spotless icon, O gracious Lord, and ask forgiveness of our transgressions, O Christ our God. Because of Your own good will You ascended the Cross in the flesh, that You might deliver those who You had created from the bondage of the enemy. We cry aloud unto You: You have filled all things with joy, O our Savior, for You came to save the world. Amen.

Prayer At the Icon of the Theotokos

Tenderness springs forth from you, O Theotokos, make us worthy of compassion. Look upon sinful people, reveal your power for ever as we hope in you and cry aloud: Hail! as did the Archangel Gabriel, Chief Captain of the Bodiless Powers. Amen.

Family Prayers

Family or Group Prayer

Leader: May the grace or our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.

All: And with your Spirit.

All: You have given us grace at this time to offer You a common prayer together and have promised that when two or three are gathered together in Your name, that You will grant their requests; fulfill, Lord, the prayers of Your servants, which are for our welfare, grant us the knowledge of Your truth in this world and life everlasting in the world to come. Amen.

(At this point you may add your own private prayers and intercessions, using your own words or some of the prayers found in this Prayer Book. When you have finished, conclude with the following prayer:)

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

Parent’s Prayer for Their Children, Relatives & Friends

O God, our heavenly Father, who loves mankind and are a most merciful and compassionate God, have mercy upon Your servants (Name those whom you wish to remember) for whom I humbly pray to You to care for and protect. O God, be their guide and guardian in all their endeavors, lead them in the path of Your truth, and draw them nearer to You, so that they may lead a godly and righteous life in Your love as they do Your will in all things. Give them Your grace, and mercy so that they may be patient, hard working, tireless, devout and charitable. Defend them against the assaults of the enemy, and grant them wisdom and strength to resist all temptation and corruption, and direct them in the way of Salvation, through the goodness of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, and the prayers of His Holy Mother and the blessed saints. Amen.

Prayer of a Single Parent

Lord Jesus Christ my God, who carried Your own Holy Cross to Golgotha, grant me the strength, patience and wisdom to bear the burdens of parenthood. Fulfill in me anything I may be lacking and grant that through our prayers and those of Your Holy Mother, our family may grow closer to You and a Life in Christ. Amen

Prayer for Your Parents

Lord and Savior, You have taught us to honor our fathers and mothers, and to show love and obedience toward them. From the depth of my heart I fervently pray to You, Jesus, my God: hear my prayer. Bless my parents who have raised me up with the help of Your grace. Protect them from evil, harm and sickness. Grant them faith, health and joy. Bless all their works that they may give You honor and glory all the days of their lives. Amen

Child’s Prayer

Heavenly Father, bless my parents and all those who love and care for me. Help me in all ways to be respectful and obedient to them according to Your will. Send down upon me Your grace to perform all my duties carefully and faithfully, to avoid unacceptable company and influence and to resist all temptation that may come my way. Help me Lord to live a serious, good and godly life, praising You constantly and glorifying Your holy Name. Amen.

Praying With Toddlers

Teach them early to venerate icons and to Cross themselves. Explain simple concepts of God and Jesus. Pray with them by helping enumerate their blessings:
Jesus loves my _______ . Thank you God, for _______ .

Prayer of A Married Person

Lord Jesus Christ, by Your presence You blessed the wedding in Cana and showed us that You are the true priest of mystical and pure marriage. We thank You for the day on which by Your heavenly blessing You joined us in the sacrament of marriage. Lord, continue to bless and enrich our marriage in love companionship, mutual support, oneness of heart and progress in faith and life. Protect our Holy wedlock from sin, evil and danger. Nurture between us the spirit of understanding, the spirit of forgiveness and the spirit of peace, that no resentment, quarrel or other problem may cause us to stumble and fall. Grant us to see our own faults and not to judge each other. Keep our bond of love always new. Gladden our lives with the joys of marriage, that with one heart we may praise and glorify You. Amen.

Prayer of A Single Person

Jesus my Lord, Who became man and graced us with the beauty of Your life and with the example of faith, purity and love; help me, I pray, to love You with all my mind, heart and soul, and to live according to Your teachings. Strengthen me when temptations strike, that I may remain pure in thought and steadfast in virtue, doing only things that are pleasing to You. Guide me to live Your will and not my own as I look to the future. Grant me faith, courage and love, that I may serve You in holiness all the days of my life, through the prayers of the Theotokos and of all the Saints. Amen.

Prayer of A Widow or Widower

Lord Jesus Christ, Who through your mercy, resurrected the only son of the widow in Nain; I pray to You in need and all alone, putting my hope in God and asking for help. O You who fulfill our every need and complete everything we lack, grant me faith, courage, love and understanding of Your Will. Remember Your Servant (name of spouse) in Your kingdom, always now and forever. Amen.

Prayers In Times of Illness

Prayer of A Sick Person

Heavenly Father, physician of our souls and bodies, Who have sent Your only-begotten Son and our Lord Jesus Christ to heal every sickness and infirmity, visit and heal also Your servant (name) from all physical and spiritual ailments through the grace of Your Christ. Grant him (her) patience in this sickness, strength of body and spirit, and recovery of health. Lord, You have taught us through Your word to pray for each other that we may be healed. I pray, heal Your servant (name) and grant to him (her) the gift of complete health. For You are the source of healing and to You I give glory, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

O Lord our God, Who by a word alone did heal all diseases, Who did cure the kinswoman of Peter, You Who chastise with pity and heal according to Your goodness; Who are able to put aside every sickness and infirmity, do You Yourself, the same Lord, grant aid to Your servant (name) and cure him (her) of every sickness of which he (she) is grieved; and send down upon him (her) Your great mercy, and if it be Your will, give to him (her) health and a complete recovery; for You are the Physician of our souls and bodies, and to You do we send up Glory: to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Both now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Thanksgiving After Recovery

Almighty God and heavenly Father, You are the fountain of life and healing. I bless Your holy name and offer to You thanks for having delivered me from sickness and restored me to health. Grant me Your eternal grace, I pray, that I may live a new life in true obedience to You. Guide me to do Your will in all things devoting my life to Your service. Thus living for You may I be found worthy of Your kingdom, where You dwell in glory with Your Son and Your Holy Spirit forever. Amen.

O Lord God Jesus Christ, the Life and strength of all that put their hope in You, Whose mercies are numberless, and the treasury goodness that is infinite, we give thanks to You for the blessings which You have bestowed., and we humbly beseech You to continue Your goodness toward us. As You have been well pleased to restore us to our bodily health, so do imbue our souls with all the heavenly graces, perseverance in good works, and prepare us by Your blessings in this life for the enjoyment of eternal happiness in the Life to come. For to You are due all glory, honor, and worship, as also to Your Eternal Father and Your All-holy Good and Life-creating Spirit, both now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Prayer for the Terminally Ill

Lord, Jesus Christ, Who suffered and died for our sins that we may live, if during our life we have sinned in word, deed or thought forgive us in Your goodness and love. All our hope we put in You; protect your servant (name) from all evil. We submit to Your will and into Your hands we commend our souls and bodies. For a Christian end to our lives, peaceful, without shame and suffering, and for a good account before the awesome judgment seat of Christ, we pray to you O Lord. Bless us, be merciful to us and grant us life eternal. Amen.

Prayers In Time of Trouble

Lord of the Powers

Lord of the Powers be with us, for in times of distress we have no other help but You. Lord of the Powers, have mercy on us.

Prayers In Time of Need

Almighty God, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, come to my help and deliver me from this difficulty that besets me. I believe Lord, that all trials of life are under Your care and that all things work for the good of those who love You. Take away from me fear, anxiety and distress. Help me to face and endure my difficulty with faith, courage and wisdom. Grant that this trial may bring me closer to You for You are my rock and refuge, my comfort and hope, my delight and joy. I trust in Your love and compassion. Blessed is Your name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

O God, our help in time of need, Who are just and merciful, and Who inclines to the supplications of His people. Look down upon me and have mercy on me and deliver me from the trouble that now besets me. Deal with us not according to our iniquities, but according to Your manifold mercies, for we are the works of Your hands, and You know our weaknesses. I pray to you to grant me Your divine helping grace, and endow me with patience and strength to endure my hardships with complete submission to Your Will. Only You know our misery and sufferings, and to You, our only hope and refuge, I flee for relief and comfort, trusting in Your infinite love and compassion, that in due time, when You know best, You will deliver me from this trouble, and turn my distress into comfort. We then shall rejoice in Your mercy, and exalt and praise Your Holy Name, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Prayer Against Demonic Influence

Almighty God, Who delivered Your people from the bondage of the adversary, and through Your Son cast down Satan like lightning, deliver me also from every influence of unclean spirits. Command Satan to depart far from me by the power of Your only begotten Son. Rescue me from demonic imaginings and darkness. Fill me with the light of the Holy Spirit that I may be guarded against all snares of crafty demons. Grant that an angel will always go before me and lead me to the path of righteousness all the days of my life, to the honor of Your glorious Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for Our Enemies

Lord Jesus Christ, in Your great mercy You prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified You, and You taught us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Lord, I pray that You forgive those who treat me unjustly and speak out against me, and that You bless them and guide them according to Your will. Take away any bitterness I may have in my heart against them. Lord, may Your forgiveness, goodness and love be revealed in all of us, to Your praise and glory. Amen.

Prayer for Peace

Almighty God and Creator, You are the Father of all people on the earth. Guide, I pray, all the nations and their leaders in the ways of justice and peace. Protect us from the evils of injustice, prejudice, exploitation, conflict and war. Help us to put away mistrust, bitterness and hatred. Teach us to cease the storing and using of implements of war. Lead us to find peace, respect and freedom. Unite us in the making and sharing of tools of peace against ignorance, poverty, disease and oppression. Grant that we may grow in harmony and friendship as brothers and sisters created in Your image, to Your honor and praise. Amen.

Thanksgiving After Trouble

Almighty and merciful God, I most humbly and heartily thank Your divine majesty for Your loving kindness and tender mercies, that You have heard my humble prayer, and graciously granted me deliverance from my trouble and misery. I pray to you to continue granting Your helping grace, that I may lead a life pleasing to You, that I may continually offer to You a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

General Prayers

Prayers Before Any Task

Lord Jesus Christ, my God, You have said, “Apart from me You can do nothing.” In faith I embrace Your words, Lord, and I entreat Your goodness. Help me to carry out the work I am about to begin, and to bring it to completion. To You I give glory, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Almighty God, our Help and Refuge, who knows that we can do nothing right without Your guidance and help; direct me by Your wisdom and power, that I may accomplish this task and, whatever I do according to Your divine will, so that it may be beneficial to me and others and to the glory of Your holy Name. Amen.

My Lord and Savior, You became man and labored with Your hands until the time of Your ministry. Bless me as I begin this work. Help me to bring it to completion. Lord, enlighten my mind and strengthen my body, that I may accomplish my task according to Your will. Guide me to bring about works of goodness to Your service and glory. Amen.

Prayer After Any Task

Thank You, Lord, for Your strength and guidance in my work. You are the fulfillment of all good things. Fill also my soul with joy and gladness, that I may praise You always. Amen.

Prayer Toward the Unknown

O Lord, You who steadied the hand of Peter as he began to sink on the stormy sea, if you are with me, no one is against me. Grant to me the shield of faith and the mighty armor of the Holy Spirit to protect me and guide me to do Your will. The future I put into Your hands, O Lord, and I follow You to a life in Christ. Amen

Prayers Before Travel

Lord Jesus Christ my God, be my Companion, guide and protector during my journey. Keep me from all danger, misfortune and temptation. By Your divine power grant me a peaceful and successful journey and safe arrival. In You I place my hope and trust and You I praise, honor and glorify, together with Your Father and Holy Spirit now and forever and ever. Amen.

Lord Jesus, You traveled with the two disciples after the resurrection and set their hearts on fire with Your grace. Travel also with me and gladden my heart with Your presence. I know, Lord, that I am a pilgrim on this earth, seeking the citizenship which is in heaven. During my journey surround me with Your holy angels and keep me safe from seen and unseen dangers. Grant that I may carry out my plans and fulfill my expectations according to Your will. Help me to see the beauty of creation and to comprehend the wonder of Your truth in all things. For You are the way, the truth and the life, and to You I give thanks, praise and glory forever. Amen

Prayers For Repentance

God, my good and loving Lord, I acknowledge all the sins which I have committed every day in my life, whether in thought, word or deed. I ask for forgiveness from the depths of my heart for offending You and others and repent of my old ways. Help me by Your grace to change, to sin no more and to walk in the way of righteousness and to praise and glorify Your Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

O Lord my God, I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word and deed. I have also omitted to do what Your holy law requires of me. But now with repentance and contrition I turn again to Your love and mercy. I entreat You to forgive me all my transgressions and to cleanse me from all my sins. Lord, fill my heart with the light of Your truth. Strengthen my will by Your grace. Teach me both to desire and to do only what pleases You. Amen.

Prayer For Love

Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord make me an Instrument of Your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Divine Master, grant that I may not seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Lenten Prayers

Almighty Master, who created all things in wisdom, by Your providence and great goodness, you have led us to this lenten season for purification of our souls and bodies, and for control of our passions in the hope of the resurrection; You, who after forty days gave Moses the tablets of the law inscribed by Your divine hand, grant to us the strength to fight the good fight, to fast, to keep the faith, to crush under foot all evil demons, and to become victorious over sin and to celebrate Your holy Resurrection. For blessed and glorified is Your most honored and majestic name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

Lord and Master of my life, deliver me from the spirit of laziness, meddling, ambition and gossip. Give me, Your servant, the spirit of prudence, humility, patience and love. Lord and King, grant that I may see my sins and faults and not judge my brother, for You are blessed forever and ever. Amen.

Prayer For Acceptance of God’s Will

Lord, I do not know what to ask of You. You know better than me what my needs are. You love more than I know how to love. Help me to see clearly my real needs which I do not see. I open my heart to You. Examine and reveal to me my faults and sins. I put all trust in You. I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will. Teach me how to pray. Pray in me. Amen.

Prayers For Study

Prayer of A Student

Christ my Lord, the Giver of light and wisdom, who opened the eyes of the blind man and transformed the fishermen into wise heralds and teachers of the gospel through the coming of the Holy Spirit, shine also in my mind the light of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Grant me discernment, understanding and wisdom in learning. Enable me to complete my assignments and to abound in every good work, for to You I give honor and glory. Amen.

Prayers Before Study

Most blessed Lord, send the grace of Your Holy Spirit on me to strengthen me that I may learn well the subject I am about to study and by it become a better person for Your glory, the comfort of my family and the benefit of Your Church and our Nation. Amen.

Christ, the true light, who enlightens and sanctifies every person coming into the world, let the light of Your countenance shine upon me (us) that I (we) may see Your unapproachable light; and guide my (our) steps in the way of Your commandments, through the intercessions of Your all-holy Mother and of all the Saints. Amen.

Prayer After Study

I thank You, Lord our God, that again on this occasion You have opened my eyes to the light of Your wisdom. You have gladdened my heart with the knowledge of truth. I entreat You, Lord, help me always to do Your will. Bless my soul and body, my words and deeds. Enable me to grow in grace, virtue and good habits, that Your name may be glorified, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer Before Studying the Bible

Master who loves us, shine Your eternal light in our hearts that we may better know you. Help us to fully understand Your gospel message. Instill in us respect for Your holy commandments, that by overcoming our worldly desires we might live a spiritual life of thoughts and deeds which pleases You. We ask this of You, O Christ our god, for You are the light of our souls and bodies and You we glorify with Your eternal Father and Your all-holy good and life-giving Spirit now and forever. Amen.

Shine within my heart, loving Master, the pure light of Your divine knowledge, and open the eyes of my mind that I may understand Your teachings. Instill in me also reverence for Your blessed commandments, so that having conquered sinful desires I may pursue a spiritual way of life, thinking and doing all those things that are pleasing to You. For You, Christ my God, are my light, and to You I give glory together with Your Father and Your Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Prayers For the Dead

General Prayers for the Dead

Christ our eternal King and God, You have destroyed death and the devil by Your Cross and have restored man to life by Your Resurrection; give rest, Lord, to the soul of Your servant (name) who has fallen asleep, in Your Kingdom, where there is no pain, sorrow or suffering. In Your goodness and love for all men, pardon all the sins he (she) has committed in thought word or deed, for there is no man or woman who lives and sins not, You only are without sin.

For You are the Resurrection, the Life, and Repose of Your servant (name), departed this life, O Christ our God; and to You do we send up glory with Your Eternal Father and Your All-holy, Good and Life-creating Spirit; both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Prayer For A Dead Child

O Lord who watches over children in the present life and in the world to come because of their simplicity and innocence of mind, abundantly satisfying them with a place in Abraham’s bosom, bringing them to live in radiantly shining places where the spirits of the righteous dwell: receive in peace the soul of Your little servant (name), for You Yourself have said, “Let the little children come to Me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Amen.

Prayer After A Miscarraige

O Sovereign Master, Lord our God, Who was born of the all-pure Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, and as an infant was laid in a manger: do You Yourself, according to Your great mercy, have regard for this Your servant (Name) who has miscarried that which was conceived in her. Heal her suffering, granting to her, O Loving Lord, health and strength of body and soul. Guard her with a shining Angel from every assault of sickness and weakness and all inward torment. You who accept the innocence of infancy in Your Kingdom, comfort the mind of Your servant and bring her peace. Amen.

Communion Prayers

Prayers Before Receiving Communion

Prayer of St. John Chrysostom

Lord, Jesus Christ my God, forgive the faults and sins which I, Your unworthy servant have committed from my youth to this day and hour, whether knowingly or in ignorance, whether by words, deeds, intentions or thoughts and whether by habit or through any of my senses. By the prayers of Your pure and Virgin Mother, make me worthy without condemnation to receive Your precious, immortal and life-giving Mysteries for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. May the Eucharist sanctify, enlighten, strengthen and heal my soul and body and thus destroy my evil thoughts, intentions and prejudices. For Yours, Christ our God, is the Kingdom, the power, the glory, the honor and worship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and ever. Amen.

Prayer of St. John of Damascus

Master and Lord, Jesus Christ our God, You alone have authority to forgive my sins, whether committed knowingly or in ignorance, and make me worthy to receive without condemnation Your divine, glorious, pure and life-giving Mysteries, not for my punishment, but for my purification and sanctification, now and in Your future Kingdom. For You, Christ our God are compassionate and love mankind and to You we give glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit now and forever and ever. Amen.

Prayers Immediately Preceding Communion

I believe and confess, Lord, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. I also believe that this is truly Your pure Body and that this is truly Your precious Blood. Therefore, I pray to You, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, in word and deed, known and unknown. And make me worthy without condemnation to partake of Your pure Mysteries for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life. Amen.

How shall I, who am unworthy, enter into the splendor of Your saints? If I dare to enter into the bridal chamber, my clothing will accuse me, since it is not a wedding garment; and being bound up, I shall be cast out by the angels. In Your love, Lord, cleanse my soul and save me.

Loving Master, Lord Jesus Christ, my God, let not these holy Gifts be to my condemnation because of my unworthiness, but for the cleansing and sanctification of soul and body and the pledge of the future life and kingdom. It is good for me to cling to God and to place in Him the hope of my salvation.

Receive me today, Son of God, as a partaker of Your mystical Supper. I will not reveal Your mystery to Your adversaries. Nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas. But as the thief I confess to You: Lord, remember me in Your Kingdom.

Prayers After Receiving Communion

Lord Jesus Christ, my God, now that I have received Your holy Body and Blood, grant me forgiveness of my sins and life everlasting.

I thank You, loving Master, benefactor of my soul, that on this day You have again made me worthy of Your heavenly and immortal mysteries. Direct my way on the right path. Establish me firmly in Your fear. Guard my life. And make my endeavors safe, through the prayers of the glorious Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary and of all Your Saints. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ my God, let Your sacred Body be unto me for eternal life and Your precious Blood for forgiveness of sins. Let this Eucharist be unto me for joy, health and gladness. And in Your awesome Second Coming make me, a sinner, worthy to stand at the right hand of Your glory; through the intercessions of Your pure Mother and of all Your Saints. Amen.

Morning Service

(An abbreviated Orthros Service for Retreats & Youth Gatherings).

Priest: Blessed is our God, always both now and forever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Priest: Glory to You, Christ our God, our hope, Glory to You!
Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, present in all places and filling all things, the Treasury of Blessings and Giver of life: come and abide in us. Cleanse us from all impurity and save our souls, O Good One.

The Trisagion Prayers

People: Amen.
Holy God. Holy Mighty. Holy Immortal Have mercy on us.(3)

Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

All Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, forgive our sins. Master, pardon our transgressions. Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities, for the glory of Your name.

Lord, have mercy.(3)

Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Priest: For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Prayers to the Holy Trinity

Having risen from sleep, we worship You, blessed God, and sing to You, mighty Lord, the angelic hymn: Holy, holy, holy are You, O God; through the prayers of the Theotokos have mercy on us.

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Having awakened me from sleep, Lord, enlighten my mind and heart. Open my lips to praise You Holy Trinity: Holy, holy, holy are You, O God; through the prayers of the Theotokos have mercy on me.

Both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Suddenly the Judge will come and the deeds of all will be revealed. Therefore, early in the morning let us cry out in awe: Holy, holy, holy are You, O God; through the prayers of the Theotokos have mercy on us.

The Great Litany

Priest: In peace let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: For the peace from above and the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: For the peace of the whole world, the stability of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: For this holy house, and for those who enter it with faith, reverence and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: For our Archbishop _______, our Bishop _______, the honorable presbyters, the deacons in the service of Christ, and all the clergy and laity, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: For our country, the president, and all those in public service, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: For our Youth Program, all those who participate and help and for their families, that the Holy Spirit may protect and strengthen their faith, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: For this city, for every city and country, and for the faithful who live in them, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: For favorable weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and temperate seasons, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: For travelers by sea, land and air, for the sick, the suffering, the captives and for their safety and salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: For our deliverance from all tribulation, wrath, danger and necessity, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Your grace.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: Remembering our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

People: To You, O Lord.

Priest: (In a low voice)
We give You thanks, Lord our God, for raising us from our bed and for putting words of praise into our mouths, that we may worship and invoke Your holy Name. We are in need of Your mercies, which You have always provided for our life. Now, too, send forth Your help to those who stand in the presence of Your holy glory, waiting for Your rich mercy. Grant that they may worship You always with awe and love; praising, singing, and glorifying Your inexpressible goodness.

Priest: For to You belong all glory, honor, and worship to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.

Theos Kyrios – Psalm 117(118)

People: Amen. God is the Lord and has appeared to us. Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!
God is the Lord and has appeared to us. Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.

All nations surround me; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
God is the Lord and has appeared to us. Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.

This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
God is the Lord and has appeared to us. Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.

Priest: Again in Peace let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Your grace.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: Remembering our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

People: To You, O Lord.

Priest: For Yours is the dominion, the kingdom, the power, and the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Priest: Let us honor and magnify in song the Theotokos the Mother of light!

People: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my savior.
More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption you gave birth to God the Word. We magnify you, the true Theotokos.

For he who is mighty has done to me great things; and holy is his name; and his mercy is on them who fear him from generation to generation.
More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption you gave birth to God the Word. We magnify you, the true Theotokos.

He has pulled down the mighty from their throwns and raised up those who were low; he has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.
More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption you gave birth to God the Word. We magnify you, the true Theotokos.

He has helped his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.
More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption you gave birth to God the Word. We magnify you, the true Theotokos.

Doxology

People: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will among all. We praise You, we bless You, we worship You, we glorify You, we give thanks to You for Your great glory. Lord, King, heavenly God, Father almighty; Lord, the Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit. Lord, God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us, You who take away the sins of the world. Receive our prayer, You Who sit at the right hand of the Father, and have mercy on us. For You only are holy, You only are the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Each day I will bless You and praise Your name forever. Lord, You have been our refuge from generation to generation. I have said: Lord, have mercy on me. Heal my soul for I have sinned against You. Lord, in You have I taken refuge. Teach me Your will, for You are my God. For in You is the source of life, and in Your light we shall see light. Extend Your mercy to those who know You. Grant, Lord, to keep us this day without sin. Blessed are You, Lord, God of our Fathers, and praised and glorified is Your name forever. Amen. Lord, let Your mercy come upon us, for we have trusted in You. Blessed are You, Lord, teach me Your commandments. Blessed are You, Holy One, enlighten me with Your commandments. Lord, Your love endures forever; do not turn away from the work of Your hands. To You belong praise, song, and glory, to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Epistle

Priest: Let us be attentive.
(The Reader chants the verses from the Psalms called the prokeimenon.)
Priest: Wisdom.
Reader: The reading is from ________
(the name of the book of the New Testament from which the Epistle reading is taken).
Priest: Let us be attentive.
(The Reader reads the Epistle reading for the current day.)
Priest: Peace be with you.
People: Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Gospel

Priest: Wisdom. Arise. Let us hear the holy Gospel. Peace be with you all.
People: And with Your spirit.
Priest: The reading is from the Holy Gospel according to (Name). Let us be attentive.
People: Glory to You, O Lord, glory to You.
(The priests reads the Gospel reading for the current day.)
People: Glory to You, O Lord, glory to You.

The Dismissal

Priest: Glory to You, O God, our hope, glory to You.
May Christ our true God, as a good, loving, and merciful God, have mercy on us and save us, through the intercessions of His most pure and holy Mother; the power of the precious and life-giving cross; the protection of the honorable, bodiless powers of heaven, the supplications of the honorable, glorious prophet and forerunner John the Baptist; the holy, glorious, and praiseworthy apostles; the holy, glorious, and triumphant martyrs; the holy and righteous ancestors Joachim and Anna; our holy and God-bearing Fathers; Saint (Saint of the Day) whose memory we commemorate today, and all the saints.

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.

People: Amen.

Evening Service

(An abbreviated Vespers Service for retreats & Youth Gatherings).

Priest: Blessed is our God, always, both now and forever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Prayer for the Acceptance of God’s Will

Lord, I do not know what to ask of You. You alone know my true needs. You love me more than I know how to love. Help me to see clearly my real needs which I do not see. I open my heart to You. Visit and help me, for Your Great Mercy’s sake. Examine and reveal to me my faults and sins. I put all my trust in You. I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will. Teach me how to pray. Pray in me. Amen.

The Evening Thanksgiving

People: O Joyful Light! Holy Glory of the immortal Father, the heavenly, holy, and blessed One! O Jesus Christ! Now that we have reached the setting of the sun and have seen the evening light, we sing to God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is fitting at all times to praise You with glad voices, Son of God, the Giver of life. Behold, the universe sings Your glory!

The Evening Prayer

Grant, Lord, to keep us this evening without sin. Blessed are You O Lord, God of our fathers, and praised and glorified is Your Name for ever. Amen. Lord, let Your mercy come upon us, O Lord, for we have trusted in You. Blessed are You O Lord, teach me Your commandments. Blessed are You O Master, make me to understand Your commandments. Blessed are You, O Holy One, enlighten me with Your commandments. Lord, Your love endures forever; Do not turn away from the work of Your hands. To You belong praise, song; and glory, to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

The Petitions

Priest: Let us complete our evening prayer to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: Help us, save us, have mercy upon us, and protect us, O God by Your grace.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: That the whole evening may be holy, peaceful, and sinless, let us ask the Lord.

People: Grant this, O Lord.

Priest: For an angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls and bodies, let us ask the Lord.

People: Grant this, O Lord.

Priest: For forgiveness and remission of our sins and transgressions, let us ask the Lord.

People: Grant this, O Lord.

Priest: For all that is good and beneficial to our souls, and for peace in the world, let us ask the Lord.

People: Grant this, O Lord.

Priest: For our Youth Program, all those who participate and help and for their families, that the Holy Spirit may protect and strengthen their faith, let us ask the Lord.

People: Grant this, O Lord.

Priest: For the completion of our life in peace and repentance, let us ask the Lord.

People: Grant this, O Lord.

Priest: For a Christian end to our lives, peaceful, without shame and suffering, and for a good account before the awesome judgement seat of Christ, let us ask the Lord.

People: Grant this, O Lord.

Priest: Remembering our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

People: To You, O Lord.

Priest: For You are a good and loving God, and to You we give glory, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Priest: Peace be with all.

People: And with Your spirit.

Priest: Let us bow our heads to the Lord.

People: To You, O Lord.

Priest: (In a low voice)

Lord our God Who bent the heavens and came down for the salvation of humankind, look upon Your servants and Your inheritance. Your servants have bowed their heads and bent their necks before You, the awesome and merciful judge. It is not from human beings that they expect help, but from You they hope for mercy and salvation. Protect them at all times, both during this evening and throughout the coming night from every enemy, from every assault of the powers of hell, from vain deliberations, and from evil thoughts.

Priest: Blessed and glorified is the power of Your Kingdom, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

The Prayer of St. Symeon

Priest: Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples; a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.

The Trisagion Prayers

People: Amen.

Holy God. Holy Mighty. Holy Immortal Have mercy on us.(3)

Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

All Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, forgive our sins. Master, pardon our transgressions. Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities, for the glory of Your name.

Lord, have mercy.(3)

Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Priest: For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

The Dismissal

Priest: Glory to You, O God, our hope, glory to You.
May Christ our true God, as a good, loving, and merciful God, have mercy on us and save us, through the intercessions of His most pure and holy Mother; the power of the precious and life-giving cross; the protection of the honorable, bodiless powers of heaven, the supplications of the honorable, glorious prophet and forerunner John the Baptist; the holy, glorious, and praiseworthy apostles; the holy, glorious, and triumphant martyrs; the holy and righteous ancestors Joachim and Anna; our holy and God-bearing Fathers; Saint (Saint of the Day) whose memory we commemorate today, and all the saints.

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.

People: Amen.

Acknowledgements

This Internet edition of the Orthodox Prayer Book was compiled by Peter Gregory, former pastor of the Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Although some prayers included on this page are original, credit and acknowledgement must be given to the following sources: Daily Prayers for Orthodox Christians (Holy Cross Orthodox Press); The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Holy Cross Orthodox Press); My Orthodox Prayer Book (Archdiocese Department of Religious Education); Mikron Efhologion (Holy Cross Orthodox Press); A Pocket Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians (The Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese); Prayers for Eastern Orthodox Christians During Hospital Stay (Rev. Nicholas G. Paleologos); Prayers for Orthodox Christians (Rev. Alexander Leondis).

www.transchurch.org

The following thirty-two part series on prayer was transcribed and translated from television episodes presented on Russian television in the spring of 1999 by Igumen (now Metropolitan) Hilarion (Alfeyev) with the blessing of His Holiness, the late Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.

I: Prayer as Encounter

II: Prayer as DialogueIII: When Should We Pray?IV: Short PrayersV: Prayer and LifeVI: Orthodox Prayer BooksVII: Prayer RulesVIII: The Danger of HabituationIX: The Disposition of the Body at PrayerX: Prayer Before IconsXI: Prayer For Our NeighborsXII: Prayer For the DepartedXIII: Prayer For Our EnemiesXIV: Family Prayer XV: Church PrayerXVI: Why Do We Need to Go to Church?XVII: On Compunction and TearsXVIII: The Battle with Extraneous ThoughtsXIX: The Jesus PrayerXX: What’s So Good About The Jesus Prayer?XXI: The Practice of the Jesus PrayerXXII: Books on the Jesus PrayerXXIII: “Our Father, Who Art in the Heavens”XXIV: “Hallowed Be Thy Name”XXV: “Thy Kingdom Come”XXVI: “Thy Will Be Done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”XXVII: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”XXVIII: “And Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors”XXIX: “And Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From the Evil One”XXX: Prayer to the Mother of GodXXXI: Prayer to the SaintsXXXII: Life is Impossible Without Prayer 

I: Prayer as Encounter

Prayer is an encounter with the Living God. Christianity gives man direct access to God, Who listens to man, helps him, and loves him. This is the fundamental difference between Christianity and, for example, Buddhism, in which during meditation the one praying deals with a certain impersonal super-being, in which he is immersed and in which he is dissolved, but he does not feel God as a living Person. In Christian prayer, man feels the presence of the Living God.

God become Man is revealed to us in Christianity. When we stand before an icon of Jesus Christ, we contemplate the Incarnate God. We know that it is impossible to represent, depict, or portray God on an icon or picture. But it is possible to depict God become Man, such as He revealed Himself to people. Through Jesus Christ as Man we uncover God for ourselves. This uncovering takes place in prayer, in conversion to Christ.

Through prayer we know that God participates in everything that takes place in our lives. Therefore, conversation with God should not take place in the background of our lives, but should be its main content. There are many barriers between man and God that can be overcome only with the help of prayer.

It is often asked: why do we need to pray, to ask God for something, if God already knows what we need? This is how I would reply. We do not pray in order to beg for something from God. Yes, in some cases we do ask Him for specific help in various everyday circumstances. But this should not be the main content of prayer.

God cannot only be an “intermediate agent” in our earthly affairs. The main content of prayer should always be standing before God, encounter with Him. We need to pray in order to be with God, to come into contact with God, to feel God’s presence.

However, an encounter with God does not always take place in prayer. After all, even when meeting with a person we are not always able to overcome the barriers that divide us and to descend into the depths; often our communication with people is confined to the surface level. Such it is in prayer, too. Sometimes we feel that between God and us is a kind of blank wall, that God does not hear us. But we should understand that God did not place this barrier there: we ourselves have erected it through our sins. In the words of one Western medieval theologian, God is always next to us, but we are often far from Him; God always hears us, but we do not hear Him; God is always within us, but we are on the outside; God is at home in us, but we are strangers to Him.

Let us remember this when we are preparing for prayer. Let us remember that every time we stand in prayer we are coming into contact with the Living God.

II: Prayer as Dialogue 

Prayer is a dialogue. It includes not only our own turning towards God, but also the response of God Himself. As in every dialogue, in prayer it is important not only to speak out and express oneself, but also to listen to the response. God’s response does not always come directly in the minutes of prayer; sometimes it happens somewhat later. It can happen, for example, that we ask God for immediate help, but it only comes after several hours or days. But we understand that it took place because we asked God for help in prayer.

Through prayer we can learn a great deal about God. When praying, it is very important to be prepared for what God reveals to us; but He can prove to be other than we had imagined Him. Often we make the mistake of approaching God with our own ideas about Him, and these ideas can obscure from us the real image of the Living God, which God Himself can reveal to us. Often people create in their own minds a kind of idol and then pray to this idol. This dead, artificially created idol becomes an obstacle or barrier between the Living God and us people. “Make yourself a false image of God and try praying to him. Make yourself an image of an unmerciful and cruel Judge, and try praying to Him with confidence and love,” remarked Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh. Thus, we should be ready for God to reveal Himself as different than we had imagined Him. Therefore, approaching prayer, one needs to abandon all images that our human imagination and fantasy produce.

God’s response can take place in different ways, but prayer is never unrequited. If we do not hear a response, it means that something is not right in us ourselves; it means that we have not yet sufficiently tuned ourselves to the right way for encountering God.

There is an instrument called a tuning fork, used for tuning pianos; this device gives the clear sound of an “A.” The strings of the piano must be strung in such a way that the sound they produce is in strict accordance with the sound of the tuning fork. As long as the “A” string is not sufficiently taut, no matter how many times you hit the keys, the tuning fork will remain silent. But the moment the string reaches the necessary degree of tension, the tuning fork – a lifeless piece of metal – will suddenly begin to sound. Having adjusted the one “A” string, the master can then configure this “A” in the other octaves (in a piano each key strikes several strings, creating a special surround sound). Then he can set the “B,” “C,” and so forth, one octave after another, until finally the entire instrument will be configured in accordance with the tuning fork.

So it must be with us in prayer. We should tune into God, adjusting our entire life – all the strings of our soul – to Him. When we adjust our life to God; when we learn to fulfill His commandments; when the Gospel becomes our moral and spiritual law; and when we learn to live in accordance with God’s commandments, then we begin to feel how the soul responds to the presence of God in prayer, just as a tuning fork responds to an perfectly stretched string.

III: When Should We Pray? 

When and how long should one pray? The Apostle Paul writes: Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). St. Gregory the Theologian writes: “One needs to remember God more often than one breathes.” Ideally, the Christian’s entire life should be imbued with prayer.

Many troubles, sorrows, and tribulations come about because people forget about God. There are criminals who are believers, but at the moment of committing their crimes they did not think about God. It is hard to imagine someone who would commit a murder or theft while thinking about the all-seeing God, from Whom no evil is hidden. And man commits all sin precisely at such times that he does not remember God.

The majority of people are not able to pray during the course of the day, for which reason one needs to find a time, even if a short one, when one can remember God.

In the morning you wake up with thoughts about what needs to get done that day. Before you begin work and getting immersed in the inevitable bustle, dedicate at least a few minutes to God. Stand before God and say: “Lord, Thou hast given me this day; help me to spend it without sin, without blemish; keep me from all evil and misfortune.” And invoke God’s blessing on the day that is beginning.

Throughout the course of the entire day, strive to remember God more frequently. If you do not feel well, turn to Him with prayer: “Lord, I am not well; help me.” If you feel well, say to God: “Lord, glory to Thee; I thank Thee for this joy.” If you are worried about someone, tell God: “Lord, I am worried for him; I am concerned about him; help him.” And so forth throughout the course of the day: whatever happens to you, put it into prayer.

When the day has come to an end and you are ready for bed, remember the past day, thank God for all good things that have taken place, and offer repentance for all those unworthy deeds and sins that you have committed during the day. Ask for God’s help and blessing for the coming night. If you learn to pray like this over the course of every day, you will soon notice how much sounder your life will become.

People often justify their reluctance to pray by the fact that they are too busy and are overloaded with things to do. Yes, many of live in sort of rhythm unlike that of people of antiquity. Sometimes we have to do a great number of things over the course of the day. But in life there are always certain pauses. For example, we might stand at the bus stop for three to five minutes; if we take the train, for twenty or thirty minutes. We dial a number and get a busy signal – another few minutes. Let us at least use these pauses for prayer; let it at least not be wasted time.

IV: Short Prayers 

People often ask: how should we pray, in what words, and in what language? Some even say: “I do not pray because I do not know how; I do not know any prayers.” One does not need any specialized skill for prayer. One can simply talk with God. At the divine services of the Orthodox Church, we use a special language: Church Slavonic. But in private prayer, when we are alone with God, there is no need for any special languages. We can pray to God in the language we use when speaking with people, when thinking.

Prayer should be very simple. St. Isaac the Syrian said: “The whole fabric of your prayer should be succinct. One word saved the publican, and one word made the thief on the cross heir to the Heavenly Kingdom.”

Let us recall the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner (Luke 18:10-13). And this short prayer saved him. Let us also remember the thief who was crucified with Jesus and who said to Him: Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom (Luke 23:42). This alone was enough for him to enter Paradise.

Prayer can be extremely brief. If you are just starting out on your path of prayer, begin with very short prayers, such as can allow you to focus. God does not need words; He needs men’s hearts. Words are secondary; of paramount importance are the feeling and disposition with which we approach God. To approach God without a feeling of reverence or with distraction – when during prayer our mind wanders to the side – is much more dangerous than saying the wrong words in prayer. Distracted prayer has neither meaning nor value. A simple law is at work: if the words of prayer do not reach our heart, they will not reach God. As it is sometimes put, such prayer does not reach above the ceiling of the room in which we are praying, and it should reach the heavens. Therefore it is very important that each word of prayer should be felt deeply by us. If we are incapable of focusing on the long prayers contained in the prayer books of the Orthodox Church, try your hand at shorter prayers: “Lord, have mercy,” “Lord, save,” Lord, help me,” “God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”

One ascetic struggler said that if we could, with the full force of our feelings – with all our heart and soul – just say the prayer “Lord, have mercy,” then that would be enough for salvation. But the problem is that, as a rule, we cannot say this with all our heart; we cannot say this with all our whole life. Therefore, in order to be heard by God, we tend to use many words.

Let us remember that God long for our hearts, not for our words. If we will turn to Him with our whole hearts, then we will certainly get a response.

V: Prayer and Life 

Prayer involves not only joy and attainments, which take place because of it, but also painstaking daily labor. Sometimes prayer brings enormous joy, refreshing man and giving him new strength and opportunities. But it very often happens that one is not disposed towards prayer, that one does not want to pray. Thus, prayer should not depend upon our mood. Prayer is labor. St. Silouan the Athonite said: “To pray is to shed blood.” As in every labor, this requires great effort, sometimes enormous effort, in order to force oneself to pray even when one does not want to. And such an effort will be repaid one hundredfold.

But why do we sometimes not want to pray? I think that the main reason here consists of the fact that our life does not correspond to prayer, is not configured for it. In childhood, when I was in music school, I had an excellent violin teacher: his lessons were very interesting, but sometimes very difficult – but it depended not on his mood, but rather on how well or poorly I had prepared for the lesson. If I had practiced a great deal, learned a given piece and come to class fully prepared, then the lesson went by at one go, and both the teacher and I were pleased. But if I put it off all week and came unprepared, then the teacher would get upset and it was sickening to me that the lesson did not go as I had hoped.

It is exactly the same with prayer. If our life is not a preparation for prayer, then it can be very difficult for us to pray. Prayer is the gauge of our spiritual life, a kind of litmus test. We need to construct our life in such a way that it conforms to prayer. When reciting the prayer “Our Father,” we say: “Lord, Thy will be done,” which means that we should always be ready to fulfill God’s will, even if this will contradicts our human will. When we say to God: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” we thereby commit ourselves to pardoning people and forgiving their debts, because if we do not forgive our debtors then, by the logic of this prayer, God will not forgive us our debts.

Thus, the one must correspond to the other: life to prayer, and prayer to life. Without this correspondence we will not succeed either in life or in prayer.

Let us not hesitate if we find it difficult to pray. This means that God is presenting us with new challenges, which we should resolve both in prayer and in life. If we learn to live in accordance with the Gospel, then we will learn to pray in accordance with the Gospel. Then our life will become complete, spiritual, and truly Christian.

VI: Orthodox Prayer Books 

One can pray in different ways, in one’s own words for example. Such prayer should constantly accompany one. Morning and evening, day and night, one can turn to God with simple words coming from the depths of one’s heart.

But there are also prayers that were compiled by the saints in antiquity, which need to be read in order to learn how to pray. These prayers are contained in the “Orthodox Prayer Book.” There you will find prayers for the morning and evening, for repentance and thanksgiving, along with various canons, akathists, and much else. When you purchase an “Orthodox Prayer Book,” do not be alarmed that there are so many prayers. You do not have to read all of them.

If the morning prayers are read quickly, this takes about twenty minutes. But if one reads them thoughtfully and carefully, responding in one’s heart to each word, then reading them can take a whole hour. Therefore, if you do not have time, do not try to read all the morning prayers; it is better to read one or two, but in such a way that every word reaches your heart.

Before the section with the “Morning Prayers,” it says: “Having risen from sleep, before any other action, stand reverently, considering thyself to be in the presence of the All-seeing God, and, having made the sign of the Cross, say: ‘In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.’ Then pause a moment, until all thy senses are calmed and thy thoughts forsake all things earthly.” This pause, this “moment of silence,” before beginning to pray is very important. Prayer should grow out of the quietness of our hearts. People who daily “read through” the morning and evening prayers constantly have the temptations of reading the “rule” as quickly as possible in order to get on with the business of the day. Often, with such reading, the most important thing – the content of the prayers – is eluded.

In the Prayer Book there are many petitions addressed to God that are repeated many times. For example, you can come across the recommendation to repeat “Lord, have mercy” twelve or forty times. Some people see this as some kind of formality and read this prayer as quickly as possible. By the way, in Greek “Lord, have mercy” is “Kyrie, eleison.” In Russian there is the verb kurolesit’ , which came from the fact that readers on the choir often quickly or repeatedly read “Kyrie, eleison” – that is, they were not praying, but were playing. Thus, in prayer one does not need to play tricks . No matter how many times this prayer is read, it should be spoken with care, reverence, and love, with full delivery.

One does not need to try to read through all the prayers. It is better to dedicate twenty minutes to the single prayer “Our Father,” repeating it several times, pondering every word. It is not easy for someone who is not accustomed to prayer immediately to read through a large number of prayers – and this is not something to which one should aspire. It is important to become imbued with the spirit that is breathed by the prayers of the Church Fathers. This is the main benefit to be derived from the prayers contained in the “Orthodox Prayer Book.”

VII: Prayer Rules 

What is a prayer rule? These are prayers that one reads regularly, daily. Everyone has a different prayer rule. For one person, the morning or evening prayers take up several hours, while for another they take a few minutes. Everything depends on one’s spiritual disposition, on the degree of one’s rootedness in prayer, and on how much time one has.

It is very important that one keep a prayer rule, even a very short one, so that one would be regular and constant in prayer. But the rule should not turn into a formality. The experience of many believers shows that, by constantly reading through the same prayers, their words can become colorless: they loose their freshness and one who has gotten used to them can no longer focus on them. This danger needs to be avoided at all costs.

I remember that when I received the monastic tonsure (I was then twenty years old), I turned for advice to an experienced spiritual father, asking him what sort of prayer rule I should have. He said: “You should daily read through the morning and evening prayers, three canons, and one akathist. Whatever happens, even if you are very tired, you are obliged to read them. And even if you read through them quickly and inattentively, that is not important. The main thing is that the rule be read through.” I tried. It did not take. The daily reading of the same prayers led to these texts quickly becoming boring. Besides, I spent many hours daily in church at services that spiritual nourished, fed, and inspired me. But reading through these three canons and an akathist turned into some unnecessary kind of “appendage.” I began to seek out different advice, more suitable to me. And I found it in the works of St. Theophan the Recluse, that remarkable nineteenth-century ascetic struggler. He advised calculating one’s prayer rule not from the number of prayers, but from the time that we are prepared to dedicate to God. For example, we can take as a rule to pray in the morning and evening for half an hour, but these half hours should be wholly given over to God. And it is less important whether we read all the prayers or only one during these minutes, or if we dedicate an evening entirely to reading the Psalter, the Gospel, or to praying in our own words. The most important thing is to be focused on God, that our attention not run away, and that every word reach our heart. This advice worked for me. However, I do not exclude that for others the advice I obtained from my spiritual father might be more appropriate. Here a great deal depends on one’s personality.

It seems to me that, for someone living in the world, not only fifteen but even five minutes of morning and evening prayer can be enough to be a true Christian – as long, of course, as they are said with attention and feeling. It is important only that one’s thoughts always correspond to the words, that one’s heart respond to the words of the prayers, and that one’s whole life correspond to prayer.

Following the advice of St. Theophan the Recluse, try to set aside some time for prayer in the course of the day and for the fulfillment of a daily prayer rule. And you will see that this will quickly bear fruit.

VIII: The Danger of Habituation 

Every believer faces the danger of becoming habituated to the words of prayer and of becoming distracted during prayer. For this not to happen, one needs to do constant battle with oneself or, as the Holy Fathers put it, to “guard one’s mind” and learn “to enclose one’s mind in the words of prayer.”

How does one achieve this? First of all, one should not allow oneself to pronounce words when one’s mind and heart do not respond to them. If you begin to read a prayer, but in the middle your attention strays, go back to the place where your attention strayed and repeat the prayer. If necessary, repeat it three, five, or ten times – but get to the point that your whole being responds to it.

Once in church a lady appealed to me: “Batiushka, I have read prayers for many years: both the morning and the evening prayers, but the more I read them, the less I like them, and the less I feel myself believing in God. I am so tired of the words of these prayers that I no longer respond to them.”

I said to her: “Do not read the morning or evening prayers.”

She was astonished: “What do you mean?”

I repeated: “Put them away; do not read them. If your heart does not respond to them, you need to find another means of prayer. How much time do your morning prayers take?”

“Twenty minutes.”

“Are you ready to dedicate twenty minutes every morning to God?”

“I’m ready.”

“Then take one morning prayer – your choice – and read it over the course of twenty minutes. Read one phrase, be silent, and think about what it means. Then read another phrase, be silent, and think about its content. Repeat it again, thinking about whether it corresponds to your life, whether you are ready to live in such a way that this prayer would become real in your life. You read: ‘Lord, deprive me not of Thy heavenly goods.’ What does that mean? Or: ‘Lord, deliver me from eternal torments.’ What is the danger of these eternal torments? Do we actually fear them? Do we really hope to be delivered from them?” The woman began to pray in this way, and soon her prayer began to revive.

One needs to learn to pray. One has to work on oneself; one cannot allow oneself to stand before the icons and utter empty words.

The quality of prayer also manifests itself by what precedes it and by what follows it. It is impossible to focus on prayer when one is angry or, for example, if before beginning to pray one has argued with somebody or shouted at someone. This means that in the time preceding prayer we should prepare ourselves for it inwardly, freeing ourselves from whatever interferes with our prayer, and tuning ourselves in to a prayerful disposition. Then it will be easier for us to pray. And, of course, after prayer one should not immediately give oneself over to bustle. Having finished praying, give yourself some time to hear God’s response, so that something would sound in you in response to God’s presence.

Prayer is only valuable when we feel that, thanks to it, something changes in us, that we begin to live differently. Prayer can bear fruit, and these fruits should be felt.

IX: The Disposition of the Body at Prayer 

In the prayer practice of the Early Church, various poses, gestures, and bodily positions were used. People prayed standing, or kneeling in the so-called position of the Prophet Elias – that is, standing on one’s knees with one’s head bowed to the ground – or lying on the floor with outstretched hands, or standing with upraised hands. Prostrations were employed in prayer: both full prostrations and bows from the waist, as well as the sign of the cross. Of all the various traditional positions of the body in prayer, only a few have remained in contemporary practice. These are above all prayer standing and prayer kneeling, accompanied by the sign of the cross and bows.

Why is it important that the body participate in prayer? Why cannot one simply pray in spirit while lying in bed or sitting on an armchair? In principle, one can pray both lying down and sitting: in special circumstances, such as in illness or when travelling, such is done. But under normal circumstances it is necessary while praying to make use of the dispositions of body that have been preserved in the tradition of the Orthodox Church. The fact is that body and spirit are inextricably linked in man, and the spirit cannot act completely autonomously from the body. It was no accident that the ancient Fathers said: “If the body does not labor in prayer, then prayer will remain fruitless.”

Go into an Orthodox Church during Great Lent and you will see how from time to time all the parishioners fall on their knees, then get up, then again fall and get up. And such goes on for the duration of the service. You will feel that there is a special intensity to this service, that people are not simply praying, but are laboring in prayer, bearing the heroic feat of prayer. Then go into a Protestant church. During the course of the entire service, the worshippers are sitting: prayers are read and spiritual songs are sung, but people remain sitting, neither crossing themselves nor bowing, while at the end of the service they all get up and leave. Compare these two means of prayer in church – Orthodox and Protestant – in terms of intensity of prayer. People are praying to one and the same God, but they are praying differently. And this difference is largely determined by the physical dispositions of those praying.

Prostrations help prayer a great deal. Those of you who are able in your morning or evening prayer rule do to at least a few bows and prostrations will undoubtedly feel how helpful this is in spiritual terms. The body becomes more collected, and when the body is collected, composure of mind and attention comes much more natural.

During prayer we should from time to time make the sign of the cross, especially when we say “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” as well as when we pronounce the name of the Savior. This is necessary because the cross is the weapon of our salvation. When we place the sign of the cross on ourselves, God’s power becomes tangibly present in us.

X: Prayer Before Icons 

In prayer the outward should not replace the inward. The outward should contribute to the inward, but it can also hinder it. The traditional disposition of the body at prayer undoubtedly contributes to a prayerful state, but can in no way serve as a substitute for the main content of prayer.

One should not forget that certain dispositions of the body are not accessible to everyone. For example, many older people are simply incapable of making full prostrations. There are many people who cannot stand for long. I have heard from older people: “I do not go to services at church because I cannot stand,” or “I do not pray to God, because my legs hurt.” God does not need our legs, but our hearts. If you cannot pray standing up, then pray sitting down; if you cannot pray sitting down, then pray laying down. As one ascetic struggler put it: “better to sit thinking about God, than to stand thinking about your legs.”

Auxiliary means are important, but they should not take the place of content. One of the most important auxiliary means for prayer is the icon. Orthodox Christians, as a rule, pray before icons of the Savior, the Mother of God, saints, and before depictions of the Holy Cross. But Protestants pray without icons. One can see here the difference between Protestant and Orthodox prayer. In the Orthodox tradition, prayer is more concrete. Contemplating the icon of Christ, we look as if through a window opening up another world to us; behind this icon stands Him to Whom we are praying.

But it is very important that the icon not replace the object of prayer, so that we would not address ourselves in prayer to the icon or try to imagine the person depicted on the icon. The icon is only a reminder, only a kind of symbol of the reality that is behind it. As the Church Fathers say, “the honor rendered to the image returns to the prototype.” When we approach an icon of the Savior or the Mother of God and venerate it – that is, kiss it – we are thereby expressing our love for the Savior or the Mother of God.

Icons should not be turned into idols. Nor should there be the illusion that God is as He is depicted on icons. There exists, for example, an icon of the Holy Trinity called the “New Testament Trinity”: it is uncanonical – that is, it does not correspond to the rules of the Church – but one can see it in certain churches. On this icon God the Father is depicted as a grey-haired old man, Jesus Christ as a young man, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. By no means should we be tempted to imagine that the Holy Trinity looks like this. The Holy Trinity is God, Who cannot be represented by the human imagination. And, turning to God the Holy Trinity in prayer, we should renounce every kind of fantasy. Our imagination should be free from images; the mind should be crystal clear; and the heart should be ready to accommodate the Living God.

My car once fell off a precipice, rolling over several times. Nothing was left of it, but the driver and I were safe and sound. This took place early in the morning, around five. When I returned to the church in which I served that same evening, I encountered a few parishioners who had woken up at half past four in the morning, sensing danger, and who had begun to pray for me.

Their first question was: “Batiushka, what happened to you?” I think that it was through their prayers that both the driver and I were saved from disaster.

We should pray for our neighbors not because God does not know how to save them, but because He wants us to participate in one another’s salvation. Of course, He Himself knows what everyone needs – both what we need, and what our neighbors need. When we pray for our neighbors, this does not at all mean that we want to be more merciful than God. But it does mean that we want to participate in their salvation. In prayer we should neither forget about the people whom life has brought to us, nor that they pray for us. Each of us, when we go to sleep at night, can say to God: “Lord, through the prayer of all those who love me, save me!”

Let us remember the living connection between our neighbors and us, and let us always remember one another in prayer.

XI: Prayer For Our Neighbors 

We should pray not only for ourselves, but also for our neighbors. Every morning and every evening, as well as when we are in church, we should remember our relatives, family, friends, enemies, and offer prayer to God for them all. This is very important, because people are bound together by indissoluble bonds and often the prayer of one person for another saves the other from great danger.

In the Life of St. Gregory the Theologian there is the following incident. When he was still a young man and unbaptized, he crossed the Mediterranean by ship. A heavy storm suddenly began, which lasted for many days, and no one had any hope of rescue; the ship was almost flooded. Gregory prayed to God and, during his prayer, saw his mother, who was then on the shore but who, as it later turned out, felt the danger and fervently prayed for her son. The ship, contrary to all expectations, reached the shore safely. Gregory always remembered that his deliverance came about as a result of his mother’s prayers.

Someone might say: “Well, that’s just another story from the lives of the ancient saints. Why don’t similar things happen today?” I can assure you that they do happen today. I know many people who were saved from death or great danger by the prayers of their loved ones. And in my own life there have been many cases when I was saved from danger by the prayers of my mother or other people, such as my parishioners.

I was once in a car accident and one might say that I stayed alive miraculously, because the car fell off a precipice and rolled over several times. Nothing remained of the car, but the driver and I were left safe and sound. This took place early in the morning, around five. When I returned to the church in which I was serving that same evening, I found several parishioners who had woken up at half past four in the morning and, sensing danger, had begun to pray for me. Their first question was: “Batuishka, what happened to you?” I think that it was by their prayer that the driver and I were saved from disaster.

We should pray for our neighbors not because God does not know how to save them, but because He wants us to participate in one another’s salvation. Of course, He Himself knows what everyone needs: both what we need, and what our neighbors need. When we pray for our neighbors, it does not at all mean that we want to be more merciful than God. What it does mean is that we want to participate in their salvation. And in prayer we should not forget about the people with whom life has brought us together, and that they also pray for us. Each of us, laying down to sleep, should say to God: “Lord, through the prayers of all those who love me, save me!”

Let us remember the living connection between our neighbors and us, and let us always remember one another in prayer.

XII: Prayer For the Departed 

We should not only pray for our neighbors who are alive, but also for those who have departed into the other world.

Prayer for the departed is necessary first of all because, when someone who is close to us departs, we have a natural feeling of loss, from which we suffer deeply. But that person continues to live: only he lives in another dimension, because he has left for the other world. So that our connection with him who has departed might not be broken, we should pray for him. Then we will feel his presence, feel that he has not left us, and that our living connection with him has been preserved.

But the other person, of course, also needs prayer for the departed, because when someone dies they pass into another world, where they meet God to answer for everything they did in their earthly life, good and bad. It is very important that such a person be accompanied on his way by the prayers of his loved ones, of those who have remained here on earth, who keep his memory. We, who remain on earth, can ask God that He lighten this person’s lot. And the Church believes that the departed’s posthumous lot is lightened by the prayers of those who pray for him here on earth.

The hero of Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov, the Elder Zosima (whose prototype was St. Tikhon of Zadonsk) says this about prayer for the departed: “Remember also: every day and whenever you can, repeat within yourself: ‘Lord, have mercy upon all who come before you today.’ For every hour and every moment thousands of people leave their life on this earth, and their souls come before the Lord – and so many of them part with the earth in isolation, unknown to anyone, in sadness and sorrow that no one will mourn for them, or even know whether they had lived or not. And so, perhaps from the other end of the earth, your prayer for his repose will rise to the Lord, though you did not known him at all, nor he you. How moving it is for his soul, coming in fear before the Lord, to feel at that moment that someone is praying for him, too, that there is still a human being on earth who loves him. And God, too, will look upon you both with more mercy, for if even you so pitied him, how much more will he who is infinitely more merciful and loving than you are. And he will forgive him for your sake.”

XIII: Prayer For Our Enemies 

The necessity of praying for our enemies stems from the very essence of the moral teaching of Jesus Christ.

In the pre-Christian era there was a rule: Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy (Matthew 5:43). The majority of people continue to live in accordance with this rule. It is natural for us to love our neighbors, those who do us good, and to treat with hostility and even hatred those who pose evil. But Christ says that our attitude should be completely different: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).

Christ Himself, during His earthly life, repeatedly set an example both of love for enemies and of prayer for them. When the soldiers nailed the Lord to the Cross, He experienced frightful torments and incredible pain, but He prayed: Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). At that moment He thought not about Himself, not about the fact that these soldiers were causing Him pain, but rather about their salvation; for, by committing evil, they were first of all harming themselves.

We should remember that people who do us evil or treat us with hostility are not bad in themselves. What is bad is the sin with which they are infected. One needs to hate sin, but not its bearer: man. As St. John Chrysostom put it: “when you see that someone is doing something evil, hate not him, but the devil, who is behind him.”

One needs to learn to separate the person from the sin he commits. Priests very often observe during Confession that sin is really separate from the person who repents thereof. We should be able to turn away from the sinful image of man and remember that everyone, including our enemies and those that hate us, are created according to God’s image; and it is this image of God, these rudiments of good that are in everyone, that we should scrutinize.

Why is it necessary to pray for enemies? It is necessary not only for them, but for us as well. We should find in ourselves the strength to be reconciled with people. Archimandrite Sophrony, in his book about St. Silouan the Athonite, says: “Those that hate and reject their brother are flawed in their being; they cannot find the way to God, Who loves all.” This holds true. When hatred for man settles in our heart, we are not able to approach God. As long as we hold on to this feeling, the path to God is barred to us. This is why it is necessary to pray for our enemies.

Every time we approach the Living God, we should be at absolute peace with everyone whom we perceive as our enemies. Let us remember what the Lord said: Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift (Matthew 5:23-24). And also other words of the Lord: Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him (Matthew 5:25). “In the way with him” means “in this earthly life.” For if we do not manage to be reconciled here with those that hate and offend us, with our enemies, then we will be unreconciled in the future life. And to make up there for what is missing here will no longer be possible.

XIV: Family Prayer

Until now we have spoken primarily about personal, individual prayer. Now I would like to say a few words about prayer in the family circle.

The majority of our contemporaries live in such a way that family members gather fairly rarely, at best twice a day: in the morning for breakfast and in the evening for dinner. During the day, parents are at work, children at school, and only preschoolers and pensioners remain at home. It is very important that, in the daily routine, there be some moments when everyone can gather together for prayer. If a family gathers for dinner, then why not pray for a few minutes together beforehand? One can also read prayers and a selection from the Gospel afterwards.

Common prayer strengthens the family, because family life can only be truly full and happy when its members are joined not only by family ties, but also by spiritual kinship and a common understanding and outlook. Common prayer, moreover, has beneficial effects on every member of the family, and is particularly helpful for children.

In Soviet times it was forbidden to raise children in a religious spirit. This was motivated by the fact that children were to grow up first, and only later to make an independent choice about whether to go the religious way. There was a deep lie within this argument, because before one can have the opportunity to choose, one must have learned something. And the best age for learning is, of course, childhood. It is very difficult for someone who has learned to live without prayer from childhood to learn to pray. Someone who has been raised from childhood in a prayerful, blessed spirit, who from his earliest years knows about the existence of God and how one can always turn to God, even if he later departs from the Church, will still preserve somewhere in the deep recesses of his soul the skills of prayer and the religious charge obtained in childhood. It often happens that people who have departed from the Church return to God at some stage in their life because in childhood they had become accustomed to prayer.

There is another point. Today in many families there are relatives of the older generation, grandmothers and grandfathers, who were raised in a non-religious environment. Even twenty or thirty years ago one could say that the Church was a place for “grandmas.” Now it is grandmothers who represent the very most irreligious generation, having been brought up in the thirties and forties, in the era of “militant atheism.” It is very important that older people find their way to church. It is not too late for anyone to turn to God, but those young people who already know this path should tactfully, gradually, but consistently engage their older relatives in the orbit of the spiritual life. Through daily family prayer one can do this particularly well.

XV: Church Prayer 

As the renowned twentieth-century theologian Archpriest Georges Florovsky put it, a Christian never prays in solitude: even if he turns to God in his room, closing his door behind him, he still prays as a member of the church community. We are not isolated individuals; we are members of the Church, members of a single body. And we are saved not in isolation, but along with others, with our brothers and sisters. Therefore it is very important that everyone be experienced not only in individual prayer, but also in church prayer, along with other people.

Church prayer has a special significance and meaning. Many of us know by experience how difficult it can be to immerse ourselves into the lines of prayer when alone. But when we come to church, we are immersed in the common prayer of many people, and this prayer takes one into certain depths, and our prayer merges with that of others.

Human life is akin to swimming through a sea or ocean. There are, of course, brave souls who, overcoming storms and tempests, cross the sea alone on a yacht. But, as a rule, people who cross the ocean come together on a ship moving from one bank to another. The Church is this ship in which Christians are moving together along to the path to salvation. And common prayer is one of the most powerful means for advancing on this path.

Much in church, and above all the divine services, encourages prayer. The texts of the divine services used by the Orthodox Church are unusually rich in content; great wisdom is hidden in them. But there is an obstacle faced by many who come to the Church : Church Slavonic. There is much debate today about whether to keep the Slavonic in the divine services or to move to Russian. It seems to me that if our divine services were wholly translated into Russian, that a great deal would be lost. Church Slavonic possesses great power, and experience shows that it is not so difficult, that it is not so very different from Russian. One simply needs to expend some effort, such as one would to learn a language or a science, such as mathematics or physics.

Thus, to learn to pray in church, one needs to make some effort to go to church more often, perhaps, and to buy the basic divine service books and, in one’s free time, to study them. Then all the riches of the liturgical language and of the texts of the divine services will unfold before you, and you will see that the divine services are a whole school that teaches you not only prayer, but also the spiritual life.

XVI: Why Do We Need to Go to Church? 

Many people who rarely attend church have a kind of consumer’s attitude towards church. They come to church, for instance, before a long trip – to light a candle just for the sake of it, so that nothing would happen on the road. They come for two or three minutes, hurriedly cross themselves and, having lit a candle, go on their way. Some, entering a church, say: “I want to pay money so that Batiushka would pray for such-and-such” – and pay money and leave. The priest needs to pray, but these people themselves do not participate in the prayer.

This is a wrong attitude. The Church is not a machine for buying “sneakers”: drop your coin and candy falls out. The Church is a place to go to live and study. If you are experiencing certain difficulties or if one of your neighbors has fallen ill, do not limit yourself to going and putting up a candle. Come to church for the divine service, immerse yourself in the elements of prayer, and lift up your prayer for your need along with the priest and the community.

It is important that attendance at church be regular. It is good to attend church every Sunday. The Sunday Divine Liturgy, as well as the Liturgy on great feasts, is the time when we can, by giving up two hours of our earthly affairs, plunge ourselves into the elements of prayer. It is good to come to church with one’s entire family, in order to receive Confession and Communion.

If one learns to live from Sunday to Sunday, in the rhythm of the church services, in the rhythm of the Divine Liturgy, then one’s whole life will change dramatically. Above all, it will become disciplined. The believer knows that next Sunday he will have to give an answer to God, and he lives differently: he does not allow himself many sins that he would otherwise allow himself if he did not go to church. Moreover, the Divine Liturgy itself is an opportunity to receive Holy Communion, that is, to unite with God not only spiritually, but also physically. Finally, the Divine Liturgy is a comprehensive service at which the entire church community and each of its members can pray for everyone that troubles or worries him or her. The faithful during the Liturgy can pray for themselves, and for their neighbors, and for their future, bringing repentance for their sins and asking God’s blessing for their further ministry. It is very important to learn to participate fully in the Liturgy. In Church there are also other services, for example, the All-Night Vigil – a preparatory service for Communion. One can order molebens for the health of one person or another. But no so-called “private” services – that is, services ordered for someone’s specific needs – can take the place of the Divine Liturgy, because the Liturgy is the center of church prayer, and it should become the center of the spiritual life of every Christian and every Christian family.

XVII: On Compunction and Tears 

I would like to say a few words about the spiritual and emotional condition that people experience in prayer. Let us recall the well-known verses of Lermontov:

Prayer

In a trying minute of life

If sadness o’erfills the heart,

One miraculous invocation

By rote, without cease I recite.

There is a beneficent will

In the music of living words,

And there breathes in them

An unknown, sacred delight.

And the soul will release its burden,

Doubt is far away

And it’s easy to trust, and to cry,

And I feel so light, so light…

In these beautiful, simple words of the great poet is described what happens to many people during prayer. One recites the words of prayer, perhaps familiar to one from childhood, and suddenly one feels a kind of enlightenment, lightening, and tears. In church language this condition is called compunction. It is a condition that is sometimes given one during prayer, when one feels the presence of God more than usual. It is a spiritual state, when the grace of God touches the heart directly.

Recall the passage from Ivan Bunin’s autobiographical book, The Life of Arsenyev, in which Bunin describes his teenage years and how, while still a schoolboy, he attended divine services in the parish church of the Lord’s Elevation. He describes the beginning of the All-Night Vigil, in the shadows of the church, where there are very few people:

“How it all moves me! I am still a boy, an adolescent, but then, I was born endowed with the sense of all this, and during the past years I have so many times passed through that expectation, that tense silence preceding the service, so many times heard those exclamations and the ‘amen’ that unfailingly follows them and drowns them out, divining beforehand every word of the service, now gives a double response to everything, intensified by its expectation. ‘Glory to the Holy and Consubstantial…’ I hear the pleasant familiar voice coming faintly from the altar, and for the rest of the service I stand as if bewitched. ‘O come, let us worship God our King! O Come let us worship…’ ‘Bless the Lord, o my soul,’ I hear, while the priest, preceded by the deacon with a taper, quietly walks about the church, silently filling it with whiffs of the fragrance of incense, and bowing to the icons; and tears dim my eyes, for already I know with certainty that there is, and can be, nothing more beautiful or loftier on earth than all this. And on and on flows the holy mystery. The Tsar’s Gate is closed and opened alternately, symbolizing now our ejection from the paradise lost by us, now the new contemplation thereof; wonderful light-prayers are recited, giving vent to our sorrowful awareness of our earthly weakness, our helplessness, and our eagerness to be led along the path of God.” And Bunin writes that he was able to visit many Western churches where there were organs, that he went into Gothic cathedrals, but he “never wept in those cathedrals as I did in the tiny church of the Elevation of the Cross on those dark lonely evenings.”

It’s not just great poets and writers that can describe the grace-filled effects that visiting a church is necessarily bound up with. Everyone can experience it. It is very important that our soul be open to such feelings, so that, coming into church, we be ready to receive the grace of God to the extent to which it is given to us. If a grace-filled state does not come to us and we are not overcome by compunction, we should not worry. This means that our soul is not ripe for compunction. But minutes of such enlightenment are a sign that our prayer is not barren. They testify to the fact that God responds to our prayers and that the grace of God touches our hearts.

XVIII: The Battle with Extraneous Thoughts 

One of the main obstacles to attentive prayer is the appearance of extraneous thoughts. St. John of Kronstadt, the great ascetic of the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, describes in his diaries how, during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, at the most crucial and sacred moments, before his mind’s eye would appear an apple pie or some other reward that he might be given. And with bitter regret he suggests how such extraneous images and thoughts can destroy a prayerful state. If such happened with the saints, then there is nothing surprising if it happens to us, too. To protect ourselves from extraneous thoughts and images, we have to learn, as did the ancient Fathers of the Church, “to guard our minds.”

In the ascetic writers of the Ancient Church there was a detailed development of how outside thoughts gradually penetrate a person. The first stage of this process is called an “article,” that is, the sudden appearance of a thought. This thought is still completely alien to one, but appears somewhere on the horizon; its penetration inside us begins when we begin to pay attention to it, enter into conversation with it, examine and analyze it. Then begins what the Church Fathers call “combination,” when man’s mind as it were merges with the thought. Finally, the thought turns into a passion and embraces the whole person, and then both prayer and the spiritual life are forgotten.

For this not to happen, it is very important to cut off extraneous thoughts at their first appearance not allowing them to penetrate deeply into the soul, heart, and mind. Learning to do this requires a lot of work on oneself. One cannot but be distracted at prayer, if one does not learn to fight with extraneous thoughts.

One of the diseases of modern man is that he is unable to control the work of his own brain. His brain is autonomous, and thoughts come and go spontaneously. Modern man as a rule does not follow what is going on in his mind. But to learn true prayer, one has to follow one’s thoughts and to expel ruthlessly those that do no correspond to a prayerful disposition. Short prayers help in overcoming distractions and extraneous thoughts: “Lord, have mercy,” “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” and others, which do not require a special focus on the words, but incline one to the birth of feelings and the movement of the heart. With the help of such prayers, one can learn to pray attentively and to focus on prayer.

XIX: The Jesus Prayer 

The Apostle Paul says: Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). People often ask: How can we pray without ceasing, if we are working, reading, speaking, eating, sleeping, etc.? That is, if we are doing things that would seem to be incompatible with prayer? The answer to this question in the Orthodox tradition is the Jesus Prayer. The faithful who practice the Jesus Prayer attain to constant prayer, that is, to a ceaseless standing before God. How is this done?

The Jesus Prayer is: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” There is also a shorter form: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” But one can also reduce the prayer to three words: “Lord, have mercy.” One who practices the Jesus Prayer repeats it not only during the divine services or when praying at home, but when travelling, eating, and going to sleep. Even if one is talking without someone or listening to someone then, without losing the intensity of his perception, he can nevertheless continue to repeat this prayer in the depths of his heart.

The meaning of the Jesus Prayer does not of course consist in its mechanical repetition, but in always feeling the living presence of Christ. This presence is felt by us first us all because, by pronouncing the Jesus Prayer, we pronounce the name of the Savior.

The name is a symbol of its bearer; in the name is present, as it were, the person to whom it belongs. When a young man falls in love with a young woman, he ceaselessly repeats her name, because she is, as it were, present in her name. And inasmuch as love fills his whole being, he feels the need to repeat this name over and over again. In just the same way, a Christian who loves the Lord repeats the name of Jesus Christ, because his whole heart and being are drawn to Christ.

It is very important when performing the Jesus Prayer not to try to imagine Christ, depicting Him like someone in some life situation or, for example, hanging on the Cross. The Jesus Prayer should not be paired with images that might arise in our imagination, because then there is a substitution of real imagination. The Jesus Prayer should be accompanied only by an inner sense of Christ’s presence and a feeling of standing before the Living God. No external images are appropriate here.

XX: What’s So Good About The Jesus Prayer?

The Jesus Prayer has several special properties. First of all, it contains the presence of the name of God in it.

We often think of the name of God as if by habit, unthinkingly. We say: “Lord, how tired I am” or “God is with him, let him come another time” – completely not thinking about the force that the name of God possesses. Meanwhile, already in the Old Testament it was commanded: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain (Exodus 20:7). The ancient Jews related to the name of God with the utmost reverence. In the era following the liberation from the Babylonian captivity it was generally forbidden to pronounce the name of God. This right was reserved to the high priest alone, one a year, when he entered the Holy of Holies, the main sanctuary of the temple. When we turn with the Jesus Prayer to Christ, our pronunciation of the name of Christ and the confession of Him as the Son of God has a completely different significance. This name should be pronounced with the greatest of reverence.

Another property of the Jesus Prayer is its simplicity and accessibility. For performing the Jesus Prayer, one does not need any specialized books, not a special place or time. This is its great advantage over many other prayers.

Finally, there is one more property distinguishing this prayer: in it we confess our sins: “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” This point is very important, because many of our contemporaries absolutely do not feel their sinfulness. Even at Confession one frequently hears: “I don’t know what to repent of: I live like everyone else; I don’t kill or still,” and so on. Meanwhile, it is our sins, as a rule, that are the causes of our major ills and sorrows. One does not recognize one’s sins because one is far from God, like in a dark room we do not see either dust or dirt; but when you open a window, you discover that the room long ago needed cleaning.

The soul of man, far from God, is like a dark room. But the nearer one comes to God, the more light comes into one’s soul, and the more sharply one feels one’s own sinfulness. And this happens not because one compares oneself with other people, but because one stands before God. When we say: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner,” we as it were place ourselves before the face of Christ, comparing our life with His life. And then we will indeed feel ourselves to be sinners and can, from the depth of our hearts, offer repentance.

XXI: The Practice of the Jesus Prayer 

Let’s talk about the practical aspects of the Jesus Prayer. Some people set themselves the task of repeating the Jesus Prayer over the course of the day, say, one hundred, five hundred, or one thousand times. To count how many times they have said the prayer, they use a prayer rope, which may have fifty, one hundred, or more knots. Pronouncing the prayer in their mind, people use a prayer rope. But if you are just beginning the ascetic struggle of the Jesus Prayer, then you should pay more attention to quality, rather than quantity. It seems to me that one should begin with a very slow pronunciation out loud of the words of the Jesus Prayer, ensuring that that heart participates in the prayer. You pronounce: “Lord… Jesus… Christ… ” – and your heart should, like a tuning fork, respond to every word. And do not seek immediately to say the Jesus Prayer many times. Just say it ten times, but if your heart responds to the words of the prayer, that will be enough.

Man has two spiritual centers: the mind and the heart. With the mind is connected intellectual activity, the imagination, and thoughts; with the heart is connected emotions, and experiences. When saying the Jesus Prayer, the center should be the heart. That is why, praying, you should not try to represent anything in the mind – for example, Jesus Christ – but should try to keep your attention in the heart.

The ancient ecclesial ascetic writers developed a technique of “guarding the mind in the heart,” whereby the Jesus Prayer was connected with the breathing: when you inhaled, you said “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God”; and when you exhaled: “have mercy on me, the sinner.” One’s attention was, as it were, naturally transferred from the head to the heart. I do not think that everyone should practice the Jesus Prayer in this way; it is enough to say the words of the prayer with great attention and reverence.

Start your morning with the Jesus Prayer. If during the day you have a free minute, recite the prayer a few more times; in the evening, before sleep, repeat it until you fall asleep. If you learn to wake up and fall asleep with the Jesus Prayer, this will give you enormous spiritual support. Gradually, to the extent that your heart becomes more responsive to the words of this prayer, you can reach the point that it becomes unceasing – moreover, the main content of the prayer will not be in pronouncing the words, but in the constant feeling of God’s presence in your heart. And if you began by saying the prayer out loud, you will gradually reach the point that you will say it only in your heart, without the involvement of the tongue or lips. You will see how the prayer will transform your entire human nature and all your life. This is the special power of the Jesus Prayer.

XXII: Books on the Jesus Prayer 

“Whatever you do, whatever you happen to be doing at any given time, day and night, pronounce with your mouth these Divine words: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.’ This is not difficult: both while travelling, on the road, and during work – whether you are cutting firewood or carrying water, digging the earth or cooking food. After all, in all these things only the body is at work, and the mind is without occupation – so give it something to do that is inherent and pleasant to its immaterial nature: pronouncing the name of God.” This is an excerpt from the book In the Mountains of the Caucasus, which was first published in the beginning of the twentieth century and is dedicated to the Jesus Prayer.

I would like to emphasize that this prayer needs to be learned – moreover, preferably with the help of a spiritual director. In the Orthodox Church there are teachers of prayer among monastics, pastors, and even the laity: these are people who have themselves learned the power of prayer by experience. But if you do not find such an instructor – and many complain that it is now hard to find instructors in prayer – one can turn to books such as In the Mountains of the Caucasus or The Way of a Pilgrim.

The latter, which was published in the nineteenth century and reprinted many times, is about a person who decided to learn unceasing prayer. He was a wanderer who walked from city to city with a bag on his shoulders and a staff, who learned to pray. He repeated the Jesus Prayer several thousand times a day.

There is also the classic five-volume collection of the works of the Holy Fathers from the fourth to the fourteenth century: The Philokalia. This is a very rich treasury of spiritual experience, containing many instructions about the Jesus Prayer and sobriety or mental vigilance. Those who truly desire to learn how to pray should become acquainted with these books.

I also quoted a passage from the book In the Mountains of the Caucasus because many years ago, when I was an adolescent, I had the opportunity to travel to Georgia, to the Caucasus Mountains near Sukhumi. There I met hermits. They lived there even in Soviet times, away from worldly vanity, in caves, gorges, and precipices, and no one knew of their existence. They lived by prayer and passed on a treasury of prayerful experience from generation to generation. These were people who were like from a different world, who had attained great spiritual heights and profound inner peace. And it was all thanks to the Jesus Prayer.

May God grant that, through experienced instructors and through the books of the Holy Fathers, that we learn this treasure: the unceasing practice of the Jesus Prayer!

XXIII: “Our Father, Who Art in the Heavens”

The “Our Father” prayer is of special significance, because Jesus Christ Himself gave it to us. It begins with the words: “Our Father, Who art in the heavens.” This prayer is comprehensive in character: in it is concentrated, as it were, everything that man needs both for earthly life and for the salvation of his soul. The Lord gave it to us so that we would know what we should pray for and what to ask of God.

The first words of this prayer, “Our Father, Who art in the heavens,” reveal to us that God is not some distant or abstract being, not some notional good foundation, but our Father. Today very many people, in response to the question of whether they believe in God, reply in the affirmative; but if you ask them how they imagine God and what they think of Him, they respond something like this: “Well, God is good, it is something luminous, some kind of positive energy.” That is, they treat God like some kind of abstraction, as something impersonal.

When we begin our prayer with the words “Our Father,” then we are immediately appealing to the personal, living God, to God as Father – to the Father about Whom Christ spoke in the parable of the prodigal son. Many people remember the subject of this parable from the Gospel according to Luke. The son decided to leave his father, not waiting for his death. He received the inheritance due to him, went to a far country, and there squandered his inheritance. When he had reached the final limit of poverty and exhaustion, he decided to return to his father. He said to himself: I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants (Luke 15:18-19). And when he was still far off, his father ran to meet him, throwing himself on his neck. The son was not even able to say his prepared words, because the father immediately gave him a ring, the sign of filial dignity, and clothed him in his former clothes – that is, he completely restored him to a son’s dignity. This is precisely the way God treats us. We are not hirelings, but sons of God, and the Lord treats us like His children. Therefore our attitude towards God should be characterized by devotion and noble, filial love.

When we pronounce “Our Father,” this means that we are not praying in isolation, as individuals, each one of which has his own Father, but as members of a single human family, a single Church, a single Body of Christ. In other words, by calling God our Father, we thereby imply that all other people are our brethren. Moreover, when Christ teaches us in prayer to turn to God as “Our Father,” He places Himself as it were on the same level with us. St. Symeon the New Theologian said that through faith in Christ we become Christ’s brethren, because we share with Him a common Father: our Heavenly Father.

As for the words, “Who art in the heavens,” they do not indicate the physical heavens, but that God lives in a completely different dimension than us, that He is absolutely transcended to us. But through prayer, through the Church, we have the opportunity to join in this other world.

XXIV: “Hallowed Be Thy Name” 

What do the words “Hallowed be Thy Name” mean? The Name of God is already holy in itself, bearing within it itself the force of holiness, spiritual strength, and the presence of God. Why do we need to pray in these words? Could it really be that the Name of God won’t remain holy if we don’t say “Hallowed be Thy Name”?

When we say “Hallowed be Thy Name,” we primarily have in mind that the Name of God should be hallowed, that is, be revealed as holy through us, Christians, through our spiritual life. The Apostle Paul, addressing the unworthy Christians of his time, said: For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written (Romans 2:24). These are very important words. They speak of our discrepancy with the spiritual-moral norm that is contained in the Gospel and according to which we, Christians, are obliged to live. This discrepancy is, perhaps, one of the main tragedies both for us as Christians and for the entire Christian Church.

The Church possesses holiness, because it is built on the Name of God, which itself is holy. Members of the Church are far from consistent with the norms that the Church advances. One often hears reproaches – and rightly so – addressed to Christians: “How can you prove the existence of God, if you yourself live no better – and sometimes even worse – than pagans and atheists? How do you reconcile faith in God with unworthy actions?” Thus, each one of us should ask ourselves daily: “Do I correspond as a Christian to the ideal of the Gospel? Is the Name of God hallowed or blasphemed by me? Am I an example of a true Christian, who has love, humility, meekness, and mercy? Or am I an example of the opposite of these virtues?”

Often people turn to priests with the question: “What should I do to bring my son (daughter, husband, mother, father) to church? I talk to them about God, but they don’t want to listen.” The problem is that it isn’t enough just to talk about God. When someone who has become a believer tries to convert others to his faith, especially those close to him, with the help of words, persuasion, and sometimes even coercion, urging them to pray or go to church, this often leads to the opposite result: his neighbors reject everything ecclesial and spiritual. We can bring people to the Church only when we ourselves become true Christians; when they, looking at us, can say: “Yes, now I understand what Christian faith can do for someone, how it can change and transform him; I will begin to believe in God, because I see how Christians differ from non-Christians.

XXV: “Thy Kingdom Come” 

What do these words mean? After all, the Kingdom of God will inevitably come, the world will end, and mankind will enter into another dimension. Obviously, we are not praying that the end of the world would come, but that the Kingdom of God would come to us, that is, that it would become real in our lives, that our present – humdrum, gray, and sometimes dark and tragic – earthly lives would be permeated by the presence of the Kingdom of God.

What is the Kingdom of God? In order to reply to this question, one needs to turn to the Gospel and remember that Jesus Christ began His preaching with the words: Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17). Then Christ repeatedly spoke to people of His Kingdom; He did not object when He was called a King – for instance, when He entered Jerusalem and was greeted as the King of the Jews. Even when on trial and being mocked, slandered, and maligned, the Lord replied to Pilate’s apparently ironic question – Art Thou the King of the Jews? ­–with the words: My kingdom is not of this world (Matthew 18:33-36). These words of the Savior also contain an answer to the question of what the Kingdom of God is. When we turn to God with the words “Thy Kingdom come,” we are asking that this otherworldly and spiritual Kingdom of Christ become a reality in our lives, that the spiritual dimension about which so many speak, but about which so few know by experience, would become manifest in our lives.

When the Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples what awaited Him in Jerusalem – torments, suffering, and death on the Cross – the mother of two of them said to Him: Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other on the left, in Thy kingdom (Matthew 20:21). He was speaking of how He must suffer and die, but she imagined a Man on a royal throne and wanted her sons to be next to Him. But, as we understand, the Kingdom of God was first revealed on the Cross: Christ was crucified, bleeding profusely, and above Him hung a sign: “King of the Jews.” It was only later that the Kingdom of God was revealed in the glorious and saving Resurrection of Christ. It was this Kingdom that we were promised: a Kingdom that is given through great efforts and tribulations. The path to the Kingdom of God lies through Gethsemane and Golgotha: through the trials, temptations, sorrows, and sufferings that befall all of us. We should remember this when we say the prayer “Thy Kingdom come.”

XXVI: “Thy Will Be Done, on Earth as it is in Heaven” 

How lightly we speak these words! And how very rarely do we recognize that our will might not coincide with God’s will. After all, sometimes God sends us suffering, but we turn out to be incapable of accepting it as sent by God, and we murmur indignantly. How often do people, coming up to a priest, say: “I cannot agree with such-and-such; I understand that it’s God’s will, but I cannot come to terms with it.” What can one say to such a person? One isn’t about to say that, apparently, when saying the Lord’s Prayer he needs to replace the words “Thy will be done” with “My will be done”!

Each of us needs to struggle so that our will would correspond with God’s good will. We say: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” That is, God’s will, which is already accomplished in Heaven, in the spiritual world, should also be accomplished here, on earth – and above all in our own lives. And we should be ready to follow God’s voice in everything. One needs to find the strength within oneself to deny one’s own will for the sake of fulfilling God’s will. Often, when praying, we ask for something from God, but do not receive it. And then it seems to us that our prayer has not been heard. We need to find the strength within ourselves to accept this “refusal” on God’s part as His will.

Recall Christ Who, on the eve of His death, prayed to His Father saying: O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. But the cup did not pass, which means that the answer to His prayer was different: Jesus Christ was to drink this cup of suffering, affliction, and death. Knowing this, He said to the Father: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt (Matthew 26:39-42).

Such should be our relationship to God’s will, too. If we feel that some affliction is coming our way and that we will have to drink from a cup for which we might not have the strength, we can say: “Lord, if it is possible, take this cup of sorrow from me, let is pass from me.” But, like Christ, we should conclude our prayer with the words: “But not my will, but Thine be done.”

We need to relate to God with confidence. Children often ask their parents for something that the latter don’t give them because they consider it to be dangerous. Years go by, and one understands just how right one’s parents were. So it is with us. Time passes, and we suddenly understand just how much more beneficial what the Lord sent us was than what we had wanted to get according to our own will.

XXVII: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” 

We can turn to God with a great variety of petitions. We can ask Him not only for that which is sublime and spiritual, but also for that which is essential for us on the material plane. “Daily bread” is what we live on; it’s our daily nourishment. Moreover, in the prayer we say: “Give us this day our daily bread.” In other words, we don’t ask God to provide us with everything necessary for all the subsequent days of our lives. We ask Him for daily food, knowing that if He feeds us today, then He will feed us tomorrow, too. Pronouncing these words, we express our trust in God: we trust Him with our life today, just as we trust Him for tomorrow.

The words “daily bread” indicate that which is necessary for life, and not anything excessive. One might set out on the way of acquisitiveness and, having everything necessary – a roof over one’s head, a piece of bread, and a minimum of material goods – begin to engage in hoarding and luxury. That way leads to a dead end, because the more one accumulates and the more money one has, the more one feels the emptiness of life, feeling that there are other needs that cannot be satisfied with material goods. Thus, “daily bread” is that which is essential. It is not a limousine, nor palaces, nor millions of dollars – it is that without which neither we, nor our children, nor our kinsmen can live.

Some understand the words “daily bread” in a more elevated sense: as “super-essential.” In particular, the Greek Church Fathers wrote that “super-essential bread” is the Bread that comes down from heaven – in other words, Christ Himself, Whom Christians receive in the Mystery of Holy Communion. Such an understanding is also justifiable, because besides material bread, one also needs spiritual bread.

Everyone can invest his own content into the concept of “daily bread.” During the war, a boy prayed: “Give us this day our daily bread,” because his main food was dried bread. The main thing necessary for the boy and his family for sustaining life was dried bread. This might seem funny or sad, but it shows that everyone – both old and young – asks God for what he needs most of all, for that without which he cannot live for a single day.

XXVIII: “And Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors”

Prayer is inextricably bound up with one’s way of life. The reason for the difficulties one experiences in prayer lies in an incorrect, unspiritual, and non-evangelical life. We sense this especially when we say the “Our Father.” Each petition of this prayer places us in front of a given reality, as if we were being judged – judged by our own conscience. And this prayer, if we pray from our soul and heart – if we really think about what is written here – should constantly force us to change our lives.

We say: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” that is, we ask God to forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are in debt to us. When we speak these words, we should ask ourselves: do we forgive our neighbors? Are we ready to place our own forgiveness by God in dependence on whether we forgive others? Isn’t this too frightening? Isn’t this too much responsibility?

Experience shows that it isn’t so difficult to forgive everyone, just as it isn’t so difficult to love everyone ­– everyone, in an abstract sense. Many people say: I love people, I just can’t come to terms with two or three people – my neighbors, my co-workers, my mother in law – but I love everyone else. Thus, the words “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” reminds us of the couple of people that we can’t forgive, whose debts we can’t forgive. And this prayer teaches us that, as long as we don’t forgive them, we can’t hope that the Lord will forgive us.

Earthly life is give to us so that we would make peace with everyone. In life many knots are tied, and it is our task to manage to untie them while we still have time. Nothing is impossible for man. It can be very difficult to make peace with someone, to forgive someone, but if we don’t find the strength for this, we can’t count on God to forgive us. If we call God our Father and ourselves Christians, if we say “Hallowed be Thy Name” – that is, that the name of God should be holy, and the holiness of God’s name should be manifest through our deeds – then how can we not forgive our debtors, those who have offended, insulted, or humiliated us?

Christian life is an ascetic struggle , and we should relate to it responsibly; we should earn the right to say the Lord’s Prayer. And we earn this right through our good deeds. No single word – and, moreover, no word of prayer – should be in vain, empty, or unjustified. Behind every word there is a reality, and behind the words of the “Our Father” should stand our actions. If we say to God: “Thy will be done,” that means that we should submit our will to His will, to God’s will. And if we ask God: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” this means that we should learn to forgive everyone we consider blameworthy, whom we consider to be in our debt.

XXIX: “And Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From the Evil One”

What is temptation and who is the evil one?

Temptation is a test that is either sent to us from God, or comes from the devil, but is allowed by God. Every temptation for us is a kind of endurance test. And sometimes we pass this test, and sometimes we don’t. When we ask God: “And lead us not into temptation,” we are as it were saying to God: “Do not send us a test beyond our strength; send us the kind that we can deal with, so that the trials and tribulations that You send will not crush us or kill our faith.”

The evil one is the devil, the enemy of the human race. With regard to the devil, one needs to avoid two extremes. Some tend to deny the existence of the devil and demons. These people – believers or unbelievers – do not recognize the real existence in this world of evil powers; moreover, not as abstract powers, but as living beings, because the devil and demons, like angels, are real, living beings. There is another extreme, especially widespread among believing and churchly people, when people exaggerate the importance of the devil, when one becomes so afraid of the actions of the devil and evil powers, that he lives in a semi-paralyzed condition. Hence the common fear among believers of the evil eye, black magic, and the like. Hence comes about a timid approach to life, when one is scared of everything, when one sees threats everywhere, and when one can’t live creatively, freely, and fully.

We should remember that evil, of course, has power and can have a negative, even devastating impact on our lives, but only when we ourselves allow it access to us. The devil is powerless where he isn’t invited, where his presence isn’t wanted. If one goes to church, prays, wears a cross, and makes the sign of the cross; if he fulfills God’s commandments and refrains from sins, then the devil is powerless and has no place in such a person. When does the devil gain strength? When one opens the floodgates and vents in one’s home; when, for instance, one falls into a given passion: say, when one becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol. The danger of alcoholism is not that people drink more wine than they should; it’s that it weakens him and opens the way for the devil to get inside his soul.

Therefore, when we pray to God: “Deliver us from the evil one,” we are asking that he would always grant us the power to refrain from that which gives the evil one power over our lives. And if we learn this, then neither the devil, nor any other dark power, nor black magic, nor anything like it can have any effect on us.

XXX: Prayer to the Mother of God

Orthodox Christians pray not only to God, but also to the Mother of God and the saints. This practice of prayer in the Orthodox Church differs from, for example, the practice of Protestant communities. Protestants do not recognize prayer to the Mother of God and the saints. They say: we do not need intermediaries to approach God. This is a fair remark – we do not need “intermediaries” – but the conclusion drawn therefrom is wrong. After all, we don’t pray to the Mother of God as to a kind of middle tier between us and God; we pray to her because she is the Mother of God, because it is impossible to separate her from her Divine Son.

When I was studying in England, my professor – an elderly Orthodox bishop – often invited me for studies in his home. I would go to his house, and his elderly mother would open the door for me. Imagine if I didn’t greet her, if I didn’t notice her, but passed right by her into the house saying: “I don’t need any intermediaries; I only deal with the bishop.” It seemed to me perfectly natural that, dealing with the son, I also dealt with the mother. Of course, this argument is of a purely everyday character.

There are also more serious arguments. The most important of these is the experience of millions of people who show that the Mother of God listens to their prayers and replies to them; that she helps people; and, moreover, that she is indeed an intercessor for people before her Son and God.

The Mother of God is inseparable from the Savior; Her exploit is inseparable from His. Consider that when the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven to say to her: thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son (Luke 1:31), the Incarnation depended upon her agreement or disagreement. She could have said “no,” but she said “yes.” She raised the Child, brought Him to the Temple in sacrifice to God; She traversed His entire earthly life alongside Him. When Christ was crucified, she stood at the Cross, because she could not be separated from Him. She was with Him even in His most fearful suffering, because she became a participant in His exploit.

When the Lord was on the Cross, His beloved disciple stood next to Him, and He said to her: Woman, behold thy son! And to his disciple He said: Behold thy Mother (John 19: 26-27). He thereby, as it were, gave over not only to his beloved disciple, but to all His disciples, her protection and care. From that moment she, as the Mother of her Son, also became the Mother of His followers, that is, the Mother of the Church. And we turn to her as to our Mother and the Mother of the Church.

We say in prayer to the Mother of God: “Most Holy Theotokos, save us.” This doesn’t mean that we consider her to be our savior. The Savior is Christ. But we confess her involvement in the mystery of salvation, her participation in this mystery. And we understand that salvation is possible for us because the Mother of God expressed her agreement with the word of God addressed to her. And, thanks to her consent, we have access to her Son and her God, our Heavenly Father.

XXXI: Prayer to the Saints

The tradition of the veneration of saints in the Christian Church is very ancient; it has existed from the very moment of the Church’s appearance, from the first years of its existence. Christian churches in antiquity were built on the graves of martyrs. And it was the blood of martyrs, according to the words of one ancient ecclesial writer, that was the “seed of Christianity”; that is, Christianity spread through the exploit of the martyrs.

The martyrs are people who showed by the example of their own life and death that man can repeat Christ’s exploit; that earthly man, for all his weaknesses and infirmities, can likewise sacrifice himself for people and for God, as did Jesus Christ. He who offered himself in sacrifice became a spiritual hero in the eyes of other people, especially in the eyes of those who knew him. The veneration of this saint began immediately after his death. The tradition has been preserved to the present day according to which an Orthodox church must have at least a small particle of a saint. One should not perform the Divine Liturgy on a simple table: it is to be performed on a Holy Table or special board into which part of the relics of a saint is sewn. The reason for this is that martyrs ant saints are the foundation upon which the Christian Church is built. We pray to saints because these were people who, although they were like us, thanks to the exploit of their lives attained deification, becoming like Christ. We pray to them because they followed the path that we are trying to follow. And the experience of many Christians witnesses to the fact that the saints hear our prayers and answer them.

I’d like to mention very briefly one negative phenomenon connected with the veneration of the saints. The facts is that some people regard the saints rather like the pagans regarded their gods: on the principle of “what saint can help with what.” Such people go to church and ask: “To what saint should I put up a candle in order to get an apartment?” “To what saint should I pray for a toothache,” etc. We should remember that the saints are not some kind of idols from which one can obtain something special. The saints are not specialists in finding apartments, in curing toothaches, or other similar things. There are, of course, saints who were doctors during their lives, and we turn to them with appeals for healing, such as the Holy Great-Martyr Panteleimon. And, indeed, through the prayers of such saints many healings do occur. But by no means should one regard the saints as a sort of fetish: we shouldn’t replace prayer to the saints, as to people who attained spiritual perfection and who can help us in prayer, with prayer to the saints as some sort of idols that are needed only for attaining specific help.

The saints are above all our heavenly friends, who can help us progress on the path to salvation, on the path to God. And only secondarily are saints those that can help us in specific everyday matters.

XXXII: Life is Impossible Without Prayer 

To sum up our talk about prayer: prayer is above all a conversation with God, an encounter with Him; it’s a dialogue that involves not only our own words addressed to God, but also God’s answer. Therefore it’s important that we not only be able to speak, but also to be silent, so that we can listen to those Divine depths that are revealed to us through prayer.

In prayer one needs to be absolutely honest. Here there can’t be anything ambiguous or artificial. We need to stand before God as we are and say to Him what needs to be said, what we are thinking and feeling. Therefore, for communion with God there’s no need to think up a special language, to look for special words, or to choose special topics. We should pray to God for what our heart is asking and yearning for.

One needs to pray continuously. It isn’t enough to pray from time to time, only when we need something from God; we should be always praying: morning, evening, and over the course of the day and our entire life. And at the center of our prayer shouldn’t be anything specific that we’re asking for from God, but God Himself, because the main content of prayer is always our encounter with God, the possibility of discovering Him for ourselves.

We should pray not only for ourselves, but also for others; not only for our relatives and friends, but for our enemies. We should pray to God not as isolated individuals, but as people who represent a portion of humanity, addressing God not only on our own behalf, but also on behalf of the one human family, for God is the Heavenly Father of each one of us.

We pray not only to God, but also to the Mother of God and the saints because they are our heavenly protectors, our heavenly intercessors. We pray to our Guardian Angel that he would guard us in all our ways.

We pray not only for the living, but also for the departed, that the Lord would grant them peace and repose.

Once again I’d like to emphasize that prayer should be the foundation of our life, that upon which our whole life should be configured. The Christian life should correspond to prayer. If one is unsuccessful in prayer, it means that one is living wrongly, that one’s spiritual condition doesn’t correspond to prayer.

Let us learn to pray; let us work so that prayer would reach our heart and, through our heart, ascend to the heavenly heights to reach God. Let us work on ourselves, that prayer would become the core and foundation of our life. Let us ask God, the Mother of God, and the saints, that they would teach us to pray, because life without prayer is impossible, just as it’s impossible to live and be saved without God and His Church.

Translated from the Russian

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PRAYER GUIDE FOR RENEWAL SPRING 2004 at Yemassee Baptist Church.

When our church needed revival we used the following prayer guide.  These prayer guides were handed out during our Wednesday night adult Bible study in the sanctuary.  I then challenged the adults to walk throughout the church facilities and prayer over every square inch using these specific instructions.

The purpose of this prayer guide is to break down the bonds of sin that may have crept into our fellowship and prepare our hearts, minds, emotions, and spirit for a moving of God.  Why prayer walk?  For God to heal our land, His people must pray (2 Chronicles 7:14).  Jesus was our ultimate example and He was always busy praying (see John 17).  Paul prayed throughout his epistles and said pray without ceasing (see Ephesians 1:15-19; 3:14-19).  Two main reasons:

1) FOCUS

a) Helps us all focus on same area, issues, and concerns united as a body, as a church.

b) Helps us all agree in prayer.

c) Helps us all experience the same things at the same time together to build unity as a body of Christ.

2) GUIDE YOUR PRAYERS

a) See the needs first hand so one can visualize what you are praying for and to remember how God led you to pray.  If a thought comes to mind as you are praying, even if you think is frivolous, pray it.

b) See the faces.  Realize you are not just praying for the group “the youth” but rather praying for them by name.

c) Makes the prayers personal.

To begin, we need to get right with God before one can begin to left up our prayers to Him.  If you would prefer, find a quiet place in the sanctuary alone to begin to study God’s Word and to pray.

1) Ask God for forgiveness for yourself. Please read and meditate on Acts 3:19 and 1 John 1:9.

If there are people you need to ask forgiveness from, write down their names and call them ASAP.  Ask God to be completely cleansed of your sins and to convict you of sin that is unconfessed.  Pray that you will repent from your sins.  Pray that you will be made pure before Him.

2) Pray for the salvation and security of your family.  Pray that those in your family will all come to Christ and to rest securely in their salvation.  Pray for marriages in your family.  Pray that couples will be reunited and families will be repaired.  Pray that you will be an example.  If you are married, pray for your marriage.

3) Pray for our church body as a whole as we begin Renewal. Pray that God will truly bring revival and refreshing to our hearts.  Pray that we will be convicted of sin and repent from our sins and be turned back to God and His Word.  Pray for unity and an end of gossip.  Pray that God will grant us wisdom in how to proceed with Renewal this weekend.  Pray that revival will come in a mighty way.

Please move to the back of the church and sit in one of the last pews.

¨      Pray for those in the back of the church that may be visitors.  They may not be Christians and may have been telling God NO for decades.  Pray that they will say YES this weekend.  Pray that their hearts will be opened to truly hearing and accepting the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

¨      Pray for those who may be driving by and struggling whether to stop. Pray for the effectiveness of our advertising and that God will convict those He wants here to stop.  Draw them to our church and motivate us to invite people.  Pray for those in the parking lot that have stopped but are debating whether to come in or not.

¨      Pray for those by name that usually sit in the back of the church during services. Pray for God to work in their hearts and lives.  Pray that they will repent from their sins and be open to experience a true refreshing from Christ.  Pray that they won’t be just going through the motions of playing church but rather eagerly want to hear a new word from God for their lives.

¨      Pray for the ushers and greeters. Pray that they will greet people with a smile and make them feel welcome.

Please move to the front of the church and sit in one of the front pews.

¨      Pray in the front of the church for those who may have been Christians for “150

years.” Pray for them by name.  Pray that they will be open to hear a fresh word

from God.  Pray that God will convict them of sin and lead them to repentance.  Pray

for purity and wisdom as they lead our church.

¨      Pray for those who are in leadership to not experience “burnout” or exhaustion

by having to carry the load so often for our church. Pray for new people to help

them with their load.  Pray for their walk with Christ to be refreshed and renewed.

Please move to the stage area, either sit in one of the chairs on the stage or on the stage itself.

¨      Pray for Renewal speaker—Pray for safe travel for him.  Pray for a peace of mind and protection.  Bind Satan from preventing him from coming or distracting him.  Pray that he will be prayed up and confessed up.  Pray that he will be led of the Spirit and be moved to preach and voice that which God wants him to say.

¨      Pray for  our Renewal worship leader. Pray for a peace of mind and protection.  Bind Satan from preventing her from coming or distracting her.  Pray that she will be prayed up and confessed up.  Pray that she will be led of the Spirit and be moved to sing and lead us through praise that honors God and draws us into worship that pleases Him.

Please move to the Young Adult Sunday School classroom and take a seat.

¨      Pray for the young couples in our church that are struggling. Pray that they will be drawn to Renewal and to find refreshing in their marriage, in their families, their jobs, and in their hearts.  Pray for the young couples in this class and in our church.  Pray for them by name and pray that they will be led to repent of sins and truly be refreshed.  Pray for unity in their marriages and in their homes.  Pray that the men will rise up and be leaders in their home and love and serve their wives.

¨      Pray for their teacher as he leads this class. Grant him wisdom as he teaches and leads by example.  Pray that he will find refreshing in his heart and life this weekend.

Please move to the Fellowship Sunday School classroom and take a seat.

¨      Pray for the Fellowship class.  Pray that God will refresh the hearts of the ladies in this class and pray that He will bless them.  Pray for them by name and pray that they will be led to repent of sins and truly be refreshed.  Pray for their health: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

¨      Pray for their  teacher–Grant her wisdom as she teaches and leads by example.  Pray that she will find refreshing in her heart and life this weekend

¨      Pray for the Co-ed class. Pray that they will be drawn to Renewal and to find refreshing in their marriage, in their families, their jobs, and in their hearts.  Pray for the couples in this class and in our church.  Pray for them by name and pray that they will be led to repent of sins and truly be refreshed.  Pray for unity in their marriages and in their homes.  Pray that the men will rise up and be leaders in their home and love and serve their wives.

¨      Pray for their teacher— Grant him wisdom as he teaches and leads by example.  Pray that he will find refreshing in his heart and life this weekend.  Encourage and strengthen him as he leads us as music director.

Please move to the education building and walk past the children and youth rooms.  As you are walking past them, lift them up in prayer.  Go to the pastor’s office and find a seat to begin to pray.

¨      Pray for our pastor and his wife—Pray that God will grant him wisdom as he prepares sermons, Bible studies, and lessons for our congregation.  Pray that he will grow deeper in his walk with God and live a life of integrity.  Pray for their marriage and for their Bible study together.  Pray for their baby in the womb.  Pray for her aerobics ministry and her ministry with the women in our church.  Pray for her as a pastor’s wife.

YOUTH/CHILDREN SS LEADERSHIP

¨      Pray for the Sunday School Director— Grant him wisdom as he coordinates our SS and leads by example.  Pray that he will find refreshing in his heart and life this weekend.

¨      Pray for the Assist. SS Director— Grant her wisdom as she coordinates our SS and leads by example.  Pray that she will find refreshing in her heart and life this weekend.

¨      Pray for the Church Treasurer— Grant her wisdom as she keeps our church financial books and leads by example.  Pray that she will find refreshing in her heart and life this weekend.

¨      Pray for the Youth teacher— Grant her wisdom as she teaches and leads by example.  Pray that she will find refreshing in her heart and life this weekend.

¨      Pray for the Sunshine Class teacher–Grant her wisdom as she teaches and leads by example.  Pray that she will find refreshing in her heart and life this weekend.

¨      Pray for the Assist. Sunshine Class teacher— Grant her wisdom as she teaches and leads by example.  Pray that she will find refreshing in her heart and life this weekend.

¨      Pray for the Teacher of Busy Bees class— Grant her wisdom as she teaches and leads by example.  Pray that she will find refreshing in her heart and life this weekend.

¨      Pray for the assist. teacher of the Busy Bees class— Grant him wisdom as he teaches and leads by example.  Pray that he will find refreshing in his heart and life this weekend.

¨      Pray for the Teachers of Discovery class— Grant them wisdom as they teach and lead by example.  Pray that they will find refreshing in their heart and life this weekend.

¨      Pray for the teacher of the Mick Mick Class— Grant her wisdom as she teaches and leads by example.  Pray that she will find refreshing in her heart and life this weekend.

¨      Pray for the nursery workers— Grant her wisdom as she teaches and leads by example.  Pray that she will find refreshing in her heart and life this weekend.

YOUTH, CHILDREN & NURSERY—please pray for as many by name as you can.

¨      Pray for them to go deeper in God’s Word and come to Christ early in life.  Pray for them to experience true refreshing.  Pray that they will come to salvation before they are pulled away as a teenager.  Pray for our children’s committee and teachers as they seek direction in how to nurture and train up our children in God’s Word.  Pray for dedication and consistency.

¨      Pray for their families. Pray for their parents to be godly role models and pray that fathers will be able to show little girls what a true gentlemen is.  Pray for their self-esteem and as they formulate their identity.  Pray for the children that are hurting from deaths in their families or from divorces.  Pray that their parents will be the primary ones in helping them determine “who they are.”  Pray that parents will be the ones that openly show them healthy and loving physical affection and verbally tell them how much they are loved and how much they are proud of them.

¨      Pray for their protection. Pray that the children will abstain from drugs.  Pray that they will be guarded and protected from drug pushers and “friends” who are pressuring them to continue or to begin in that lifestyle.  Pray for their physical protection from sexual predators, bullies, and abuse from family.

YOUTH—please pray for as many by name as you can.

¨      Pray for them to go deeper in God’s Word. For some, they may not return to church after high school graduation and our window for ministry with them is small.  Pray that they may come to find the Christian life is so much more fulfilling than living for self and in the world.   Pray for youth to rise up and be Godly leaders that we can build a youth leadership team around.  Pray for their youth teachers and workers to be sensitive to their needs and for us to develop a ministry that will allow them to grow in their relationship with God.  ¨     

Pray for their families. Pray for their families and pray for their parents to be Godly role models.  Pray for the parents that do not know Christ and pray that they will come to know Him.  Pray for their self-esteem and as they formulate their identity.  Pray for the children that are hurting from deaths in their families or from divorces.  Pray that their parents will be the primary ones in helping them determine “who they are.”  Pray that parents will be the ones that openly show them healthy and loving physical affection and verbally tell them how much they are loved and how much they are proud of them. 

¨      Pray for their protection. Pray that the youth will abstain from drugs.  Many struggle with alcohol, cigarettes, and illegal drugs.  Pray that they will be guarded and protected from drug pushers and “friends” who are pressuring them to continue or to begin in that lifestyle.  With immortality so prevalent in our society and with incredible pressure from their peers, temptations are everywhere for them.  Pray for them to flee from sexual immortality and for them to find Godly men/women to date.  Some are struggling with scares from past mistakes.  Pray for healing.

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