But these prayers are not at all new and have been employed by many saints and millions of pious people over many centuries, so I don't see why one would think one needs to question them. It is not like they are an innovation. Iconoclasm and Nestorianism and Arianism, etc. were innovations. They cause disturbances because they were new and did not jive with what had been received. It's not like we're going to wake up one day and realize, "Oh my! We've been in error all this time!" At some point, one has to trust the Church, because it is the Church that gives us these prayers. Heresies come from individuals.
I take your point, but how new are they (that's a genuine question, not a point of argument)? The increase in Marian devotion and the wording of prayer may be an innovation. When using that word, I'm not ascribing a definitive negative value to "innovation." The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is innovative.
There was an interesting thread a few weeks back that dealt with the history of Marian devotion: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,35516.0.html
Unfortunately, apart from the Sub tuum praesidium
, there was little information on this. I am inclined to believe that we have followed the correct path, somewhere between the horrible denigration of the Holy Theotokos' role in many Protestant traditions and the heretical, and movements toward further heretical dogmas within the RCC.
Yes, countless holy people have used these prayers. Similarly, I imagine that many holy people in 5th century Constantinople substituted Christotokos as well. Again, I must stress that I am not arguing that these prayers are heretical in any way, simply wondering how we are supposed to approach questions like this.
I love the Orthodox Church, and I love my particular parish, but I also believe that there are Icons at my church which are theologically wrong, and resulted from relatively recent Western influence (not to get off on that topic).
Ultimately, I think you're right, and there is far more to be gained from simply following the teachings of the Church, rather than questioning them. There are issues and debates which are pedantic and distracting, but I hope that searching for a better understanding of the development and meaning of our prayers isn't viewed among them.