229. Your 2021 New Year’s Resolution… a week late, but ready to go

Your Resolution: “I will say Morning Prayers daily.”

 image from Andrew Steven Damick: Wikimedia Commons

Now that the Holy Days and holidays are over, it’s time to get down to business.

Perhaps you already pray every morning, in which case forgive me for doubting you. But judging by what I’ve heard in private conferences and Confessions over the years (and even by my own failure at times), too many people do not do so.

Now, if you’re a mother with little children you are hereby granted an exemption if need be. Just say the Lord’s Prayer while running, or the Jesus Prayer or “Lord have mercy” a few times. And as your children get older, try to pray with them. Shaping them this way is very important – even though you certainly won’t be able to concentrate. *

  • Have I told you this before? A woman from our parish was teaching her little ones to pray. She was overheard praying like this: “Holy God, holy mighty, holy immortal one, have mercy on us. Holy God, holy mighty, Luke, stop hitting your sister, holy immortal one, have mercy on us…”

But most of us need to take time to pray. Some, for example those who like me are retired, should give considerable time to this. Set a time for your prayers and, barring emergency, keep it. I italicize, because if you don’t do this, other things will get in the way.

The best time to pray is first thing in the morning. This sets the tone for the day and orders our mind and hearts and wills for whatever is to come.

“But I don’t have time to pray.” Really? Not even five minutes? Of course you do. It’s just that someone (right *) wants you not to pray. So fight back. Besides, as I’ve long said, “Prayer doesn’t take time. Prayer makes time.” Try it. You’ll see.

  • I had this Post set up before last Wednesday so I did not plan this, but he looks like that guy in pagan garb in the mob who invaded the Capitol building!

In various little Orthodox prayer books, you can find personal morning prayers, based on the pattern the Church has worked out over the centuries. (For myself, I’ve found The Ancient Faith Prayer Book to be the best of the lot.) However, all the prayers provided may seem more than you can handle, so that you’ll feel overwhelmed and tempted to give it up entirely. So if you’re just beginning, please don’t overdo it. The quality of our praying is more important than the quantity. As you get into the habit more prayer will come naturally.

 from the Ancient Faith Store

As I was getting acquainted with Orthodoxy, I kept thinking: “Must my prayers go on and on forever? The answer is No. In all things, the Orthodox Church offers us not the minimum “necessary for salvation”, but the maximum –  something to aim towards.

So, if you’re just getting started, my purpose here is to provide only a few Morning Prayers which I have found particularly helpful to me. Most I have “lifted” from the Ancient Faith Prayer Book – with permission from Ancient Faith Ministries. I’ve added some accompanying instructions.

I think these provide a great beginning to the day. You may print them out, if you wish, but I’d suggest that at first you pray directly from your computer, right here – there’s nothing illegal about that. Pray them for a while, see how well they “work” with you, then buy the Ancient Faith Prayer Book (or any other Orthodox prayer book) and proceed – again, remembering that you are not obligated to pray all the prayers provided.

Let’s start at the very beginning. Here’s my advice on…

How to Begin your Day

As you get out of bed, make the Sign of the Cross and say “Thank you, Lord, for letting me see another day”.

It’s definitely ok to brush your teeth now and comb your hair! and, if need be to keep yourself awake, make a cup of coffee as I do.

Then, barring emergency, go immediately to your Icon Corner, or (as in my case) at least where you can see your icons.

from Evangelidis

And then:

Five Minutes of Morning Prayers

Take a few seconds to collect your thoughts and focus them on God. The best way is to say The Jesus Prayer maybe ten times: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

2  Begin with The Trisagion Prayers

There are various translations of these prayers. Feel free to use one you’re familiar with.

Glory to you our God, Glory be You!

Holy God. Holy Mighty. Holy Immortal Have mercy on us.(3 times)

Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to ages of ages. Amen

All Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, forgive our sins. Master, pardon our transgressions. Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities, for Your Name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy.(3 times)

Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to ages of ages. Amen

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, 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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (or “from the evil one”).

 The Breastplate of Saint Patrick.

One reason I use the Ancient Faith Prayer Book is because it contains this prayer. Pay close attention as you pray it. Notice how section by section it surrounds us, in sequence, with the strength of the Holy Trinity and of the mighty acts of Christ, then of the angels and saints, of God’s creation, of God’s protection, and that of all his holy angels and saints against particular dangers. Finally it surrounds us by Christ’s presence on all sides. As you pray this last section, I suggest that you mentally place Christ “with you, before you, behind you”, and so on. There is power and strength for the day in this prayer

All icons are from Saint Isaac’s Skete at skete.com

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of the rocks.

I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against dark laws of paganism,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and conjurers and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

4 A Morning Prayer

You send forth the light and it proceeds. You make the sun to rise upon the just and the unjust, the evil and the good. You make the morning and give light to the whole world. Enlighten also our hearts, O Master of all. Grant that this day we may be acceptable to You; preserve us from all sin and every wicked deed; deliver us from every arrow of temptation that flies by day and from every adverse power, by the intercessions of our all-pure Lady the Mother of God, of Your bodiless ministers and heavenly hosts, and of all the saints who have been well-pleasing to You throughout the ages. For Your will it is to have mercy and to save us, O God, and to You do we give glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

5  The Prayer of Saint Philaret of Moscow

As I take this prayer into my heart, it has given me peace and also prevented me from doing a number of stupid things!

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day, reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will; teach me to pray; pray You Yourself in me. Amen.

5  A Prayer to Christ for Guidance and Illumination

Christ, the True Light, You enlighten and sanctify each person who comes into the world. Make the light of Your countenance shine upon us, that in it we may see Your unapproachable Light, and guide our steps that we may keep Your commandments. By the intercessions of Your most pure Mother and of all Your saints. Amen.

5  Conclusion

Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

6  Then, if you have time (and try hard to do this) add:

Daily Scripture Readings and Saints of the Day

This daily Orthodox Lectionary is easily accessible at the Greek Archdiocese website: https://www.goarch.org/chapel/  Please read at least the Gospel for the day, and get to know your Lord Jesus Christ better.

At first it also felt very strange to me to read the Bible online. Then I thought how odd it must been for people when they first began to read from books instead of scrolls! 

Next Week: A saint who spent much of his adult life in a cave and thereby turned the world upside down – Antony the Great

Week after NextThe Prayers nobody pays attention to

4 thoughts on “229. Your 2021 New Year’s Resolution… a week late, but ready to go

  1. By God’s grace, I’ve *finally* started to get into a rhythm teaching my daughters (and myself!) to pray regularly. I’ve dialed my expectations WAY back. We do the Trisagion and the morning prayer of Met. Philaret in the mornings, and the Trisagion and the prayer for forgiveness and personal intercessions in the evening. And we bless our food before eating. That’s it! It’s SO MUCH LESS than what my pride wants me to do, but it is exactly what we are able to maintain at this point in our lives (girls are 6 and 2).

    1. God bless you, Alli. I think you’re doing the right thing. God willing, you’ll have many future years to catch up on your prayers. Meanwhile God never denies us His grace if we’re seeking it.

  2. Father Bill! Thank you for this encouragement! If I were more tech savvy I would know how to send this link to you. Please search Voces8: The Deer’s Cry – Arvo Part on You Tube. It is an incredibly beautiful hymn of which the word’s are St. Patrick’s Breastplate. I hope that is blesses you as you do bless me with you weekly blog!

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