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Oriental Orthodox Prayers

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I have just recently been locating and collecting a range of uniquely OO prayers in order to diversify my personal prayer book so as to thereby further enrich my private prayer life. I thought I would create this thread to share, at regular intervals, God-willing, those prayers which enhanced my experience most immensely, in the hope that such prayers will also assist and edify others. For now, here is an amazing prayer to the Most Holy Mary, Bearer of God, by Catholicos St Simeon Yerevantsi (18th Century):

After knocking, with much personal anguish, at the door of mercy of our God and your Only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, I now turn to you with a tearful face. I fall prostrate at your pure feet and knock at the door of your motherly mercy, O Mary, blessed by all...

...O Holy Mary, Bearer of God, what would God the Father withhold from you, He who loved you so much that He granted you His Only-begotten Son through whom He created all creatures? What would God the Son withhold from you that you would ask of Him, He who loved you so much that He dwelt in your womb and sat in your lap, who feeds all but was fed from your breasts, who was your God and Lord but became your son and called you Mother? God the Spirit, too, loved you so much that He entrusted His co-equal in essence to you and He who adorns everything rested in you and made you the lodging place for His unending gifts. What could be lacking that you do not possess? For I truly believe that, according to the angel’s word, the Lord and Giver of all spiritual gifts is with you, (Luke 1:28) and your Son is verily in your lap. Whatever your Son has is yours, and whatever you ask of Him, He will not withhold. And you are able to give to whomever you will: as your Son says through the mouth of Solomon, “Ask, my mother; for whatever you may ask, I shall not turn my face away.”

Therefore, O Mary, holy Bearer of God, next to God you are the expectation of His creatures. You are the joy of the sorrowful, deliverer of the tempted, helper and comfort of believers, and hope and refuge for sinners. In keeping with this, your beloved Son on the cross left to you, through John, those who would believe in Him, as a bequest. By saying, “Woman, behold your son,” (John 19:26) it was as if He said, “Those who believe in Me are yours, and henceforth they are committed to you.” Likewise, in the persona of John He said to us who believe: “‘Behold your mother’; (John 19:27) from now on ask of her whatever you wish.”

Now, O Mother of compassion, Mary, holy Bearer of God, I too am one of the believers in your beloved Son, a pitiful person in spirit and body and wanting in everything. I long for your motherly pity. Being oppressed and wounded by spiritual and physical enemies, I desire your help. Sinful and guilty in everything, I desire your support and your infusion of hope...Be a mediator and commend me, sinful servant that I am, to your only-begotten Son, that He may accept my pleadings which I have presented to Him and that He may fulfill my requests; that He may forgive my mistakes and pardon all my sins; that He may accept me again into his love and care and that He may keep me as it pleases His will for as long as I am in this body. And after the present life, may He make me worthy to behold Him in bliss.

For I surely believe, O Mother of mercy, that if you were to mention me but once before your beloved Son, it would make my joy and my security in every way complete. If you were to show Him your pure breasts but once, that would be sufficient for my salvation and my absolute deliverance. And if you were to remind Him of just one drop of the tears which you shed at the time of His crucifixion, it would mean the forgiveness of all my sins and life altogether eternal. These are, one and all, easy and possible for your motherly compassion, abundant in mercy; and they are altogether essential and necessary for me, your pitiful servant. And having found mercy from you, I shall glorify your only-begotten Son, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and shall praise you with thanksgiving, Mother of mercy, forever and ever. Amen.

Here is a beautiful After Communion prayer from one of the Syrian Orthodox Prayer books (I have done some minor editing on the english and grammar):

With what tongue shall I give thanks to You, O my worshipped God, and how can I praise this great and indescribable Grace of Yours? For You were pleased to give me Your most high Being as a Divine Provision. You have  intoxicated my spirit with Your blood, sanctified me with Your Spirit and satisfied my hunger from the bounty of Your house.  I, therefore, offer You my heart as a dwelling place for Your Majesty forever, that You may reign over all my feelings and inclinations and control them according to Your will. I pray that my Communion may increase my faith, strengthen my hope, kindle within me the fire of Your sweet love, and cause me to grow in all and every virtue. May this Communion be a weapon that shields me against all ambushes of the enemies of my soul.  May it be for unity with You until I gain the privilege of attaining eternal life in Your Heaven with the congregation of Your Saints.  With them I shall offer praise to You with Your Father and Your Holy Spirit forever.  Amen.

I particularly love the imagery of intoxication--an allusion to the notion of "spiritual/sober drunkenness"--which seems to be popular in Syrian Orthodox descriptions of elevated states of spiritual experience.

Here are some prayers from the Sunrise Service (Prime) of the Armenian Church.  The prayers were written by St. Nerses Shnorhali in the 12th century.

O Light!  Creator of light, primal light that dwellest in unapproachable light, O heavenly Father, blessed art Thou by the ranks of the luminous ones.  At the rising of the morning light, shine forth upon our souls Thine intelligible light.

O Light!  Born of the Light, righteous Sun, ineffable generation, Son of the Father, Thy name is praised with the Father before the sun.  At the rising of the morning light, shine forth upon our souls Thine intelligible light.

O Light!  Procession from the Father, source of goodness, Holy Spirit of God, the children of the Church praise Thee together with the angels.  At the rising of the morning light, shine forth upon our souls Thine intelligible light.

O Light!  Triune and one indivisible Holy Trinity, we, born of the earth, glorify Thee always together with the heavenly hosts.  At the rising of the morning light, shine forth upon our souls Thine intelligible light.

A prayer to the Holy Spirit by St. Gregory of Narek (10th century):

Almighty, beneficent God of all, who loves mankind, maker
of the visible and invisible, savior and creator,
defender and peacemaker, spirit of the Father Almighty,
we beseech you with outstretched arms, tears and prayers,
as we appear before you,
you, who strike terror in our hearts,
judge us as we approach with trembling fear,
presenting first this sacrificial offering of words to your power
that is beyond understanding.
You share the throne, glory and creatorship of the undiminishing
honor of the Father.
You examine our deepest secrets and mysteries.
O Emmanuel, who fulfill the will of your Father
who sent you as the Savior, life-giver and creator.
Through you he is made known to us,
three persons in one Godhead,
of which only you, incomprehensibly, can be known.
By you and through you did our forefathers
the first generation of the patriarchal tribe, called prophets,
tell of the past and the future,
what has been and what is yet to come, in plain words and images.
Spirit of God, Moses proclaimed you as the one
who brooded on the water, an unbounded force,
taking the new-born under your protective wing with care,
and with loving kindness revealing the mystery of the baptismal font.
Likewise, in the pattern of the archetype, before fashioning
the pliable substance with its final covering,
you shaped, in lordly manner, all nature,
the full range existence, all beings from nothing.
Through you all that has been created shall receive
the renewal of the resurrection
on the last day of this life
and the first day in the land of the living.
Christ obeyed you with unity of will as he did his Father,
being of the same family, of the same essence as the Father.
Being the first born son in our image,
he announced, you, true God,
equal and consubstantial with his mighty Father,
He preached against those who blasphemed you,
and, as opponents of God, spoke impiously against you.
He silenced the blasphemous mouths and graced his own people,
Just as the spotless, who finds all,
who was betrayed for our sins,
and rose from the dead to justify us.
Through you glory to him and praise to you,
with the Father almighty, forever and ever.

Again, I shall continue in this manner
until the assurance of the miraculous light
heralds the good news of peace.
With all our souls
we pray and beseech you with tearful cries, glorious creator,
incorruptible and uncreated, timeless Holy Spirit of compassion.
You are the intercessor of our silent sighs to your merciful Father.
You who keep the saints, purify the sinners and build the temple,
of the giving and life-giving will of the Father,
free me now from all unclean deeds,
which are not pleasing for our dwelling place.
Do not extinguish the light of grace
in us and in our minds’ eye,
for we have learned that you will join us,
through prayer and sumptuous incensing.
One of the Trinity is sacrificed and the other accepts it,
favoring us with the reconciling blood of his first born
so that you might accept our supplications.
Prepare for us honorable lodgings
for the partaking of our heavenly lamb,
that we might eat life-giving manna of the new salvation
and escape the punishments of condemnation.
Our blasphemy shall be purified in the refiner’s fire,
As the prophet told of the live coal in the tongs of offering at the altar.
In all things you spread your mercy through the Son of God.
Also spread the sweetness of the Father,
as you embraced the prodigal son with fatherly inheritance,
and led the prostitute to the bliss of the heavenly kingdom.

Yes, yes, and I too am one of them.
Receive me with them,
as one who is needy of your great love for mankind,
one who lives only by your grace, redeemed by the blood of Christ,
so that your divinity might be revealed and in all ways glorified.
You are honored equally with the Father,
with one will and one rule, worthy of praise.
For yours is compassion, ability and loving-kindness,
might and glory forever and ever.

—St. Gregory of Narek, Book of Lamentations, Prayer 33, F-H, Transl. by Thomas J. Samuelian

Another prayer of St. Gregory of Nareg:

Beneficent, almighty, awe-inspiring God,
good Father, charitable donor of mercy,
whose very name heralds the good news of
your grandeur, compassion and fatherly affection,
you are gentle even toward the bitter and discontented.

With you also is your Son, who is like you,
whose hand is strong like yours,
whose awesome reign is eternal like yours,
whose exaltation is shared with you in your creation.

So too the Holy Spirit of your truth,
that flows from you without end,
the perfect essence of existence
and eternal being, is equal to you
in all things, reigning with the Son
in equal glory.
Three persons, one mystery,
separate faces, unique and distinct,
made one by their congruence
and being of the same holy substance and nature,
unconfused and undivided,
one in will and one in action.
One is not greater, one is not lesser,
not even by an eyelash, and because
of the unobscurable light of heavenly love
revealed in our midst both have been
glorified with a single crown of holiness
from before the ages.

From prayer 13 of the Book of Lamentations


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