The Prayer Rule

The Prayer Rule is the medicine that helps us progress on our journey to God

One medicine for the heart, is the use of a “Prayer Rule.” This “Rule” is of the utmost importance, for the prayer rule helps develop the discipline we all need to progress, spiritually. It is one of the great tools the Orthodox Way has to offer, and has been handed down, from the earliest of times, through the Fathers of the Church. The “art of prayer,” comes from the experience of the Early Church.

Along with keeping the fasting rules of the Church, including the Wednesday and Friday fasts, the Prayer Rule, given to you by your Spiritual Father, Spiritual Mother, or, your Confessor, is the medicine that will help you progress, spiritually, on your journey to God.

If you do not already own a Jordanville Prayer Book (they can be purchased directly from Holy Trinity Monastery, in Jordanville, New York,) I would strongly suggest you purchase one. The language used is the best of English “liturgical language,” available, in my opinion, and better serves the needs of the inner life. Common pedestrian language is fine for everyday communication, but formal English liturgical language, when spoken to God, creates the sacred space, one reserves for the Lord.

The Morning and Evening Prayers should be said as though one’s life depended on it, for, in a profound way, our spiritual life DOES depend on it. The Precommunion Prayers, as well as the Postcommunion Prayers, together with abstinence from all food and drink from midnight on,  prior to receiving the Holy Mysteries, is also a discipline that, not only is commanded by the Church, but properly prepares us for the reception of Our Lord’s Body and Blood. It is in the reception of His very Body and Blood, where we receive healing of both body and soul.

The use of the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,” throughout the day, aids us in a most powerful way, to live out our life, focused on Christ. There is power in the Holy Name of Jesus, and this prayer fulfills Saint Paul’s injunction that we “should pray always.” The Jesus Prayer, also known as the Prayer of the Heart, gives us the strength to walk with Jesus, throughout the day, even when driving through heavy traffic, weeding in the garden, waiting for the bus, or sitting in a long board meeting.

Finally, it is important to remember that the Church, as defined by the Early Church Fathers, is not a religious institution, but, rather, a living organism, that is the Hospital for the Soul. Her priests, who first sought therapy, became the therapists. Therefore, the frequent use of the “tools” given to us by Christ, through His Church, are of the utmost importance to our spiritual progress. Weekly confession, and weekly reception of the Holy Eucharist, give us spiritual strength, and enable us to live “in the world,” without being “of the world.”

Lastly, whenever we meet a priest, we should ask for a blessing, remembering that it is not his blessing we are seeking, but the blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ, Whose priesthood the clergyman participates in. When addressing a priest, or bishop, in a written form, whether by letter, or email, it is a good and pious practice to always ask for a blessing. This can be done, if it be a bishop, by writing, “Master, bless.” If a priest, “Father, bless.” Just before signing your name, “Kissing your right hand, and asking your prayers.” Again, this is NOT about the bishop, or the priest, but ALL about Christ, Whose blessing we seek. It is much the same with the veneration of icons, for when we kiss the icon of a saint, we not only show our love and respect to the saint, and seek their prayers, but we are kissing Jesus Christ, Who dwells in His saints.

Because Orthodoxy is “wholistic,” in nature, our living out this Faith should not be confined to Sunday morning. If we were a pianist, and made our living playing with a orchestra, we wouldn’t think of going through a week without daily practice, for we’d not be in the orchestra for long. As well, a marriage that is not worked at, on a daily basis, is doomed to ultimate failure, for a relationship between two people, requires work. If we expect to have a relationship with God, and have Him dwell in our hearts, and commune with Him, we have to treat our spiritual life as something important, and something that we are committed to. An occasional Liturgy does not suffice, if we expect to grow in Faith and Wisdom.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: Shayne Swenson of Spokane, WA., came for a short retreat here at the monastery, and presented us with this beautiful icon of Saint Herman of Alaska, which he painted. We have a relic of Saint Herman that will be placed on the icon, allowing visitors and monastics to venerate the holy relics of our beloved Saint Herman.

Tuesday August 27, 2019 / August 14, 2019
11th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Dormition (Theotokos) Fast. By Monastic Charter: Food without Oil
Forefeast of the Dormition.
Prophet Micah (8th c. B.C.).
Translation of the relics of Venerable Theodosius of the Kiev Caves (1091).
New Hieromartyr Basil bishop of Chernigov and with him Hieromartyr Mathew and Martyr Alexis (1918).
New Hieromartyr Vladimir priest (1920).
New Hieromartyrs Vladimir and Nicholas priests, Hieromartyr Eleutherius, Virgin-Martyr Eudokia and Martyr Theodore (1937).
New Hieromartyr Schema-archimandrite Eleutherius of Chimkent (Kazakhstan) (1937).
Venerable Alexander confessor (1961).
Venerable Arcadius, monk, of Vyazma and New Torzhok (1077).
Hieromartyr Marcellus, bishop of Apamea (389).
“Converser” (1383) and “Narva” (1558) Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Martyr Ursicius at Nicomedia.
St. Fachanan, abbot of Ross Carbery, Cork, Ireland (ca. 600) (Celtic & British).
Hieromartyr Nazarius, metropolitan of Kutaisi, Georgia, with Priest-martyrs Herman, Hierotheus, and Simon, and Archdeacon Bessarion(1924) (Georgia).
Synaxis of the New Martyrs of Georgia who suffered under the Atheist Yoke (20th c.).
New Martyr Simeon of Trebizond (1653) (Greek).
Martyr Luke the Soldier (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

2 Corinthians 2:14-3:3

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

Christ’s Epistle

3 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? 2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

Matthew 23:23-28

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and [a]self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. The Monastery is under the omophore of The Most Rev. Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.

8 comments:

    1. First, thank you for sharing the icon of saint Herman which i intend to print off and use.
      This is a very useful post, which i intend not only to apply to my own life but to those in my care. Thank you Father.

  1. Peace…..I would like to ask you Abbot Tryphon, if the Orthodox Church has a procedure for one who desires and feels called to live as a hermit or anchorite following a Prayer Rule however on their own, not in community? I wondered if there is a way to make the calling official, or does one simply do this on their own as a layperson?

  2. Father, what sort of arrangements would need to be made with the Monastery to come and pray with you and St Herman? It would be wonderful to be able to venerate this beloved Saint. Thanks, Harold Luke

  3. Father bless. This is one of my favorites of your posts. I’m trying to remember the Jesus Prayer every time I encounter another person with whom I have any difficulties as a way of opening my heart to them. It is, as you said, very powerful, throughout each day and in all circumstances. The icon is beautiful. What a wonderful photo of you and the painter Shayne Swenson.

    “Kissing your right hand, and asking your prayers.”

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