Prayers and Creeds
Prayer is the essence of the Orthodox Christian way of life. By praying, the believer strives for communion with God. Moreover, it is the means by which the faithful experience the presence of God in their lives. Through a regular prayer life the Christian is able to keep a continuous focus on Christ and His will. We are taught to pray in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, before sleep, before meals, quite simply, throughout the day.
The Orthodox Church encourages both private prayer, which takes place personally between God and us, and corporate prayer, which occurs in the Divine Liturgy, the Sacraments, and other services of the Church. Whether corporate or private, prayer is understood in the Orthodox Church as the "lifting of the mind and heart to God." This is accomplished by either speaking to Him with words or by standing in silence, trusting in God and being open to His will for us.
Praying is not merely the repetition of words and formulas. We pray to know God. Our prayers are to assist us in communicating. Our heart and mind should capture the meaning of the words and the intent of the prayer that we utter. Some of the more common prayers of the Orthodox Christian are included here;
The Lord's Prayer
Commonly known in English as the Our Father, it is the most well-known prayer of the Christian faith. The Lord's Prayer is found in Matt. 6:9-13 as part of the Sermon on the Mount. A similar version is found in Luke 11:2-4.
It is called the "Lord's Prayer" because it was the prayer given by Jesus in response to a request from the Apostles for guidance on how to pray. Christ might have prayed it by way of identifying himself with the common plight of man and of asking for the forgiveness of the sins of his disciples.
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.
The Creed exists as a brief authoritative formula or symbol of religious belief. The Creed was produced by the Church as a human document carefully considered and thoughtfully worded in response to various issues, heresies and historical situations that troubled the Church and the world at the time. The Creed is a statement of faith that is true and authoritative insofar as it accurately reflect what Scripture and tradition teach. The Creed most familiar to Orthodox Christians was drafted by the Church at the Council of Nicaea [325 AD] and the Council of Constantinople [381 AD] and is technically known as the Nicaea-Constantinopolitan Creed. These Councils affirmed the view that Christ is truly human and truly divine, and could redeem the whole person. The symbol emphasizes the Trinitarian faith. The symbol is very suitable for liturgical use and was used as an early baptismal and Eucharistic formula. It affirms the full deity of the Holy Spirit using biblical rather than philosophical terms to do so. The translation most familiar to us reads;
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; being 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, 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;
I believe 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.
Prayer to the Theotokos
It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, without defilement you gave birth to God the Word. True Theotokos we magnify you!