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Author Topic: Getting started with a daily prayer rule  (Read 19917 times) Average Rating: 5
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Irish Hermit
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« on: February 01, 2009, 06:52:30 AM »

Helpful Information for
Keeping a Prayer Rule


By St. Theophan the Recluse

You ask about a prayer rule. Yes, it is
good to have a prayer rule on account of
our weakness so that on the one hand we
do not give in to laziness, and on the
other hand we restrain our enthusiasm to
its proper measure. The greatest
practitioners of prayer kept a prayer rule.
They would always begin with established
prayers, and if during the course of these
a prayer started on its own, they would
put aside the others and pray that prayer.
If this is what the great practitioners of
prayer did, all the more reason for us to do so. Without established prayers, we would not
know how to pray at all. Without them, we would be left entirely without prayer.
However, one does not have to do many prayers. It is better to perform a small number of
prayers properly than to hurry through a large number of prayers, because it is difficult to
maintain the heat of prayerful zeal when they are performed to excess.

I would consider the morning and evening prayers as set out in the prayer books to be entirely
sufficient for you. Just try each time to carry them out with full attention and corresponding
feelings. To be more successful at this, spend a little of your free time at reading over all the
prayers separately. Think them over and feel them, so that when you recite them at your
prayer rule, you will know the holy thoughts and feelings that are contained in them. Prayer
does not mean that we just recite prayers, but that we assimilate their content within
ourselves, and pronounce them as if they came from our minds and hearts.


continued....
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Irish Hermit
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2009, 06:55:36 AM »



After you have considered and felt the prayers, work at memorizing them. Then you will not
have to fumble about for your prayer book and light when it is time to pray; neither will you be
distracted by anything you see while you are performing your prayers, but can more easily
maintain thoughtful petition toward God. You will see for yourself what a great help this is. The
fact that you will have your prayer book with you at all times and in all places is of great
significance.

Being thus prepared, when you stand at prayer be careful to keep your mind from drifting and
your feeling from coldness and indifference, exerting yourself in every way to keep your
attention and to spark warmth of feeling. After you have recited each prayer, make
prostrations, as many as you like, accompanied by a prayer for any necessity that you feel, or by
the usual short prayer. This will lengthen your prayer time a little, but its power will be
increased. You should pray a little longer on your own especially at the end of your prayers,
asking forgiveness for unintentional straying of the mind, and placing yourself in God's hands for
the entire day.

You must also maintain prayerful attention toward God throughout the day. For this, as we
have already mentioned more than once, there is remembrance of God; and for remembrance
of God, there are short prayers. It is good, very good, to memorize several psalms and recite
them while you are working or between tasks, doing this instead of short prayers sometimes,
with concentration. This is one of the most ancient Christian customs, mentioned by and
included in the rules of St. Pachomius and St. Anthony.

After spending the day in this manner, you must pray more diligently and with more
concentration in the evening. Increase your prostrations and petitions to God, and after you
have placed yourself in Divine hands once again, go to bed with a short prayer on your lips and
fall asleep with it or recite some psalm.
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2009, 06:59:49 AM »



Which psalms should you memorize? Memorize the ones that strike your heart as you are
reading them. Each person will find different psalms to be more effective for himself. Begin with
Have mercy on me, O God (Psalm 50); then Bless the Lord, O my soul (Psalm 102); and Praise the
Lord, O my Soul (Psalm 145). These latter two are the antiphon hymns in the Liturgy. There are
also the psalms in the Canon for Divine Communion: The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 22); The
earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof (Psalm 23); I believed, wherefore I spake (Psalm 115); and
the first psalm of the evening vigil, O God, be attentive unto helping me (Psalm 69). There are the
psalms of the hours, and the like. Read the Psalter and select.

After you have memorized all of these, you will always be fully armed with prayer. When some
disturbing thought occurs, rush to fall down before the Lord with either a short prayer or one
of the psalms, especially O God, be attentive unto helping me, and the disturbing cloud will
immediately disperse.

There you are; everything on the subject of a prayer rule. I will, however, mention once again
that you should remember that all these are aids, and the most important thing is standing
before God with the mind in the heart with devotion and heartfelt prostration to Him.

I will repeat once again that the essence of prayer is the lifting of the mind and heart to God;
these little rules are an aid. We cannot get by without them because of our weakness. May the
Lord bless you!

Excerpted from The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned to It
(Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1996).
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2009, 07:42:50 AM »

This is why I love Orthodoxy; practical sound advice that makes coming to Christ so simple.

Thank you Father for posting this.
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2009, 02:52:28 AM »

Here is something I share with the Catechumen in my Orthopraxis Class  in my home parish:

Prayer is learned only by praying. A good way to learn how to pray is to use the words of the Lords Prayer.  This prayer is the example of pure prayer.

It contains the three elements of prayer: Praising, Thanking, and Asking  (for ourselves in petition and for others in intercession).  By putting ourselves into the words of the prayer, we learn what we must pray for the Holy Spirit will reveal it to us.

“For you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you…for all who are led by the Spirit are sons of God…when we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’  it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God… for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the  Spirit Himself intercedes with us with sighs too deep for words…” (Romans Cool


An excellent prayer rule that is simple to follow is the use of the Antiochian Archdiocese’s little Prayer Book.  It has divided a short prayer cycle to be used three times a day that includes an abbreviated morning, noon, and evening prayers.

To those who wish a slightly more complicated rule but is still developed for those in a busy industrial society, you may wish to use the prayer rule of St. Seraphim of Sarov:
" 1)Upon rising from sleep, let each Christian, standing before the holy icons, read the prayer "Our Father" thrice, in honor of the Most Holy Trinity.
   2) Then the song of the Mother of God: "Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos Mary, full of grace…" also thrice.
   3) In conclusion the Creed: "I believe…" — once. Completing such a rule, let each Orthodox engage in his duties, to which he is assigned or called. During his work at home or along the way anywhere he should quietly say "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me, a sinner," but if others surround him, then, while busy with his duties, let him only say in his mind "Lord, have mercy," — and thus until lunch. Right before lunch let him repeat the morning rule. After lunch, busy with his work, let every Christian say just as quietly: "Most Holy Mother of God, save me, a sinner." When preparing for sleep, let every Christian again read the morning rule, i.e., "Our Father" thrice, "Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos Mary" thrice and once "I believe."

St. Seraphim explained that, keeping to this small "rule," one may attain a measure of Christian perfection, because these three prayers — are the foundation of Christianity. The first, as the prayer given by the Lord Himself, is the pattern for all prayers. The second was brought from Heaven by the Archangel as he greeted the Mother of God. The Creed contains in itself all the important dogmas of the Christian faith.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, Who art in the heavens, 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Hymn to the Most-holy Theotokos
O Theotokos and Virgin, rejoice, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with Thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls.

The Symbol of our Faith
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.  And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father; by Whom all things were made; Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from the heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man; And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; And arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures; And ascended into the heavens, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; And shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life; Who proceedeth from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the prophets. In One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come.  Amen.

Memorizing the Psalms.
It is good, very good, to memorize several psalms and recite them while you are working or between tasks, doing this instead of short prayers sometimes, with concentration. This is one of the most ancient Christian customs, mentioned by and included in the rules of St. Pachomius and St. Anthony.

Which psalms should you memorize? Memorize the ones that strike your heart as you are reading them. Each person will find different psalms to be more effective for himself. Begin with Have mercy on me, O God (Psalm 50); then Bless the Lord, O my soul (Psalm 102); and Praise the Lord, O my Soul (Psalm 145). These latter two are the antiphon hymns in the Liturgy. There are also the psalms in the Canon for Divine Communion: The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 22); The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof (Psalm 23); I believed, wherefore I spake (Psalm 115); and the first psalm of the evening vigil, O God, be attentive unto helping me (Psalm 69).

I hope that you will find this helpful; as you develop a personal prayer rule with your spiritual father.

Thomas
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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2009, 04:20:20 PM »

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, Who art in the heavens, 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Where exactly is the thanking element?
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2009, 04:50:32 PM »

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, Who art in the heavens, 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Where exactly is the thanking element?

"Hallowed be thy name."  It's less direct than "Thank you, Lord," but has the same intent.
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2009, 05:21:54 PM »

"Hallowed be thy name."  It's less direct than "Thank you, Lord," but has the same intent.
Thakns, now I see it. Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2009, 07:24:42 PM »

Is it possible to have this thread pinned?
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2009, 07:53:38 PM »

Thank you Irish Hermit for this topic and the posts.  The data is most pertinent to me.  I've gotten very lax in adhering to my customary prayer rule, under demonic influence probably, at a time when I am enjoying exceptionally substantial blessings from our Lord.  This will help inspire a return to my prayer rule, hopefully.  It's especially timely on the eve of the beginning of the Triodion Period this year.
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« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2009, 05:22:00 PM »

Wouldn't praying the Small Compline be a good starting point for a prayer rule.
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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2009, 05:24:43 PM »

Wouldn't praying the Small Compline be a good starting point for a prayer rule.
Maybe for night owls like me. Grin
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2009, 07:21:19 PM »

Wouldn't praying the Small Compline be a good starting point for a prayer rule.
Maybe for night owls like me. Grin

Any links for the small compline.

Thanks in advance
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« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2009, 08:39:24 PM »

Small Compline

As a Reader Service

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/compline.htm  Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2009, 08:56:36 PM »

Small Compline

As a Reader Service

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/compline.htm  Smiley

What exactly is the small compline used for?

Is it meant to be used as an evening prayer service or morning prayer service?
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« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2009, 11:02:14 PM »

Small Compline

As a Reader Service

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/compline.htm  Smiley

What exactly is the small compline used for?

Is it meant to be used as an evening prayer service or morning prayer service?
Compline is actually intended for use after dinner and before bedtime (for most people, 8 p.m. or thereabouts).  For the morning we have Matins, and for the early evening, Vespers.
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« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2009, 06:51:38 PM »

Fr Steven Allen has a fantastic guide on establishing regular prayer; you can find it at www.saint-spyridon.com, under "Notebook". He says (and he got this from an old Russian bishop, not sure who) that the key is struggling for attention and spending the same time every day. This is how you get started. Do not make it too long, even if at first that seems better. Talk about it in more detail with your spiritual father, of course.
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« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2009, 08:34:13 AM »

Thank you Irish Hermit for this topic and the posts.  The data is most pertinent to me.  I've gotten very lax in adhering to my customary prayer rule, under demonic influence probably, at a time when I am enjoying exceptionally substantial blessings from our Lord.  This will help inspire a return to my prayer rule, hopefully.  It's especially timely on the eve of the beginning of the Triodion Period this year.

I believe this is a very common problem with many people during times of great blessings from our Lord. We all should know that a strong consistent prayer life is a thorn in demonics sides.  I know for me when I stop having my heart and mind on the Lord is usually when I fall into sin, and even at times I feel under pressure to sin during (which is very frustrating) prayer.   My prayer life I believe is the main reason I was drawn to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2009, 11:25:47 PM »


Thank you for this information. As new to the faith this has really blessed me.
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« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2009, 11:51:26 PM »

The best advice I have received about prayer rules was by my Parish Priest/Spiritual Father and is also echoed in this posting by Priest Andrew Phillips on the Orthodox England website: http://www.orthodoxengland.org.uk/qa3.htm

Quote
Question

Perhaps these questions could be also useful for your readers? I raise them because of possible misinterpretations I myself have made when reading spiritual teachers (ex. St. Theophan the Recluse) as well issues related to those who may present themselves as a "spiritual father."

For laypeople, what prayer rule do you most commonly recommend? The prescribed morning and evening prayers?

Are prayer rules such as those of St. Seraphim of Sarov for "busy people" applicable in only a limited context?

As a Confessor, what has been your experience in helping laypeople establish a prayer rule?

Answer

It is very simple. Follow the prayer book. That belongs to the Church, not to individuals, who set themselves up as 'spiritual fathers'. Morning and evening prayers, and force yourselves to do them day in, day out.

If in a hurry in the morning, read them on the way to work or substitute with the Jesus Prayer, said secretly and without any display of prayer knots (which are to be kept in the pocket), not showily wound around wrists as decoration). Alternatively get up earlier!

Prayer rules are for monasteries. Folow the Church. It is simple, do not invent things that the Church has not appointed.

Fr Andrew
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« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2009, 12:05:06 AM »

The best advice I have received about prayer rules was by my Parish Priest/Spiritual Father and is also echoed in this posting by Priest Andrew Phillips on the Orthodox England website: http://www.orthodoxengland.org.uk/qa3.htm

Quote
Question

Perhaps these questions could be also useful for your readers? I raise them because of possible misinterpretations I myself have made when reading spiritual teachers (ex. St. Theophan the Recluse) as well issues related to those who may present themselves as a "spiritual father."

For laypeople, what prayer rule do you most commonly recommend? The prescribed morning and evening prayers?

Are prayer rules such as those of St. Seraphim of Sarov for "busy people" applicable in only a limited context?

As a Confessor, what has been your experience in helping laypeople establish a prayer rule?

Answer

It is very simple. Follow the prayer book. That belongs to the Church, not to individuals, who set themselves up as 'spiritual fathers'. Morning and evening prayers, and force yourselves to do them day in, day out.

If in a hurry in the morning, read them on the way to work or substitute with the Jesus Prayer, said secretly and without any display of prayer knots (which are to be kept in the pocket), not showily wound around wrists as decoration). Alternatively get up earlier!

Prayer rules are for monasteries. Folow the Church. It is simple, do not invent things that the Church has not appointed.

Fr Andrew

Thank you.

Question: Why do we pray to saints and not just Christ?
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« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2009, 12:29:51 AM »

Question: Why do we pray to saints and not just Christ?

We pray for the help and prayers of the Saints because they can be helpful, and God has chosen in the past to use them to benefit us.  The practice of asking ancestors to pray to God for us is as old as Judaism, but we also have concrete examples of those who have departed this present life helping us by God's grace (like the bones of Elisha).  They are helpers that God uses to bless us, and as models of God-fearing life - by using so many different people as intermediaries, He demonstrates the many paths to holiness that are possible.  They don't replace prayer to Christ, they just augment it: instead of one voice praying for you, there can be thousands, millions even.
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« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2009, 12:37:39 AM »

Just to add an additional resource to the accurate and succinct answer given by Fr. George:

Quote
Our Intercessors in Heaven
By Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

During baptism, a person is given a name in honor of one of the saints, who from that moment becomes his heavenly patron. Each Orthodox Christian should know the "life" — the history — of his heavenly patron and turn to him in prayer for help and guidance. Our devout ancestors tried to commemorate the day of their saint’s memory — "the angel’s day" — by partaking of the Holy Communion and celebrating this day more festively than their birthday.

What is the meaning of the orthodox reverence of the holy servants of God? Do the saints in Heaven know of our needs and difficulties and are they interested in us? Do they hear our prayers to them and do they try to help us? Indeed should we turn to saints for help, or is it enough to pray only to the Lord God? Sectarians, who have lost the apostolic traditions, do not understand the essence and purpose of Christ’s Church and thus deny the necessity of prayers to the saints in Heaven. We will briefly outline herein the Orthodox teaching concerning this.

Orthodox reverence of the holy servants of God comes from the conviction that all of us, those seeking salvation or those already saved, living and dead, form a single family of God. The Church is a great society, encompassing the visible and invisible world. It is a huge, universal organization, built on the principle of love, in which each member must care not only about himself, but about the well-being and salvation of others. Saints are those people which during their life more than others expressed love to others.

We orthodox believe that, when a righteous person dies, he does not sever his ties with the Church, but crosses over to its higher, heavenly domain — into the Church triumphant. Once in the spiritual world, the soul of the righteous person does not stop thinking, wanting, feeling. Just the opposite, these characteristics are revealed more fully and completely.

Modern non-Orthodox Christians, having lost the active connection with the heavenly-earthly Church, have the most vague and contradicting ideas concerning the afterlife. Some of them think that after death the soul of the person falls asleep and is as though shut off from everything; others — that the soul of a person, even if it continues its activity after death, does not concern itself with the world which it has departed. Others — that as a matter of principle one should not pray to saints, because a Christian has direct association with God.

What is the teaching of the Holy Scriptures concerning the righteous who have departed the earthly world, and the power of their prayers? In apostolic times the Church was considered as one Heavenly/earthly spiritual family. The Apostle Paul wrote to newly-converted Christians: "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12:22-23). In other words, you, by becoming Christians, have joined a great family and come into close contact with the heavenly world and with the righteous who are found therein. The parting words of the Apostle Peter — "Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance" (2 Peter 1:15) — clearly attest to the fact that he promises to continue to care about them from that spiritual world.

The ancient practice of turning to the holy martyrs and servants of God for help is based on the recognition of the active association of the Heavenly-earthly Church and on the basis of faith in the power of prayer.

Read the entire text here: http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/saints_b_alexander_e.htm#n1
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« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2010, 08:39:51 AM »

Question: Why do we pray to saints and not just Christ?

We pray for the help and prayers of the Saints because they can be helpful, and God has chosen in the past to use them to benefit us.  The practice of asking ancestors to pray to God for us is as old as Judaism, but we also have concrete examples of those who have departed this present life helping us by God's grace (like the bones of Elisha).  They are helpers that God uses to bless us, and as models of God-fearing life - by using so many different people as intermediaries, He demonstrates the many paths to holiness that are possible.  They don't replace prayer to Christ, they just augment it: instead of one voice praying for you, there can be thousands, millions even.

Thank you Fr. George
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« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2010, 08:40:43 AM »

Just to add an additional resource to the accurate and succinct answer given by Fr. George:

Quote
Our Intercessors in Heaven
By Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

During baptism, a person is given a name in honor of one of the saints, who from that moment becomes his heavenly patron. Each Orthodox Christian should know the "life" — the history — of his heavenly patron and turn to him in prayer for help and guidance. Our devout ancestors tried to commemorate the day of their saint’s memory — "the angel’s day" — by partaking of the Holy Communion and celebrating this day more festively than their birthday.

What is the meaning of the orthodox reverence of the holy servants of God? Do the saints in Heaven know of our needs and difficulties and are they interested in us? Do they hear our prayers to them and do they try to help us? Indeed should we turn to saints for help, or is it enough to pray only to the Lord God? Sectarians, who have lost the apostolic traditions, do not understand the essence and purpose of Christ’s Church and thus deny the necessity of prayers to the saints in Heaven. We will briefly outline herein the Orthodox teaching concerning this.

Orthodox reverence of the holy servants of God comes from the conviction that all of us, those seeking salvation or those already saved, living and dead, form a single family of God. The Church is a great society, encompassing the visible and invisible world. It is a huge, universal organization, built on the principle of love, in which each member must care not only about himself, but about the well-being and salvation of others. Saints are those people which during their life more than others expressed love to others.

We orthodox believe that, when a righteous person dies, he does not sever his ties with the Church, but crosses over to its higher, heavenly domain — into the Church triumphant. Once in the spiritual world, the soul of the righteous person does not stop thinking, wanting, feeling. Just the opposite, these characteristics are revealed more fully and completely.

Modern non-Orthodox Christians, having lost the active connection with the heavenly-earthly Church, have the most vague and contradicting ideas concerning the afterlife. Some of them think that after death the soul of the person falls asleep and is as though shut off from everything; others — that the soul of a person, even if it continues its activity after death, does not concern itself with the world which it has departed. Others — that as a matter of principle one should not pray to saints, because a Christian has direct association with God.

What is the teaching of the Holy Scriptures concerning the righteous who have departed the earthly world, and the power of their prayers? In apostolic times the Church was considered as one Heavenly/earthly spiritual family. The Apostle Paul wrote to newly-converted Christians: "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12:22-23). In other words, you, by becoming Christians, have joined a great family and come into close contact with the heavenly world and with the righteous who are found therein. The parting words of the Apostle Peter — "Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance" (2 Peter 1:15) — clearly attest to the fact that he promises to continue to care about them from that spiritual world.

The ancient practice of turning to the holy martyrs and servants of God for help is based on the recognition of the active association of the Heavenly-earthly Church and on the basis of faith in the power of prayer.

Read the entire text here: http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/saints_b_alexander_e.htm#n1

Thank you, most enlightening.
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« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2010, 01:02:33 PM »

Thanks a lot, I was just thinking today about organizing my prayers. This is going to be some helpful. I often get carried away by Archaic English though and I fail to learn them in Ancient Greek. Bah, the feelings are still the same!
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« Reply #26 on: January 19, 2010, 07:12:34 AM »

Very helpful Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2010, 01:39:50 AM »

I like the "A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers if you want a good all around prayer book or the A Pocket Prayer Book for Orthodox Christian if you are busy as the prayers are short, sweet and to the point. When praying during the day you can always use the Jesus Prayer.... It helps in times of temptation and when under stress.....
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« Reply #28 on: July 13, 2010, 10:21:16 AM »

St. Theophan:  I would consider the morning and evening prayers as set out in the prayer books to be entirely sufficient for you.

Dan:  Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov's "Morning and Evening Prayer Rules in the Russian Orthodox Tradition" may be of some interest for providing a historical perspective.
St. John Chrysostom also mentions what appears to be a prayer-rule in a homily on Colossians.  He said he knew
 
a certain holy man who prayeth thus. He used to say nothing before these words, but thus, "We give Thee thanks for all Thy benefits bestowed upon us the unworthy, from the first day until the present, for what we know, and what we know not, for the seen, for the unseen, for those in deed, those in word, those with our wills, those against our wills, for all that have been bestowed upon the unworthy, even us; for tribulations, for refreshments, for hell, for punishment, for the kingdom of heaven. We beseech Thee to keep our soul holy, having a pure conscience; an end worthy of thy lovingkindness. Thou that lovedst us so as to give Thy Only-Begotten for us, grant us to become worthy of Thy love; give us wisdom in Thy word, and in Thy fear. Only-Begotten Christ, inspire the strength that is from Thee. Thou that gavest The Only-Begotten for us, and hast sent Thy Holy Spirit for the remission of our sins, if in aught we have wilfully or unwillingly transgressed, pardon, and impute it not. Remember all that call upon Thy Name in truth; remember all that wish us well, or the contrary, for we are all men." Then having added the Prayer of the Faithful [i.e., the Our Father], he there ended; having made that prayer, as a certain crowning part, and a binding together for all.
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« Reply #29 on: November 03, 2010, 09:05:48 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I recommend highly the Coptic Orthodox prayer book the Agpeya, the Book of the Hours.  It is a common prayer book amongst Christendom, both Latin and Orthodox, but the Coptic version is particularly ancient in status and is one of the origins.  It is said that in the deserts in Egypt the Desert Fathers first composed the ordered prayers with the psalter we know as the Book of the Hours in several traditions.  The Agpeya today is the modern version, with a series of psalms, litanies, supplications, hymns, absolutions and other common prayers of the Coptic Church.  There is is the central prayer book in all services, and whether they be baptisms, funerals, Liturgies, offerings or vigils usually the Agpeya prayers accompany the others used.  

I have been using it for years now, and honestly I wouldn't know what to do without it.  The Tewahedo Church uses the Se'at, but there is no English translation which is why I chant the Agpeya, which is readily available.  It is by far the most thorough and complete of any prayer books I have come across from any of the traditions.

It has Seven Canonical Hours, in relation to Christ's Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection with 12 Psalms appointed for each hour, a Gospel reading, six litanies, the Lord Have Mercies, Trisiagon, Absolution, Ending of the Hour.  

Starting small and taking it slowly on a carte blanc pick and choose kind of way, this prayer book really begins to readjust our daily lives towards to rhythms and cycles of the prayerful life of the Fathers, and helps a person begin to make sense of the world and our daily routines in Christ.

Stay Blessed,
Habte Selassie
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« Reply #30 on: November 04, 2010, 01:07:53 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I recommend highly the Coptic Orthodox prayer book the Agpeya, the Book of the Hours.  It is a common prayer book amongst Christendom, both Latin and Orthodox, but the Coptic version is particularly ancient in status and is one of the origins.  It is said that in the deserts in Egypt the Desert Fathers first composed the ordered prayers with the psalter we know as the Book of the Hours in several traditions.  The Agpeya today is the modern version, with a series of psalms, litanies, supplications, hymns, absolutions and other common prayers of the Coptic Church.  There is is the central prayer book in all services, and whether they be baptisms, funerals, Liturgies, offerings or vigils usually the Agpeya prayers accompany the others used.  

I have been using it for years now, and honestly I wouldn't know what to do without it.  The Tewahedo Church uses the Se'at, but there is no English translation which is why I chant the Agpeya, which is readily available.  It is by far the most thorough and complete of any prayer books I have come across from any of the traditions.

It has Seven Canonical Hours, in relation to Christ's Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection with 12 Psalms appointed for each hour, a Gospel reading, six litanies, the Lord Have Mercies, Trisiagon, Absolution, Ending of the Hour.  

Starting small and taking it slowly on a carte blanc pick and choose kind of way, this prayer book really begins to readjust our daily lives towards to rhythms and cycles of the prayerful life of the Fathers, and helps a person begin to make sense of the world and our daily routines in Christ.

Stay Blessed,
Habte Selassie

I am glad to hear that you have been using it so long...I feel like most prayer books "burn out" after a while. I think using the hours services (perhaps shortened to fit a person's abilities) is really the best way to go in the long run. I have an Agpeya, and it is the main book I use. It is truly wonderful, and it is small enough to be carried everywhere.
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« Reply #31 on: November 14, 2010, 09:24:43 PM »

This is a wonderful thread.  There are so many thoughtful and helpful posts regarding a daily prayer rule. 

Prior to, and since becoming Orthodox, I acquired several prayer books to use for daily prayer.  They are all very similar in their format, (Jordanville, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, the little red prayerbook, St. Tikhon's, etc.) and, as I prayed each day, morning and evening, I varied the books I would use to have a little variety.

Though I am in the Serbian Church, last month I became aware of the St. Philip's Prayer Discipline that is part of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine of the Antiochian Archdiocese.  For $25.00 I joined and received "A Beginner's Guide to Prayer," by Fr. Michael Keiser, along with the St. Philip's Prayer Manual.

I am finding both very useful in my prayer life; the manual has morning, mid-day, and evening prayers for each day of the week with variable parts for each day, which is a really nice feature.  The Saturday evening and Sunday prayers are different than those used on the weekdays.

This discipline has given me more structure to my daily prayers, and I am grateful that I happened upon it.
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« Reply #32 on: November 14, 2010, 09:29:02 PM »

If anyone is interested in investigating the St. Philip's Prayer Discipline, here is a link:

http://www.stphilipsprayerdiscipline.org/about.php
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« Reply #33 on: January 15, 2011, 02:19:28 AM »

http://www.northumbriacommunity.org/pray-the-daily-office
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« Reply #34 on: January 17, 2011, 11:16:06 PM »

I'm not sure if I would recommend that. They look to be some independent group without any link to a canonical Orthodox body. :/

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #35 on: January 19, 2011, 04:06:34 PM »

There are morning and evening prayers in the back of the Orthodox Study Bible, too.
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« Reply #36 on: January 21, 2011, 12:52:25 AM »

For my evening prayers I've been using the Jordanville Prayer Book. But I've been wondering... are you supposed to read each consecutive prayer or to say just a few? I've been saying each, but many of them seem to be different only in wording.
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« Reply #37 on: January 21, 2011, 01:03:56 AM »

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, Who art in the heavens, 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Where exactly is the thanking element?

It's probably more thankful if the interpolated doxology is added.
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« Reply #38 on: January 21, 2011, 01:07:13 AM »

Question: Why do we pray to saints and not just Christ?

Because their intercession has been objectively shown to the Church on numerous occasions to be efficacious. It has become clear to us that God desires the incorporation of His Saints in His Work.
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« Reply #39 on: January 21, 2011, 01:08:50 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I recommend highly the Coptic Orthodox prayer book the Agpeya, the Book of the Hours.  It is a common prayer book amongst Christendom, both Latin and Orthodox, but the Coptic version is particularly ancient in status and is one of the origins.  It is said that in the deserts in Egypt the Desert Fathers first composed the ordered prayers with the psalter we know as the Book of the Hours in several traditions.  The Agpeya today is the modern version, with a series of psalms, litanies, supplications, hymns, absolutions and other common prayers of the Coptic Church.  There is is the central prayer book in all services, and whether they be baptisms, funerals, Liturgies, offerings or vigils usually the Agpeya prayers accompany the others used.  

I have been using it for years now, and honestly I wouldn't know what to do without it.  The Tewahedo Church uses the Se'at, but there is no English translation which is why I chant the Agpeya, which is readily available.  It is by far the most thorough and complete of any prayer books I have come across from any of the traditions.

It has Seven Canonical Hours, in relation to Christ's Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection with 12 Psalms appointed for each hour, a Gospel reading, six litanies, the Lord Have Mercies, Trisiagon, Absolution, Ending of the Hour.  

Starting small and taking it slowly on a carte blanc pick and choose kind of way, this prayer book really begins to readjust our daily lives towards to rhythms and cycles of the prayerful life of the Fathers, and helps a person begin to make sense of the world and our daily routines in Christ.

Stay Blessed,
Habte Selassie

That's cool that you use the Coptic Agpeya.
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« Reply #40 on: January 21, 2011, 01:10:37 AM »

I'm not sure if I would recommend that. They look to be some independent group without any link to a canonical Orthodox body. :/

In Christ,
Andrew

Why are the prayers of a non-canonical group so much more dangerous than that of a Non-Chalcedonian group? (noting that no one spoke up when Rufus says he uses the Agpeya)  Huh
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« Reply #41 on: January 21, 2011, 02:29:56 AM »

I'm not sure if I would recommend that. They look to be some independent group without any link to a canonical Orthodox body. :/

In Christ,
Andrew

Why are the prayers of a non-canonical group so much more dangerous than that of a Non-Chalcedonian group? (noting that no one spoke up when Rufus says he uses the Agpeya)  Huh

They are dangerous because they convey something out of whack with Christianity and if used constantly will create in the soul a wrong apprehension of God.

Eaxmples:

1.  Orthodox prayer is suffused with worship of the Trinity.  This is usually almost completely absent from modern Protestant prayer forms.  They create the impression that God is a kind of benevolent Creator and Sustainer whose main worry for you is that you learn ecolological awareness and don't litter the beach.

2.  Orthodox prayer is also suffused with the worship of Christ as God.   Many mainstream Christians are not convinced of His divinity and so they tend not to mention Him too much in modern prayer.

3.  Veneration and warmth and prayer to the Mother of God , your Guardian Angel and the Saints --- forget it!

etc.

Don't use these prayer books.  Find an Orthodox prayer book which you like and stick with it.

If you want to add something like a Celtic touch to your prayers, find some of the many prayers from the ancient Saints of Ireland.  They share the same sentiments as modern Orthodox prayers.  Add them into your Orthodox prayer book.
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« Reply #42 on: May 29, 2011, 07:49:54 PM »

Wouldn't praying the Small Compline be a good starting point for a prayer rule.

IMO, the Church's liturgical services are public prayer, and not suitable for private use. The reader version of services is intended to be performed publicly in parishes or monasteries without an ordained priest, and even then, only with the blessing of the local bishop. Privately, or in the family at home, if we can't be in church for the public services, we read morning and evening prayers and, perhaps, a canon or akathist. But what is far more ancient than the modern prayer books (which have only been in widespread use since the 19th century), and, I find, more sustainable, is to read the psalter. Here is what St. Basil has to say about it:

"David says, Wait thou on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall promote thee, that thou shalt possess the land [Psalm 36:34]; so let not a single day pass without singing from the Psalter. If, for some reason, you are obliged to set it aside, mark the place, and begin again the next morning, not stopping out of slothfulness."

When St. John Chrysostom was asked, “Is it good to lay aside the Psalter?” He replied, “It would be better for the sun to fall from its orbit, than to neglect reading the Psalter, for it is of great benefit to study the psalms, and to read the Psalter diligently. For all books are profitable for us, and grieve the demons, but there is none like the Psalter.”

We can see from these two quotations that the fathers of old considered daily Psalter reading to be essential for Christians, and the desert fathers also considered the recitation of the psalter to be the essence of Christian prayer. So, instead of struggling with prayer books and rules, just begin with the Jesus Prayer and "O heavenly King" through to the Lord's Prayer. Then, having said, "O come let us worship" just begin with Psalm 1 and work your way through to the end, marking where you stop, morning and evening. Ideally, one would get through the whole psalter every week, but the most important is just to read some portion every day, and when you are finished, begin again. If you add to this a daily reading from the Scriptures and the Lives of the Saints, your prayer life will be rich, indeed.

David James
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« Reply #43 on: May 30, 2011, 12:04:24 PM »

Wouldn't praying the Small Compline be a good starting point for a prayer rule.

IMO, the Church's liturgical services are public prayer, and not suitable for private use. The reader version of services is intended to be performed publicly in parishes or monasteries without an ordained priest, and even then, only with the blessing of the local bishop. Privately, or in the family at home, if we can't be in church for the public services, we read morning and evening prayers and, perhaps, a canon or akathist. But what is far more ancient than the modern prayer books (which have only been in widespread use since the 19th century), and, I find, more sustainable, is to read the psalter. Here is what St. Basil has to say about it:

"David says, Wait thou on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall promote thee, that thou shalt possess the land [Psalm 36:34]; so let not a single day pass without singing from the Psalter. If, for some reason, you are obliged to set it aside, mark the place, and begin again the next morning, not stopping out of slothfulness."

When St. John Chrysostom was asked, “Is it good to lay aside the Psalter?” He replied, “It would be better for the sun to fall from its orbit, than to neglect reading the Psalter, for it is of great benefit to study the psalms, and to read the Psalter diligently. For all books are profitable for us, and grieve the demons, but there is none like the Psalter.”

We can see from these two quotations that the fathers of old considered daily Psalter reading to be essential for Christians, and the desert fathers also considered the recitation of the psalter to be the essence of Christian prayer. So, instead of struggling with prayer books and rules, just begin with the Jesus Prayer and "O heavenly King" through to the Lord's Prayer. Then, having said, "O come let us worship" just begin with Psalm 1 and work your way through to the end, marking where you stop, morning and evening. Ideally, one would get through the whole psalter every week, but the most important is just to read some portion every day, and when you are finished, begin again. If you add to this a daily reading from the Scriptures and the Lives of the Saints, your prayer life will be rich, indeed.

David James

I actually concur strongly with this. I myself have basically ditched the prayer books, and I now pray the Psalms of the hours regularly, and others intermittently. Memorizing them is very beneficial, because it allows us to understand the words more deeply, and makes prayer less laborious (you don't need to be dragging books around).
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« Reply #44 on: May 30, 2011, 04:24:19 PM »

Additionally you can find cd's of the psalms being sung. While listening it helps you memorize them at the same time.
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