Prayer in Orthodox Christianity

Christ Pantocrator, detail of the Deesis mosaic
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The Holy Bible records Jesus ascending into heaven, having entrusted the care of His Church into the hands of his disciples. This group of men and women would become the first church, filled with the resurrection enthusiasm of their Messiah while attempting to live out his teaching and mission in practical ways.

A large part of the private prayers of its members followed typical Hebrew format. Praying three times a day became the daily office of the person, though, instead of a community encouraged practice. This adaptation was largely due to the problem that Christianity had not yet become a country-endorsed religion. Prayer was frequently found in the gatherings of the early church, offered frequently throughout the worship service with the Lord’s Prayer taking its place as the anchor – a common ritual in each gathering. This was due to the following reasons:

* A response to the many growing heresies.
* A summarizing of the whole New Testament just as the Ten Commandments had summarized the Old.
* A catalyst for community intercession and connection.

Elements of the oldest Christian liturgies may be found in liturgies such as the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, the Lutheran Divine Service, and Anglican sermons. Seasonal orthodox prayers such as found in the Breviary, which provides prayer for each liturgical season including Advent, Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, as well as the other parts of the liturgical year.

In Orthodox tradition, prayers of petition may be addressed to saints. It is understood that the saints answer such prayers by means of their own prayers to God on behalf of the petitioner. The help of God may be done in a form of Miracles. Orthodox Christians believe that prayers for the dead are efficacious; for this reason, requiem Masses are offered for the repose of the faithful departed. Eastern Orthodoxy rejects the notion of Purgatory, but offers prayers for the dead asking God to have mercy upon them; in particular, that tradition believes that Christians who have died remain part of the Church, and as such are both able to pray and to receive the benefits of prayer for them, whatever those may be.

There is no one prayerbook containing a set liturgy used by all Christians; however many Christian denominations have their own local prayerbooks.

Source: Articles Directory

About the Author

Ivan Mazurenko is a permanent writer on the subject of Orthodox Church for several journals. For more information browse our site dedicated to Christian history. Ivan Mazurenko is a doctor and writer on the subject of Saints and Church. For more information browse our site dedicated to sermons.




  1. The problem with liturgy is that it becomes repititious. There is nothing wrong with using it as a reference source: after all, it represents the spiritual understanding of many generations of Christians. However, once one repeats the same words over and over again too frequently, the words themselves become meaningless. That is why it is more profitable to read the Bible directly and meditate on it (Psalm 119:15-16). Jesus Himself warned about too much rote repitition, especially in public (Matthew 6:5). He recommends that prayer be a personal, private affair (Matthew 6:6).


  2. What an intriguing post!

    Speaking of “Prayer in Orthodox Christianity,” I was wondering if you’ve heard of the upcoming documentary, “Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer?”

    It’s been garnering a lot of attention lately, and I think you may want to check it out!

    You can learn more about the film at:

    Should you have any questions, send them to I’ve found the MJP interns to be great (and prompt!) with their responses!


  3. Great post. I am becoming Eastern Catholic, so of course I understand a lot of the traditions of the Orthodox church as well. I grew up in churches that were very different (all of them different denominations, none of them Catholic or Orthodox) and after all my experience with the church I strongly believe that there isn’t one way to worship. So, to Daniel I’d have to say that you can really only speak for yourself. If repetition becomes meaningless to you, then worship in your own way and appreciate what God does for you through your worship. I believe that it does you good. But an Orthodox Christian or a Catholic who has chosen a more liturgical tradition can find plenty of meaning in the liturgy and can grow spiritually as much as you can. God speaks to us each in different ways because thankfully He created us all with different minds.


  4. “once one repeats the same words over and over again too frequently, the words themselves become meaningless.”

    I agree with zane. Catholics also say that they don’t take one or two lines from scripture but interpret the Bible according to the whole book, along with the ongoing guidance of the Holy Spirit. And there’s a Biblical reference to support that approach too!

    Bottom line: We have to find what works for us. And not get all uptight if someone else finds a different way to commune with God.


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