The Ancient Faith Prayer Book
Vassilios Papavassiliou, ed.
2014, Ancient Faith Publishing
O Lord our God, if I have sinned in anything this day, in word, or deed, or thought, forgive me all, for You are good, and You love mankind. Grant me peaceful and undisturbed sleep, and deliver me from the assault and attack of the evil one. Rouse me at the proper time to glorify You, for blessed are You, together with Your Only-begotten Son and Your All-holy Spirit, now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
A Prayer for Forgiveness, p. 53.
Yes, I am still Baptist; but over the years, I have found myself in an increasing appreciation for the beauty of the teaching and traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found greater joy in finding commonalities among varying expressions of Christianity as opposed to emphasizing differences. I appreciate the Orthodox Church for its commitment to ancient expressions of the Christian faith as well as offering a perspective on familiar categories that is sometimes very different from my own.
Moreover, I’ve collected a number of prayer books over the years. It may seem odd to some, but I enjoy reading them and incorporating some prayers as my own when appropriate. If you’ve never tried it, I’ve often found that reading, reflecting and praying written prayers is the best kind of devotional.
The prayers are grouped by the following categories as represented from the Table of Contents:
- Morning Prayers
- Afternoon Prayers
- Prayers for Mealtimes
- Early Evening Prayers
- Late Evening Prayers
- Canon for Holy Communion
- Prayers Before Holy Communion
- Prayers for the Departed
- Prayers for Confession
- Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions
- Prayers of the Saints
In addition to these groups of prayers, there is an introduction on to how to use the book (which include instructions from St. Theophan the Recluse) as well as a Calendar of Great Feasts and Fasts.
The prayers include many traditional Orthodox prayers, biblical psalms, prayers of the Saints, and a number of modern occasional prayers. This last kind of prayers are most interesting to me. Some of them are basic such as prayers for Before a Journey, Before and After Work, and Before Study. There’s also some very modern needs addressed by these prayers such as a prayer Before Using the Internet:
Be the helper of my soul, O God, for I walk in the midst of many snares. Deliver me from them and save me, for You are good, and You love mankind. (p. 124)
There is another aspect to this collection of prayers that intrigued me. I’ve only attended two Orthodox services in two different churches, but in both one particular aspect of the liturgy stood out to me as unusual (as in more unusual than a lifelong Baptist experiencing an Orthodox service). Now, let me say up front that I do not mean any disrespect, I realize that I am a total outsider, and I’m willing to say that perhaps I just don’t get it. However, it struck me odd to hear so much Elizabethan, King James-ish language in the liturgy. I’m referring to use of archaic words such as Thou, Thee, and Thy and the like in reference to God.
I understand that the Orthodox Church embraces traditions and liturgies going back to the first centuries of the church—but those liturgies were not in Elizabethan English. In fact, I would guess that in the 17th century, there may not have been any Orthodox services being conducted in English (someone can correct me if I'm wrong). I understand that this type of language is often used for sake of formality and respect, but to me it’s a bit artificial. There’s a difference between traditional or even ancient and archaic. I don’t want the church (as expressed in any tradition) to come across as archaic.
All that to say, The Ancient Faith Prayer Book purposefully avoids this kind of language. There are no Elizabethan forms used, and (again, speaking as an outsider), I believe this is for the better. Thus, this volume is a collection of prayers—both ancient and modern—based on timeless truths, and written for a contemporary audience.
At 6.9 x 4.5 x 0.5 inches, this 176-page volume fits easily into the hand and is easy to carry. My copy is a paperback with a nice-looking grained green cover that sells for $14.95; however, there is also a deluxe leather edition for a fairly reasonable $39.95 directly from Ancient Faith Publishing. Physical copies have pages of a very decent quality with red ink for headings and drop cap letters. A Kindle edition sells for $9.99, and to my knowledge, the title is not offered on any Bible software platforms, although it would make a worthy addition.
I don’t believe I could, in good faith, pray every prayer in this book. Some of the prayers would not square with my own beliefs. However, for those who are like me and willing to focus on common elements of faith rather than differences, I would not have any problem in recommending this book to a wide audience beyond just Orthodox believers.
Questions, thoughts, comments, rebuttals? Leave them below!