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Protokletos
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« on: November 16, 2005, 01:15:56 PM »

How do those of you with families incorporate prayer and Bible reading into your day?  I'm one of those zealous converts who used to get up early and pray the Psalter through each week.  But now that I'm married with a five month old daughter, this obviously does not work and I'm trying to come up with a simpler rule that we can all pray together.  I want my daughter to grow up with the prayers of the Church and passages from the Scripture as a normal routine.  Do you have morning and evening prayers together as a family?  One or the other?  Right after dinner, right before bed, or something else? 

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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2005, 12:21:09 PM »

I'm an Anglican, but I also have a family of 3 children.  (Congratulations on your daughter.  Are you getting much sleep?  Smiley )

Mornings are too full of things like pulling the eldest out of bed by his feet, getting middle one moving, keeping youngest from doing something  ahem "interesting" while we'renot looking and getting breakfast, then getting the lot of them off to 3 different schools at 3 different times.

Having dinner as a family with grace being said and prayers together at bedtime is what we do.  On the rare Sunday that we don't make it to church (snow and such) we have Morning Prayer.


Ebor
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2005, 02:37:11 PM »

I am married but with no children. It's been a rough road to incorporate morning and evening prayers in that state though so I can't imagine with kids--but I know families that do it.  Sometimes one just has to pray at different times than the rest of the family and let the kids do something simpler.  However, using the HTM prayerbook I find that my morning prayers take only 5 minutes and evening prayers are about 12 minutes on average if I don't add on anything to the book.  If I have more time then I might do something else but I think it's important to have a "base" practice for every day.

Anastasios
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2005, 06:21:25 PM »

As a father of 5 children and now 8 grandchildren who are often in my home, my wife and I found that the only time that fully works for the full family for "family Prayer" is in the evening either immediately before or immediately after supper. We had a family rule that everyone (dad included) had to be at home for supper so for us it was the only time we could guarantee everyone was at home for family prayer.ÂÂ  My wife usually held 'morning prayer for the little ones after I went to work (I left about 6:30 every morning---I was in the Military) as they got to be teenagers, they did their own morning prayers but really focused on the eveningÂÂ  Family prayers.ÂÂ  Indeed the kids would get upset if I was home late and missed supper or one of the other kids thought band/sports practice was more important than being home for the family supper with prayers. Even today, being married, if they are invited over for supper, they always preface acceptance with "if I can stay for family prayers".

We of course help individual bed time prayers with each of the children as well, and those two things seem to have gone forward into their homes.ÂÂ  Evening family prayers andÂÂ  evening bedside prayers.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2005, 11:10:04 PM »

Quote
Mornings are too full of things like pulling the eldest out of bed by his feet

It'll get worse before it gets better.  My parents and I didn't seem to agree on me sleeping through my first two classes at least once a week.... even when I told them they were blow off classes 
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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2005, 08:27:39 PM »

Before my daughter was born, I started out doing a simple rule.  Then I joined the Army, and basic training put a stop to my prayer rule (I dare anyone to try to find time to do an actual prayer rule during basic combat training).  To be honest, my prayer life has been all but destroyed during my time in the Army.  There's really not much room for a prayer rule set at a specific time, the way things work here.  It's only going to get worse when I go overseas, too, with such a tumultuous schedule.  The best I can do right now is blessing the food at night, and that's about it.  I think it's affected my life quite a bit, too.  Anyway, sorry I'm unloading, but I haven't really been able to talk abou this with anyone but the priest.  Your prayers would be appreciated.  Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!
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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2005, 05:25:06 PM »

I am a protestant interested in converting.  Saw this topic and had to ask:  some of the posts above indicate that you pray almost by rote, which is strange to a nondenomination Christian who always believed if a prayer is just spoken from memory or read, it is not really valid.  How is prayer really done in Orthodoxy?   Is there any place for each individual formulating their own prayers, or are they in addition to the common daily prayers that are spoken?
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2005, 05:34:36 PM »

I am a protestant interested in converting.  Saw this topic and had to ask:  some of the posts above indicate that you pray almost by rote, which is strange to a nondenomination Christian who always believed if a prayer is just spoken from memory or read, it is not really valid.  How is prayer really done in Orthodoxy?  ÃƒÆ’‚ Is there any place for each individual formulating their own prayers, or are they in addition to the common daily prayers that are spoken?

Any personal prayer must be in addition to a prayer book, formulaic style prayer.  We believe that formulaic prayer is intrinsic to the Christian faith, as it came directly out of Jewish daily prayer (the Shema) and Jesus told us to pray the Our Father as an example.

If you only prayed what came to your mind, you would in effect be in control, and Orthodoxy is about total submission of the will to Jesus Christ.  So, it's important to pray what the Church (Christ's body) wants us to in a cycle.  Personal intercessions and acts of contritition of a more individual nature are surely welcome, but in addition to the formulaic prayers.

I was once a member of a Lutheran Protestant Church, and they valued formulaic prayers as well.  Could you kindly explain for us why non-Denominational Christians are often against formulaic prayers? This has always confused me. I mean sure, if you are just rattling off the prayers rotely you are not doing much good (although developing the discipline is good, even if we are distracted); we agree on that. But that's not what we are doing when we pray forumulaic prayers. For instance, when I pray, I try to "make those prayers my own" so to speak.  I try to reflect as I am praying on how these prayers affect me or apply to me in a personal way--and it's interesting how prayers composed 1500 years ago DO affect me and DO reflect me.

In Christ,

Anastasios
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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2005, 05:52:04 PM »

I think you hit it on the head.  I don't believe a prayer is a prayer unless it is from the heart.  I think other non high church protestants believe that, too.  And at the Divine Liturgy I attended, I felt the service went so fast that the various prayers being said were really just being read as quickly as possible by the pastor.  I am just worried that it is really easy to become an autopilot zombie if you are just reciting prayers from a book.  That being said, I also understand that those type of prayers are very, very effective and valid if said from an attitude of prayer and humility.
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« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2005, 06:14:06 PM »

There is the prayer rule that you come up with under the guidance of a spiritual father, which generally isn't all that overwhelming, and that isn't to say that we don't spend the remainder of the day issuing small prayers and petitions to Christ and The Saints in our own personal way.  The prayer rule is a sign, as previously stated, of submission or obedience to Christ through The Church.  The way it was explained to me was that you can't sort of just say "I think I'll have a little God now" or "I don't feel like any God right now" but you have to devote set times (to the best of your ability, I'm no example with my scattered schedule and life) and a set rule to Christ as a sort of discipline.  But seriously, stop reading what we have to say and talk with a priest about it, or a deacon!  This is the best bet.  Or a monk, if you can find one, but be careful.  Monks are very...uh, heavy, and as a parishoner, you'd probably be better off working this sort of discussion out with a parish priest.  Okay, I'm going to stop before I get too far ahead of myself.  Apologies  Wink
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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2005, 06:19:08 PM »

Very good info, I am in an e-mail  dialogue with an Antiochian Father nearby, have not attended his parish yet, but hope to this Sunday, if I can drag my highly skeptical wife to it.  I have asked him to go to lunch too so I can talk face to face and get my questions answered. Thanks for the info.
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« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2005, 06:39:51 PM »

It'll get worse before it gets better.ÂÂ  My parents and I didn't seem to agree on me sleeping through my first two classes at least once a week.... even when I told them they were blow off classesÂÂ  

 Cheesy Grin Cheesy

It's just a "Parent Thing" I guess.  We're so mean in that area.  (but do they pull you out of bed by your feet or have other methods?)

Ebor
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« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2005, 06:44:43 PM »

Another thing, Searching, I think you might do best in an Antiochian parish, too.  I mean this sincerely, as the two main convert magnets seem to be the OCA and the AOC.  The Antiochian parishes that I've been to seem to have a lot of former evangelicals/non-high church protestants in them, so if that's the background you come from, you may find yourself quite comfortable there, as well as more easily informed by people who understand the kinds of questions and concerns you may have.  It's so different for me, because I was a complete atheist (okay, maybe an agnostic at the end of it all), so I didn't have the same kinds of doctrinal concerns and doubts.  Good luck and God be with you  Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2005, 06:48:34 PM »

Searching-  Sometimes the words in a prayer book are better at saying what we want to pray then what we come up with.  Sometimes they're there even if we don't *feel* like praying.  Pray is like other kinds of exercise or discipline, I think. If people only exercised or studied when they really felt like it, "from the heart" as it were, I'd guess it wouldn't happen nearly as much as it ought. ÂÂ

C. S. Lewis in "The Screwtape Letters" and "Letters To Malcolm" writes about praying.

Ebor
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« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2005, 08:09:18 PM »

Thanks you guys for the great advice.  The Antichian mission church in this area is almost entirely converts and is led by a former NY cop who was originally a charismatic Episcopalian.  He moved down here to take the mission, and is apparently not compensated much if at all,living off his retirement.  I talked to him on the phone Sunday night and he is really nice, and I am trying to convince my wife to at least go to a service with me (she is not much interested in Orthodoxy) on Sunday and give it a try.  One positive is that he said they have pews there,so I won't get a backache (lol) like I did last Sunday when I visited the local OCA parish.
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« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2005, 08:17:12 PM »

One positive is that he said they have pews there,so I won't get a backache (lol) like I did last Sunday when I visited the local OCA parish.

Is outrage!  Wink

Anyways, don't be fooled. Even if there is seating for those that are not sick or elderly, it is still only to be used at a few short instances during the service, if even. You will still be standing most of the time Grin
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« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2005, 08:49:54 PM »

Bizzlebin

I'll just have to hope there is a chiropractor in the congregation! Grin  Seriously, I think his point was that my wife (and anyone, for that matter) will not feel so out of place, and will be able to sit if she wants to.  Just started to check out your website by the way, will look at it some tonight.  Gasp, there might be such thing as an Evangelistic Orthodox person after all. There should be many more of you, you are the ones who were the original evangelists! Smiley

I think the wave of protestant converts may help the Church grow as never before in our part of the world.  We aren't afraid to evangelize as you probably know.

Mike
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« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2005, 10:03:31 AM »

I'll just have to hope there is a chiropractor in the congregation!

Gasp, there might be such thing as an Evangelistic Orthodox person after all. There should be many more of you, you are the ones who were the original evangelists! Smiley

Standing during the service actually increases your attention to God, as you are not tempted to relax and blow it off (if you do you will fall). I think it is one of the things that causes so much reverence in our churches.

We are all supposed to evangelize as much as we can...
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« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2006, 01:35:20 PM »

Gosh I'm late on this...back to family prayer...

I hate to say it, but we don't.   I'm thinking of trying grace before meals.  It's a start.
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« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2006, 03:02:18 PM »

Another late response..but here it goes.

We do evening prayers as a family. Often it is compline from our prayer book. Sometimes we will do a reader's vespers (since my hubby is a reader for 2 more weeks LOL). Sometimes we do an Akathist, especially if it is one of our patronal feast days or a special day for someone.

Our evening prayers take us about 30 minutes. Those who can read each take a part with our oldest son doing the bulk of the reading. Each child does the best he or she can. Sometimes the 2yo and 4yo can be found playing a little but they are all quiet.

After our evening prayers, Nico reads a chapter from "The Law of God" which we then discuss and then the children are able to ask questions.

Since I homeschool, we do a shorter version of morning prayers and then read the Prologue together. The older 2 children do the prescribed Bible reading as part of their schooling.

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« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2006, 01:41:18 AM »

We've had to adjust our prayer life since our daughter was born.  We've got an abbreviated version of Evening Prayers that we do in her room in front of her icons, after her bath, right before we turn off the lights to put her to sleep.  Short and simple, but a good starting point.  We plan to expand the rule as she gets older.

Indeed the kids would get upset if I was home late and missed supper or one of the other kids thought band/sports practice was more important than being home for the family supper with prayers. Even today, being married, if they are invited over for supper, they always preface acceptance with "if I can stay for family prayers".

Thomas, your description of a household of prayer was beautiful.  May God grant my wife and me such a legacy!
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« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2006, 12:27:39 PM »

Hello Searching,

1) Standing - this is the normal posture for all Orthodox prayer, whether it be in Church or not.  However, as you'll find many North American Orthodox Churches will have pews in them - more or less as something picked up from the local Christian denominations (though many would argue it wasn't a "good thing" to pick up.)  If you were to go to the "old world", you'd be very hard pressed to find an Orthodox Church with pews in it.

However, don't feel bad if you feel the need to sit, especially since this is all new for you.  It can take awhile getting used to standing for an entire service.  It'll come on it's own.

2) "Prayer by rote" - Obviously, "ad libbed" prayer of a conversational sort has it's place - but I'd submit that even these are enriched by the use of traditional, standardized prayers, precisely because those prayers not only say something to God when placed upon our lips, but they also (more significantly) say something to us!  By following even a simple prayer rule, one is being conditioned in the mentality held by those who authored those prayers.  Formal prayers you'll find in prayerbooks are typically authored by Saints, who I think have something to teach us.

Something our parish Priest said which went against even my own instincts (and I definatly do not have a low-church or otherwise Protestant background - quite the opposite actually) was that when saying a prayer rule, you should fire through it.  Yes, collect yourself together first - do your best to remove distractions, and be mindful about what you're reading, etc.  But just go through it - kind of get bathed by what you're reading.  IOW, prayer rules, and even liturgical prayers, are very much a matter of immersion and are meant to inform the soul over the long term.  I had some skepticism about this, but I have to agree with the Priest that this is the way to go.  It also seems to be my experience of Church matters amongst those for whom these things are not new (ex. being around for a Reader's service - the man barely stops to breath!)

In the end, prayer is for our sake - it's not a performance to impress God, or to get Him up to speed on something He isn't already aware of.  He doesn't need that kind of "convincing."

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« Reply #22 on: June 21, 2006, 08:51:13 AM »

My 2 yr old and I pray together when we can - I'm on shift work so it is pretty hard. He's got the Jesus prayer down pat, but it's quite funnt watching him try to cross himself. Our prayer times always end up with a giggle or two, but i'm sure god understands, and knows my little boys heart. My wife and older 2 aren't real interested in God though, but me and my boy still pray for them.
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« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2006, 04:24:57 PM »

JayJay, I admire you for doing this even if wife and other children aren't.  I imagine there are some stress points there.

We were doing much better at first with prayers, my dh being a young bull out of the chute type convert.  It has gotten harder as time has gone on.  I still at times struggle with the "regurgitated" prayers , as I called them.  I feel my heart is not present in the matter.  anyone can recite prayers written by some guy 1000 years ago.  It still seems kind of sterile to me some moments, but it is getting better.  Just making a habit of saying the Jesus prayer more often is helpful.
My three sons (hahaha) all want to learn the Lord's Prayer in Greek, English isnt' as much fun.  We will probably have to wait on that, I speaka no Greek outside of the Liturgy book.  It is fun to watch my 2yo kiss the icons and try to cross herself or food.
Blessings
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« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2006, 05:51:52 PM »

We were doing much better at first with prayers, my dh being a young bull out of the chute type convert.  It has gotten harder as time has gone on.  I still at times struggle with the "regurgitated" prayers , as I called them.  I feel my heart is not present in the matter.

Have you ever seen or read "The Path of Prayer" by St. Theophan the Recluse? It's four short sermons on prayer (specifically on how to have a prayer rule/life of prayer), in which St. Theophan gives some excellent and very practical advice for just this difficulty.

I could send you a copy if you haven't read it. PM me.
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« Reply #25 on: July 05, 2006, 04:22:00 PM »

Hello, I'm the one who started this thread last fall.  Thought I'd give you an update on where we are now with family prayer. 

We normally do not do a full morning prayer service, but at breakfast we read the Magnificat as our "meal prayer" and then after we eat, my wife and I take turns reading the Epistle and Gospel of the day according to the Orthodox calendar.  In the evening, we go to the icon corner immediately after dinner and read the evening prayers with an Old Testament reading.  Sometimes we do "vespers greatest hits" if it's a patron saint day or something else we wish to commemorate.  Our priest encouraged us to build our family prayer with the entire family in mind, and this seems to be working now.

Little Maggie is one now, and since she goes to bed (or at least gets fussy) by 7 or 8pm, we have our evening prayers before she starts to fall apart.
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« Reply #26 on: July 05, 2006, 04:30:50 PM »

One more thought.  Regarding the rote vs. spontaeous prayer discussion, we do some spontaneous prayer within the context of the formal order of evening prayers.  This normally consists of praying for our family members and friends and anyone else who has needs.  I have found that the older "cradle" Orthodox Christians I know, when they pray, they tend to slip in and out of memorized prayers and their own words.  I guess my thought is that when one's mind is shaped by the Church's prayers over the course of many years, one simply "prays" without worrying about it.

For myself, I keep my spontaneous prayers to a minimum because I can't come up with anything as reverent and good and true as the prayers from the prayer books.
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« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2006, 09:37:03 AM »

After supper, we do the Trisagion prayers.  With an easily distracted five year old, this is a short but easily maintained discipline.
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