Author Topic: Orans Prayer Position  (Read 3633 times)

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Offline Maria

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Orans Prayer Position
« on: June 30, 2011, 01:25:19 AM »
. . .


Notice the Orans position (hands joined pointed to heaven) in this well-known picture of the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe.

Is this particular way of prayer strictly used in Catholicism and in Protestantism?

Isn't the joined hands a sign of Protestantism?

What is the origin of this position of prayer? I remember reading that St. Dominic Guzman used this form of prayer and advocated its use before the Protestant Reformation.

I have not seen its use in Orthodoxy.

p.s. I got stung by a bee yesterday afternoon, and so I am still quite drowsy with a swollen eye.
So please forgive me if I have made any mistakes in this post.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2011, 01:27:20 AM by Maria »
The memory of God should be treasured in our hearts like the precious pearl mentioned in the Holy Gospel. Our life's goal should be to nurture and contemplate God always within, and never let it depart, for this steadfastness will drive demons away from us. - Paraphrased from St. Philotheus of Sinai
Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart,
Translated from the Russian by E. Kadloubovksy and G.E.H. Palmer, Faber and Faber, London, Boston, 1992 printing.

Offline Wyatt

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2011, 01:29:58 AM »
Interesting. I just thought this was a universal posture for prayer. I didn't realize there was any group of Christianity (except maybe the Pentecostals who prefer to raise their hands) that never use this position.

Offline Salpy

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2011, 01:33:48 AM »
I think "orans" refers to the arms and hands outstretched during prayer:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orans

That is more common in the east than having the hands together.

Offline Maria

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2011, 02:04:04 AM »
I think "orans" refers to the arms and hands outstretched during prayer:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orans

That is more common in the east than having the hands together.

I think you are correct; however, my brain is foggy with bee venom.

What is the prayer position called with the hands joined and pointed heavenward?
And is this posture of prayer used in Orthodoxy? Are any saints depicted in Icons praying this way with hands together?

If we can find the correct terminology, could you kindly change the title for me?
« Last Edit: June 30, 2011, 02:05:15 AM by Maria »
The memory of God should be treasured in our hearts like the precious pearl mentioned in the Holy Gospel. Our life's goal should be to nurture and contemplate God always within, and never let it depart, for this steadfastness will drive demons away from us. - Paraphrased from St. Philotheus of Sinai
Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart,
Translated from the Russian by E. Kadloubovksy and G.E.H. Palmer, Faber and Faber, London, Boston, 1992 printing.

Offline Salpy

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2011, 02:15:09 AM »
I don't know what it is called.  I just call it "hands together."   :D

I think Russians tend to pray with their hands at their sides.  At least that is what I have observed.  Other eastern Christians tend to have the hands in front, palms up, which is kind of the orans position.

You'll see the "hands together" position a little bit among the Armenians.  Some do it because they see the Catholics doing it.  Also, there is a tradition among Armenians to have the hands together during the Nicene Creed and another prayer called Park ee Partsoonts (Glory in the highest.)  In this context it symbolizes unity of faith.

I think Indian Orthodox Christians pray with their hands together, but that may be cultural.

Offline Orthodox11

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2011, 04:03:59 AM »
Is this particular way of prayer strictly used in Catholicism and in Protestantism?

Isn't the joined hands a sign of Protestantism?

It's a sign of Western/Latin Christianity. You won't find any Orthodox icon depicting the saints in such a position, although there are plenty showing them in the orans position. The same is true of patristic descriptions of postures during prayer.

Like Salpy said, it is not uncommon in the Armenian Church, but the Armenian liturgical tradition has considerable Catholic influences, which makes it more of an anomaly.

Offline Ioannis Climacus

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2011, 05:19:46 AM »
From what I understand, this prayer posture actually predates the schism. It comes from the medieval commendation ceremony (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commendation_ceremony). In this, the vassal would swear an oath of fealty to a particular lord. The vassal's submission was emphasized by his posture towards the lord : kneeling with hands pressed together. This would later become common in prayer due to its understood symbolic nature. Prayer is indeed a submission to the Lord.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2011, 09:00:13 AM »
Oddly, the "hands together" position is also common among Buddhists and Hindus.

Offline biro

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2011, 10:52:26 PM »
Is it okay to use the 'orans' and/or the 'hands together' posture when praying at home? I often pray with hands clasped. I guess it's an old habit.

Offline sainthieu

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2011, 04:12:09 PM »
The Orans position is one of the very first found in the catacombs.

Also.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2011, 04:16:02 PM by sainthieu »

Offline Salpy

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2011, 04:41:50 PM »
Is it okay to use the 'orans' and/or the 'hands together' posture when praying at home? I often pray with hands clasped. I guess it's an old habit.

I would imagine that as long as your prayers are sincere, God would not mind how you hold your hands when you pray at home.   :) 

Offline J.M.C

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2011, 05:47:58 PM »
As mentioned, the "arms-outstretched", Orans, position is the most common form of prayer in the Church throughout history. The only way of holding your hands in prayer I can think of which might not be appropriate is the "fingers-crossed" position.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2011, 05:52:27 PM by J.M.C »
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Offline ilyazhito

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2011, 06:08:07 PM »
 I understand. What's that? Can you show me a photo of that, or give me a link?

Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2011, 06:52:45 PM »
The only way of holding your hands in prayer I can think of which might not be appropriate is the "fingers-crossed" position.

Possibly odd, but this is also a Christian symbol. The crossing of ones fingers when stating something one was "wishing" developed as a way of petitioning God for that thing, making the sign of the cross with one's fingers. It's analogous to one of us stating something we wish to happen (or not happen) and then crossing ourselves.

I do not know how crossing ones fingers when lying, which is probably what you are referring to here, developed, or whether or not it is related.
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Offline orthonorm

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Re: Orans Prayer Position
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2011, 06:57:04 PM »
In our parish it seems the few who do the arms out position (prayer antennas as my friend refers to it) are former evangelicals and only do it during the Lord's Prayer.

Well that is, other than the Priest of course.

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