Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Why we use prayer books

During Great Lent the Church offers a special service known as Great Compline. There is also a Small Compline which is part of the daily services offered mostly in monastic communities and in the private home. The service receives its name from the Greek word, Αποδείπνον, which is translated as “after supper” indicating when the prayers are offered. You could say the Compline is the service we pray not immediately before we go to bed, but between supper and bed. While normally the Small Compline is a personal prayer offered in front of our icons throughout the year, the Great Compline is offered as a community in the Church.

As I mentioned during the first week of Great Lent, we should look at the services and readings prescribed by the Church to better understand the emphasis the Church desire for us in our life. One such opportunity it the PRAYER OF MANASSES, KING OF JUDA offered ONLY during the Great Compline. Here is the text of that prayer.

O Lord, Almighty, the God of our Fathers, of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and of their righteous seed; who created the heaven and the earth with all their adornment; who bound the sea by the word of your command; who shut up the abyss and scaled it with your awesome and glorious name; whom all things dread and before whose power they tremble, because the majesty of your glory is unbearable and the threat of your anger against the sinners unendurable; yet the mercy of your promise is both, immeasurable and unfathomable, for you are the Lord most high, compassionate, long-suffering and all merciful, and relent on the wickedness of man.

You, Lord, in the multitude of your goodness promised repentance and forgiveness to those who have sinned against you, and in your infinite compassion appointed repentance for sinners that they may be saved. Therefore, Lord, the God of the powers, you have not appointed repentance for the righteous, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who have not sinned against you, but you appointed repentance for me the sinner, for I have committed more sins than the grains of the sand of the sea.

My transgressions have multiplied, Lord; my transgressions have multiplied, and I am not worthy to look up and see the height of the sky from the multitude of my iniquities, being weighted down by many iron  chains, so that I cannot raise my head; there is no respite left for me because I provoked your anger and committed evil before you not having done your will and not having kept your commandments. And now I bend the knee of my heart, beseeching your goodness.

I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned and I acknowledge my transgressions; but I beg and ask of you: Forgive me, Lord, forgive me and do not destroy me with my transgressions; do not be angry with me forever and keep my evils in me, and do not condemn me to the depths of the earth; for you are God, the God of those who repent, and in me you shall show all your goodness; for even though I am unworthy, you shall save me according to the multitude of your mercy, and I shall praise you without ceasing all the days of my life. For every heavenly power sings your praises, and yours is the glory unto the ages of ages.

If we allow the words of Manasses to become our words, this prayer will most definitely launch you into the last two weeks of Great Lent. 

1 comment:

Juliana Ingram said...

Glory to God for all things. <3