Orthodox prayers for liturgical gangstas

If you haven’t already read it, Michael Spencer’s recent post introducing the “Liturgical Gangstas” is highly recommended.

The “gangstas” are five blogging pastors from different traditions (Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Lutheran) plus a Roman Catholic layman, assembled by Michael for an ongoing panel discussion on matters relating to Christian spiritual practice. The first topic under discussion is how each of the gangstas would advise someone looking to grow spiritually over the next year.

The whole post deserves careful and repeated reading: one to bookmark and go back to when the well runs dry. There is a heartening degree of convergence in the answers – keep joining with the saints in worship each Sunday, receive the Lord’s body and blood frequently, maintain a discipline of personal Bible reading and prayer, avoid sin and look for ways to show love in action towards others – but each respondent brings a useful and distinct perspective from his own tradition.

The Orthodox contributor, Fr Ernesto, mentions the “simple Orthodox-friendly morning and evening prayer” published in the back of the Orthodox Study Bible. I’ve been making use of a version of these prayers since picking up a secondhand copy of the NT/psalms edition of the OSB last month. The prayers can be found online here (evening) and here (morning). (The gorgeous icon shown above comes from those linked posts: if anyone knows anything more about it, please let me know in the comments.)

I’ve prepared some PocketMod versions of these prayers for my own use (inspired by Mike Benoit’s PocketMod prayer book on which I posted recently). These have been lightly “Lutheranised”, for which I hope any Orthodox readers will forgive me. Changes include using the Lutheran Service Book version of the Nicene Creed, for example. I’ve also square-bracketed items which non-Orthodox Christians may wish to omit, such as invocations of the Theotokos, or references to Orthodox clerical hierarchies.

PDFs of the various forms can be downloaded below, and I’ve also included a link to the MS Word versions in case people want to make any further tweaks (apologies for it being MS Word, but that’s the only software I had to hand when making them). In particular, the “letter” versions of the PDF have in fact come out in an A4 format, due to limitations of the PDF software on the PC I’m using, so if someone can provide “proper” letter format PDFs then that would be much appreciated.

Click here for instructions on how to fold the PocketMods.

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20 Responses to Orthodox prayers for liturgical gangstas

  1. Pingback: internetmonk.com » Blog Archive » The Weekend File: 11:29:08

  2. Thomas says:

    Here I am all aflutter over the Book of Common Prayer…silly me.

  3. steve martin says:

    There is a whole lot more of ‘How to’ Christianity in the Purpose Drivel Life’ and ‘Love Your Best Life Now’.

    Books, books and more books. ‘How to’s’ galore!

    As if “spiritual growth” is our job. It is not. That job expressly belongs to the Holy Spirit.

    You’d hope that at least the Lutheran gangsta would know that.

  4. Thomas says:

    Uh oh, John, you’ve been punked by a Real Live Lutheran. No doubt a report has been sent to the Magisterium.

  5. iMonk says:

    I’ve actually come to the position that all the benefits of Christ are ours in baptism, even if we don’t have faith of any kind.

  6. John H says:

    iMonk: I’m assuming you’re pulling our collective Lutheran leg, but despite that here’s a serious answer.

    The benefits of baptism are /received/ by faith, so you could say that baptism without faith does not benefit us. But the /promises/ of baptism remain true even if we do not believe them; and they renain for us to receive afresh if we return to our baptism by repenting and believing Christ and his promises once again. As Luther said (regarding those who were considering rebaptism owing to scruples about their former lack of faith):

    “If you did not believe then, believe now and say, ‘I was rightly baptized but alas, I did not receive it rightly’.”

    For that reason, even though I don’t share Steve’s hostility to the very idea of talking about “spiritual growth”, it’s not my preferred terminology. I’d prefer to talk about returning to one’s baptism in daily repentance and faith; about becoming more and more in practice what we already are in promise.

  7. Chris Jones says:


    As if “spiritual growth” is our job. It is not. That job expressly belongs to the Holy Spirit.

    Indeed — and yet:

    as soon as the Holy Ghost, as has been said, through the Word and holy Sacraments, has begun in us this His work of regeneration and renewal, it is certain that through the power of the Holy Ghost we can and should cooperate, although still in great weakness … since we receive in this life only the first-fruits of the Spirit, and the new birth is not complete, but only begun in us, the combat and struggle of the flesh against the spirit remains even in the elect and truly regenerate men … For this is certainly true that in genuine conversion a change, new emotion [renewal], and movement in the intellect, will, and heart must take place, namely, that the heart perceive sin, dread God’s wrath, turn from sin, perceive and accept the promise of grace in Christ, have good spiritual thoughts, a Christian purpose and diligence, and strive against the flesh. For where none of these occurs or is present, there is also no true conversion … This doctrine, therefore, directs us to the means whereby the Holy Ghost desires to begin and work this [which we have mentioned], also instructs us how those gifts are preserved, strengthened, and increased, and admonishes us that we should not let this grace of God be bestowed on us in vain, but diligently exercise those gifts, and ponder how grievous a sin it is to hinder and resist such operations of the Holy Ghost.

    And again:

    According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul.

    So while it is true that our spiritual growth is, as you say, the Holy Spirit’s job, that does not mean we are to spend our lives sitting on our duffs, sipping beer, and saying “No worries, mate, the Holy Spirit’s got my back.” That attitude ain’t Lutheran, and it ain’t the truth.

  8. Chris Jones says:

    PS — Extra credit to anyone who can identify the sources of both quotes.

  9. Thomas says:

    Okay – the first one sounds like the Council of Trent, second session, just after drinks but before supper. That is, no one knew someone was listening in… The second sounds like the Dalai Llama talking in his sleep…


    Actually, I’d hazard that the first has something to do with harmoniously confessing Luderans in the late sixteenth century – it’s always the Sixteenth Century, you know – while the second bears the scent of Oranges – no doubt it’s from a council on oranges held by a convocation of orange growers in the sixth century – it’s always the Sixth Century, you know – growers, moreover, who were so devout they had to wax rhapsodic, or at least apodictic, about Grace and Free Will.

    Peace out.

  10. Chris Jones says:

    Spot on, Thomas: the first quote is from the Solid Declaration of Real Live Lutheranism, and the second is from the Arausian Confession, that font of proto-Reformedness and not-an-iota-or-even-a-smidgen-of-Pelagianism in the sixth century.

  11. steve martin says:

    You guys are right. I was a bit of a crank with my comments.

    I think the older I get, and with each new ‘How to’ book about the Christian faith, I get a bit more critical.

    Language is important. Doctrine is important. Of course we are not saved by it, but anything that gets us to turn inward (even unwittingly) can be hazerdous to our spiritual health.

  12. steve martin says:

    PS- I would rather sit on my duff and drink beer, trusting that Christ is my All in All, rather than run around ‘doing good’ and believing that I therefore must be growing spiritualy.

    That said, the Spirit inspires us to “do” whatever it is He inspires us to “do”.

    For us to pick out this or that and say, “now that is a good work”, is also not very Lutheran.

  13. Thomas says:

    Well, I agree to a point – providing, of course, that I make it clear that I don’t particularly care whether something is ‘Lutheran’ or not. Still, I have a caveat – some works are, in fact, ‘good’ while others are, well, not. If, for instance, you feel moved to use your millions to start hospitals for the poor, well, that’s most likely the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. You can at least make a good conjecture that such is the case, because providing for the poor is, well, something he just likes. This would make it a ‘good work’, the sort laid out for you before hand in Christ to the glory of the Father [if, that is, I remember Ephesians at all]. If, on the other hand, you feel inspired to make the next generation of flame thrower, well, that might come from elsewhere. I know, I know, ‘vocation’ and all that, which in recent decades and even centuries has degenerated to the point that it signifies whatever I find myself doing in the world. Like I said, I don’t much care about whether something is ‘Lutheran’ – though, to my bewilderment, many continue to call me ‘Lutheran’. Go figure.

  14. Chris Jones says:

    To be clear, Thomas, I don’t care any more than you do whether something is “Lutheran” or not (only whether it is Catholic and Apostolic). I only remarked on what is or is not Lutheran because Steve seems to have thought that being Lutheran would predispose one against ascesis. In other words, you can deprecate Christian ascesis if you like, but don’t claim the authority of Lutheranism for it.

    Also under the rubric of being clear, I’m not talking about “good works” in the sense of building hospitals for the poor — nothing that fancy or laudable — but simply about a Christian discipline of training in order that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts.

  15. Thomas says:

    Oh, I was responding to Steve, not you Chris. As for the building hospitals for the poor thing, ’tis the example that came to mind – ’twas trying to respond to Steve’s whole way of talking about ‘inspiration’ – it’s about discernment. So, again, if one is ‘inspired’ to do something like that, well, you can be pretty sure where the inspiration came from. Likewise, if you’re roaming about the house and suddenly feel the urge to read, oh, the Gospel of John, you might want to go with it. Again, none of it was directed at you – don’t know why you would think it was. Oh well – let’s both blame The Interthingy…

  16. steve martin says:

    Lutherans, Schmuthrens…sorry I brought it up.

    My mistake. Christians walk by faith not by sight. Christians live in the Spirit. Christians take up the tools of piety, but are not preoccupied with their spiritual growth but rather with the neighbor.

    None of us can know with certainty what is and what is not a good work.

    An innocent man hanging on a bloody cross certainly did not appear to anyone…to be good.

    Give me a real sinner who knows who and what he really is, over the pious man focused upon his spiritual growth…any day of the week.

  17. Thomas says:

    ‘Give me a sinner who knows who and what he really is’…etc…well, you got me there. All the same, ’tis not so wrong to hope that we might just grow into the fullness of the ‘stature of Christ’, beginning in some way with an intimation of such growth here and now. Then there’s all that stuff in John’s letters and Gospel about purifying ourselves…won’t even get into that.

  18. Rick Ritchie says:

    I think I construe the question differently. If someone asks about spiritual growth with no context to define it, then knowing what most would mean these days, I’ll probably just be dead set against it, or say that only God can accomplish it in us. But when liturgical aids are part of the question, I figure a narrower kind of growth is in view. The question becomes, “What liturgical aids do you find most helpful in creating the kinds of valuable growth that liturgical aids can create?” Or something like that. It’s worth asking.

  19. Thomas says:

    Just for the record, since no one asked me, I find the whole question rather boring and nit-picking. It’s like we have to legalistically scrutinize everything lest we become legalistic and ‘works righteous’. Again and again I’ll say that we get to do stuff like liturgical worship and orders of prayer and good works for the poor and suchlike. It’s good for us, you know, and delightful and keeps us immersed in his word and works. So, no, nothing is necessary – he has done all we need – and yet he gives us so many good gifts, it would be a shame to let a little thing like our stupid tendency to warp ’em get in the way of just living from day to day in gratitude for the chances we get to pray, read scripture, work for others (and I mean really work for others, not that ‘I go to work at the brokerage and so serve my neighbor so I needn’t worry about anything else’ nonsense), all things that help us ‘grow’, if that’s the right word, into what we are in Christ in promise and hope.

    Or something like that.

    Peace out.

  20. steve martin says:

    “An innocent man hanging on a bloody cross certainly did not appear to anyone…to be good.”

    Sorry about that. I guess many of the day did think it good, just not in the way that we now know.

    Excellent points, Gentlemen. I think the whole thing is a matter of focus and emphasis.

    You know what…I really can be quite the crank!

    Forgive me.


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