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Prayers

Prayers for Peace

Nothing is more basic to Christian life than prayer. It is the foundation of all other response, not an alternative to response. Please find time each day to be aware of wars now going on in the world and to pray for peace.

Wars or near-war conflicts are currently occurring in Afghanistan, Burundi, Chechnya, Colombia, Congo, Egypt, India and Pakistan (over Kashmir), Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Lebanon, Mali, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria and Ukraine. The list of countries at war regularly changes, but the reality of war is immediate and daily in the lives of millions of people.

As you pray for peace, remember also that all conflict begins in the passions, lusts, and desires that “war in your members” (James 1), as in every human soul. Pray that you would increasingly become a peacemaker at home and work, between neighbors and friends, and in your parish. All peacemaking begins in prayer.

Below is a list of prayers for peace, safety, reconciliation, forgiveness, and more that you may find useful and may be adapted for use in prayer alone, together with others, and in services.


 

12 icon-st-ephraim-prostration the OPFThe prayer linked here was written by Fr. Steven Tsichlis of St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, California for use in a prayer vigil for peace and was published in In Communion 70.


 

front page ecumenical prayer service pdfDownload the full text of the Ecumenical Service of Prayer for Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East held at St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, California on October 10th, 2014. The text in full or in part may be adapted for use in a service or personal prayer.


 

st nicholas myra amsterdamSpecial prayer being used at the St. Nicholas of Myra Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam for believers to turn from violence and be reconciled.

 


unnamedSt. Nikolai lived his life surrounded by enemies. He was actively engaged in public life throughout the turmoils of WWI and WWII, caring for the suffering of those in his nation, as well as those outside of it. His public life guaranteed that many, to this day, still carry enmity for the saintly bishop. In 1941, he engaged in civil resistance and disobedience, refusing to collaborate with the Nazis. For his he was taken to the Dachau concentration camp. He then fled to America in 1946 as a refugee from communism.”

Prayer for Our Enemies

Prayer for Our Enemies

Lord Jesus,

12 icon-st-ephraim-prostration the OPF

You commanded us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us that we may be truly children of our Father in Heaven, Who causes the sun to rise on those who are evil and those who are good, and rain to fall on both the righteous and the unrighteous: we beg You – fill our minds and hearts with Your Holy Spirit that we may forgive those who persecute and murder our brothers and sisters as You forgave those who crucified You.

Help us to repay their evil with goodness that we might not be overcome by evil but conquer evil with good. Deliver us from anger and a desire for vengeance.

As Your first martyr Stephen prayed to You for his murderers, so we pray for all those who fight in the name of ISIS: enlighten their minds and hearts that they might come to know You, the only true God, and Your love for all humankind made manifest in Your Cross. Lead them to repent of their many sins, having defiled themselves with the blood of their many innocent victims and having handed their own souls over to the darkness of the Evil One. Do not let them perish. Have mercy on them and forgive them, for they do not know You or the Father Who sent You, and know not what they do.

For blessed is Your holy Name, O Christ our God, and to You do we offer glory, honor and worship, together with Your eternal Father and Your Holy Spirit, the one true and living God, always now and forever and to the ages of ages.

Amen.

Prayer offered in September 2014 by OPF member Fr. Steve Tsichlis, pastor of St Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, California

Prayer for Believers to turn from Violence and be Reconciled

Nothing is more basic to Christian life than prayer. It is the foundation of all other response, not an alternative to response. Please find time each day to be aware of wars now going on in the world and to pray for peace.

***

Special prayer being used at the St. Nicholas of Myra Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam

 

st nicholas myra amsterdam

Let all believers turn aside from violence and do what makes for peace. By the strength of your powerful arm save your people and your Holy Church from all evil oppression; hear the supplications of all who call to you in sorrow and affliction, day and night, O merciful God, let their lives not be lost, we pray you, hear us and have mercy on us.

But grant, O Lord, peace, love and speedy reconciliation to your people whom you have redeemed with your precious blood. Make your presence known to those who have turned away from you and do not seek you, so that none of them may be lost, but all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, so that everyone, in true harmony and love, O long-suffering Lord, may praise your all holy Name.

The Protection of the Mother of God

The account of the appearance is to be found in the Life of St. Andrew “the Fool in Christ” (died 956). It is at the church of Blachernes [in Constantinople], where the robe, the veil and part of the girdle of the Holy Virgin are preserved, that the appearance occurred. During the office of the vigil, about four in the morning, St. Andrew and his disciple Epiphanius saw a majestic woman advancing towards the ambo, supported by St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, and accompanied by several saints. On reaching the center of the church, the Mother of God knelt down and remained long in prayer, her face bathed in tears. When she had prayed yet again before the altar, she took off the shining veil which enveloped her and, holding it above her head, extended it over all the people present in the church. Andrew and Epiphanius alone were able to see the appearance of the Mother of God and her veil which shone like the glory of God, but all who were present felt the grace of her protection. This invisible protection of the Mother of God, interceding with her Son for the whole universe, protection that St. Andrew could contemplate in the form of a veil covering the faithful, constitutes the central idea of the festival of October 1st: “The Virgin is today present in the church: with the choirs of the saints she prays to God invisibly for us. Angels and bishops prostrate themselves, apostles and prophets rejoice: for the Mother of God intercedes for us before the eternal God.”

The Mother of God is seen standing on a small cloud, hovering in the air above the faithful. She has both arms outstretched in a gesture of supplication, expressing her prayer of intercession. Two angels hold by either end a great veil which billows in the form of a vault over the Mother of God. The procession of saints which surrounded the Queen of the Heavens at the time of her appearance is represented by two groups of apostles and prophets with St. John the Forerunner. On his scroll: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near.”

To the right of the ambo, two persons in the foreground are detached from the crowd of the faithful. They are St. Andrew and St. Epiphanius, the witnesses of the appearance of the Mother of God. St. Andrew is turned towards his disciple showing him the appearance with a gesture of the right arm extended towards the Mother of God.

– from The Meaning of Icons by Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press

In Communion / Fall 2007 / Protection of the Mother of God

St. George the Great Martyr

True stories become legends and legends are compressed via symbols into myths. The St. George of myth was a knight in armor who fought a dragon to save a princess. The real George never saw a dragon nor did he rescue a princess in distress. We are not even sure he had a horse, possessed a sword, or was a soldier. It is possible he was a farmer – the name “George” means tiller of the soil, which explains why St. George is a patron saint of agriculture, herds, flocks and shepherds.

A Christian convert who was born late in the third century after Christ and died early in the fourth century, George was one of the victims of the anti-Christian persecution ordered by the Emperor Diocletian that began in February of the year 303. Churches were destroyed and biblical texts burned. All Roman subjects were ordered to make ritual sacrifices to Rome’s gods. Those who refused risked loss of property and severe punishment. Many were sent into exile as slave laborers in quarries and mines in Egypt and Palestine. Thousands were tortured and many executed. Finally in 311 the attack ended. With Diocletian in retirement and the emperor Galerius critically ill and close to death, Galerius published an edict of toleration allowing Christians to restore their places of worship and to worship in their own way without interference, provided they did nothing to disturb the peace.

What made George a saint among saints was the fearless manner in which he proclaimed his faith during a period of persecution when many other Christians were hoping not to be noticed. According to one ancient account, George went to a public square and announced, “All the gentile gods are devils. My God made the heavens and is the true God.” For this George was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded. The probable date of his martyrdom is April 23, 303, in the town of Diospolis, later known as Lydda, in Asia Minor – Turkey as it is known today. His courageous witness led to the conversion of many and gave renewed courage to others already baptized.

In the oldest icons of St. George, he is shown dressed as a soldier and holding the cross of martyrdom.

It was only in later centuries that the dragon legend emerged. It has been told in many variations, but in its most popular form it concerns a dragon living in a lake who was worshiped by the unbaptized local people, who in their fear sacrificed their children to appease the creature. Finally it was the turn of the king’s daughter, Elizabeth, to be sacrificed. While going toward the dragon to meet her doom, Saint George appeared riding a white horse. He prayed to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then transfixed the dragon with his lance. Afterward Elizabeth led the vanquished creature into the city.

According to the Legenda Aurea written by Blessed James de Voragine, the wounded dragon followed Elizabeth “as if it had been a meek beast and debonair.” Refusing a reward of treasure, George called on the local people to be baptized. The king agreed, also promising to maintain churches, honor the clergy, faithfully attend religious services, and show compassion to the poor.

– an extract from Praying with Icons (Jim Forest, Orbis Books)

Several statements, prayers and appeals of Patriarch Pavle

-- Patriarch Pavle, speaking at a news conference June 28, 1999, at the 14th-century Orthodox monastery in Gracanica
— Patriarch Pavle, speaking at a news conference June 28, 1999, at the 14th-century Orthodox monastery in Gracanica

“If the only way to create a greater Serbia is by crime, then I do not accept that, and let that Serbia disappear. And also if a lesser Serbia can only survive by crime, let it also disappear. And if all the Serbs had to die and only I remained and I could live only by crime, then I would not accept that; it would be better to die.”

Here is a small collection from the writings and sermons of Patriarch Pavle.

Memorial service in February 1992 for war victims:

Today, on this the Sunday following the feast of St. Sava, as on every other Sunday, brothers and sisters, the Holy Church celebrates the weekly commemoration of the greatest event of our salvation, the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Sunday is for every week what the Feast of Easter is for the whole year.

Before the Son of God, the One Who out of love for us and for our salvation was Crucified on the Cross and Resurrected by His Divine power, we prayed today, for the peace of the whole world, for the salvation of our souls, and for all our fathers and brothers who have gone before us.

In particular we served a general requiem where we prayed for all the souls of our brothers and sisters and children who shed their blood and lost their lives in the terrible of this senseless war.

In humbleness of heart we pray to God to receive their souls mercifully and give them rest in the Kingdom of Heaven, where there is neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life reigns everlasting.

With tears and sighs we bemoan all those brothers and sisters who remained alive but were driven from their homes and are now refugees from their birth places; those who have been left physically and spiritually disabled. With tears we bemoan all the children left without the homes of their childhood, left without their childhood, and left without one or, in many cases, both parents.

While lamenting those closest to us by faith and blood, for all the hardship that came upon them, destroyed homes, churches, irretrievable destroyed treasures of historical and cultural significance, we lament the Croatian people also, for their misfortune and suffering as well as the destruction of their property and churches, their cultural and historical monuments, knowing that had we been better Christians and better men, this disaster could have bypassed us.

I appeal to you all, brothers and sisters, to spend this following week in fasting, in humility of heart, in prayer and repentance, that our conscience and mind at least be awakened from these tragedies, so that we see the teaching of the Gospel that it is not terrible to die for the sake of God’s righteousness, but it is terrible to die for the sake of sin, not seeing and feeling its horror and the need for repentance, the correction of our lives, the return to God’s way, the way of humanity, justice and truth.

Let us grasp the teaching of the Holy Apostle Paul, that one cannot accomplish good by evil means — a lesson our mothers taught us through the ages, warning us that evil never brings good. Oh, that God would help us to understand that we are human beings and that we must live as human beings, so that peace would come into in our country and bring to an end the killing of Serbs and Croatians.

Lord, give rest to the souls of Thy servants who have been killed, our brothers, sisters and children. Lord, show Your mercy to all, and upon us. Amen.

[S. M. / Translated from Pravoslavlje, February 15, 1992]

Petitions composed by Patriarch Pavle for inclusion in all services:

At the Great Litany:

“For the mercy of God for us, His unworthy servants, to keep us all from hatred and evil deeds, to implant in us unselfish love, whereby all may recognize that we are disciples of Christ and people of God, as were our saintly ancestors, so that we may always know to ally ourselves with the truth and justice of the Heavenly Kingdom, let us pray to the Lord.”

“For all those who committed injustice against their neighbor, whether they saddened the poor or spilled innocent blood, or returned hatred with hatred, that God grant them repentance, enlighten their minds and hearts, and illumine their souls with holy love even toward their enemies, let us pray to the Lord.

Litany of Fervent Supplications:

“O Lord, how many are the foes who war against us and say: ‘There is no help for them from God or from man.’ Lord, reach out Thy hand to us that we remain Thy people, both in faith and in works. If we must suffer, may it be on the road to Thy justice and Thy truth, and not because of our injustice or hatred toward anyone. Let us all say fervently, Lord have mercy.”

“Again we pray to God, the Savior of all men, even for our enemies, that the Lord who loves mankind turn them away from violence against our Orthodox people; that they not destroy our holy temples and graves, that they not kill our children and persecute our people, but that they also find the road to repentance, justice and salvation. Let us all say fervently, Lord have mercy.”

From the Introduction to the book, War Damage Sustained by Orthodox Churches in Serbian Areas of Croatia in 1991:

We cannot pass through this world without suffering and hardship. The history of mankind is filled with so much devastation caused by the elements, so much misery caused by man to his fellow man.

In the Holy Scriptures, God points many times to the suffering that awaits His faithful: In the world you have tribulation…; If they persecuted me, they will persecute you: let he who wants to go with me take up his cross and follow (Jn 16:33; 15:20). The Apostle Paul also says that we must enter the kingdom of God through many tribulations (Acts 14:22). The Apostle Peter even teaches that there is a difference between suffering for the sake of righteousness which, he says, is part of the suffering of Christ, and suffering for sins, and he warns the faithful: let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrong-doer (1 Pet. 3:14; 4;15).

Not heeding this advice draws us into the madness of war that has befallen both the Croats and ourselves. It brings so much spilled blood and loss of lives, so many disabled persons, exiles and refugees, so many ruined material and cultural effects, so many destroyed churches, so many historical and cultural riches accumulated over the centuries that are lost forever.

The inestimable losses suffered, brought before our eyes and the eyes of the world, should jolt our senses and our conscience, and make us remember that we have been a Christian people for more than one thousand years, and that in so much time we have yet to learn the simplest teaching of Christianity: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Mt. 7:12). And what have we done with the essence of the faith, love, and love’s highest form, love for our enemies, which means rising to the stature of our Father’s hallowed Son who is in heaven, and the awareness that we are people of God, and to act accordingly. Let us try to achieve this. Then God will hear us and bring an end to the war, so that peace may reign in this turbulent world.

From an address by Patriarch Pavle on October 6, 1992, when he arrived in the US:

For over three decades as the Bishop of Ras-Prizren in the Kosovo-Metohija Province, I traveled by foot to many Albanian and Serbian homes to speak personally with them of peace. Due to the tragedy that has befallen the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, I once again must travel through the war-torn villages of my homeland, down Belgrade streets in protest of war, in search of peace. And now I have come to America to appeal for an end to suffering, for an end to this mindless war.

As you know, on May 27, as the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, over which I preside, condemned with great severity the hate-breeding nationalism that exists on all sides. We called on President Milosevic to step down, supported the Opposition parties’ boycott of elections, and urged them as I urge now that a government of national unity and salvation be created that will enjoy the confidence of all the people.

I come to you just having met with Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb on September 23. Together we appealed and demanded, on the basis of our spiritual position and moral responsibility, for an end to the violence. We condemned ethnic cleansing and the blasphemous destruction of all shrines and places of prayer, both Christian and Muslim….

I appeal to you, as I have appealed to Cardinal Kuharic and Islamic leader Reis-ul-ulimi Jakov, that each side must see the other, acknowledge each other’s suffering, and approach peace through just negotiations. I appeal to you, to pray to God for peace in our country, and that truth illumine the hearts and minds of all those in whose hands the destiny of my people lie.

From a letter of Patriarch Pavle to the Islamic reis-ul-ulemi Jakov Selimovski:

Your Eminence,

I received your letter of June 1 in which with great sorrow you set forth the misfortunes of the faithful of the Islamic community since the outbreak of this mindless war in Bosnia and Hercegovina. You number the thousands of Moslems that were killed, mainly unarmed citizens, women, children and elderly men. You also number those who were interned in camps in the vicinity of Sarajevo, Bratunac, Bosanska Krupa, Zvornik and other places. You said that “all this is happening to a people only because they have a different culture, because they confess the Islamic faith and because they express the will to be free as other peoples are.”

It is understandable that you, heading the Islamic faith community, see and feel the sufferings of your faithful brethren, as I, too, see and feel the sufferings of the Orthodox faithful, for they turn to me as to their spiritual father. But we must both see the other side, that the Orthodox and Catholics are suffering those same misfortunes. How many of them are in detention camps, how many wounded, how many killed, only because they belong to another nation, and to another faith, and because they also wish to be free as other nations are? And therefore they suffer at the hands of isolated individuals, brutes and criminals, whose behavior shows no regard for the faith to which they say they belong.

How many times have I begged and pleaded, spoken and written in the media, that peace must be obtained; that we begin to make a break with the killings and the evil, that we become the human beings that we are, and behave as men of faith in the one God of justice, truth and peace who calls us to righteousness and peace, but whose call goes unheeded.

From an interview in October 1992 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, quoted in the National Catholic Review:

Our goal must be not to see things only from one side, and have one rule by which we justify ourselves and another by which we judge our enemies, because then our enemies will do the same, and there will be no end. A crime committed by my brother is still a crime.

It is only the will of the devil that is served by this war, who through the ages is the killer of man and of everything good. We have the choice now whether to listen to him and follow his way, or to listen to God and follow His way.

Cain and Abel were the closest possible of human beings, brothers alone on the earth. And yet hatred occurred. Whether we are to be Cain or Abel depends on each of us, regardless of the pressures from the world or from our enemies. Our Lord came to this world to teach us how to be true human beings, how to become heavenly beings. His suffering and death give meaning to every instance of our suffering on the way to his justice. We should never fear dying for the sake of God’s justice; but we should fear committing evil, for such sinners are the walking dead of this world. God has one standard for us all.