Canonical Prayers

The Prayers and information below are from THE SPIRITUAL TREASURE ON CANONICAL PRAYER by Mor Ignatius Ephrem Barsoum As adopted by the Syriac Orthodox Church

Prayer is elevating the mind to the Almighty God and confiding with Him in spiritual utterances.  Through prayer we worship and thank Him and lay before Him our needs.

The necessity of prayer is attested to in the Books of the Bible:

“O You Who hear prayer, unto You all flesh shall come” (Psalm 65:2)

“Continue steadfastly in prayer being watchful in it with Thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2)

“Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18)

The Church acknowledges 7 times of prayer.  These have been handed down to the Church by her founders, the Apostles and Saint with guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“Seven times a day I praise You for Your righteous ordinances”

(Psalms 119:164)

  1. Evening Prayers or Vespers

We pray in the evening to give thanks to God, Who gave us night so that we may rest after the toils of the day.

  1. Compline or Prayer upon Retiring (Sootoro)

Upon retiring we pray to ask for protection from enemies of darkness and also because of the possibility that we might go to sleep and wake up in the world of eternity.

  1. Midnight Prayer

At midnight we pray to meditate on our Savior, Who passed the night of His Passion without sleep to teach us to always stay awake and pray so that we may escape from the Evil One and his powers.

  1. Morning Prayer (Matins)

In the morning we pray to thank God who gave us the light of the day.

  1. Three O’clock Prayer (9:00 am)

At the Third hour we pray, for Jesus was condemned to death at that hour after being scourged.  Thus we reflect on His passion and thank Him for bearing all that for us so that we might escape the pains of the righteous judgment on the Judgment Day.  At the Third Hour, the hour of His crucifixion, we pray to ponder it and thank God for His goodness and His love.

  1. Six O’clock Prayer (12:00 noon)

We pray at the Ninth Hour (3:00 pm) because it is His actual hour of death.  At that hour the whole creation shuddered at the dissimulation of the Jews.  We reflect over these things, and thank Him for His love, which is the greatest of all.  We also ask Him to save us from eternal death and gather us with our faithful departed.

  1. Nine O’clock Prayer (3:00 pm)

We learn from the book of Acts (2:15) that the Apostles used to pray at the sixth hour.

Prayer upon Confession of Sin (Before the priest)

I make my confession to God the Father Almighty, and to His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit.  I confess the holy faith of the three Ecumenical Councils of Nicea, Constantinople and Ephesus in the most noble priesthood ascribed unto you, Father Priest, by which you set loose and bind.  I have sinned through all my senses, both inwardly and outwardly, in word, in deed and in thought.   My sin is great, very great, and I repent of it most sincerely, purposing not to fall again into the same ever, preferring death rather than embrace sin.  And I ask you, by the authority of the sacred priesthood, that you absolve me of my sins, asking God to pardon me through His grace.  Amen.

Prayer Before Receiving Holy Communion

O Bread Who came down from heaven nourishment for men, grant that I partake of You in all pure desire, adoration and exaltation.  O delightful Wine of life, may I be intoxicated by Your divine love.  O You Who cried out saying:”If a man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink,” behold, my soul in thirst has come to You to drink of You, O Water of life.  O God, I am not worthy for You to enter into my heart, but only say a word to heal my soul that is longing for You just as the hart pants after the water brooks.  O cup of blessing and salvation, O Heavenly Manna, and Bread of life, abide with me forevermore.  Amen.

Prayer After Receiving Holy Communion

With what tongue shall I give thanks to You, O my worshiped God, and how can I praise this great grace of Yours which cannot be described.  For Your were pleased to give me Your most high Being as a Divine Provision.  You have intoxicated my spirit with Your blood, sanctified me with Your Spirit and satisfied my hunger from the bounty of Your house.  I, therefore, offer You my heart as a dwelling place for Your Majesty forever that You may reign over all my feelings and inclinations and control them according to Your will.  I pray that my Communion may increase my faith, strengthen my hope, kindle within me the fire of Your sweet love, and cause me to grow in all and every virtue.  May this Communion be a weapon that shields me against all ambushes of the enemies of my soul.  May it be for unity with You until I gain the privilege of attaining eternal life in Your Heaven with the congregation of Your Saints.  With them I shall offer praise to You with Your Father and Your Holy Spirit forever.  Amen.

Prayer at the Dining Table

(Before Eating)

O Taste and see how good the Lord is

Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Make O Lord Your nourishment, fullness, abundance and blessings dwell at your servants and worshippers.  Pour upon it your goodness and blessings, which never end and never run out, having mercy and compassion upon all your creation, O Father, Son, and holy Spirit, now, always and forever.  Amen.