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Study of the Divine Liturgy

Title: The Divine Liturgy: The Great Litany

Subject: The Divine Liturgy

Age: 8+ years

Liturgical Time: Any

Direct Aim: The primary goal of this study is to encourage an understanding and active participation in the prayers of the Divine Liturgy to create a richer worship experience.

Christian Worship in East and West
Living the Liturgy
Orthodox Worship
Life and Worship: The Mystery of Christ Among Us
The Divine Liturgy According to St. John Chrysostom
The Divine Liturgy for Children: An Interactive Guide for Participation in the Divine Liturgy

The Divine Liturgy can be divided into three parts: The Liturgy of Preparation, the Liturgy of the Word, and the Liturgy of the Faithful.

The Liturgy of Preparation:
During this time the Priests and Deacons recite prayers before the Icons and put on their vestments. The bread and wine, which will become the Body and Blood of Christ, are also prepared for their transformation into the Body and Blood of our Risen Lord.

The Liturgy of the Word
This part of the Liturgy consists of petitions, supplications, psalms, the readings of the Epistle and Gospel, followed by a sermon or homily.

The Liturgy of the Faithful
This is the final portion of the Liturgy, in which our ascent into the Kingdom is made complete, the bread and wine are consecrated and the faithful receive Holy Communion, the very Body and Blood of Christ Himself!

Our primary focus for this study will be on those short prayers that the Church entitles The Great Litany, found within the section of The Liturgy of the Word. The Great Litany is found immediately after the exclamation made by the main celebrant: "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Pgs 1-3 in the Pew book)."

Beauty, wisdom, and understanding are found in these inspired prayers, for they cover numerous themes of human life. There is a certain "fill in the blank" aspect to these prayers. They give each of us an opportunity to participate, to express our feelings, our struggles, our pain, our needs and concerns to the Lord. While the Deacon or Priest prays these prayers, they entreat us with him, to beseech the Lord God for our common request. We voice our agreement when we say all together, "Lord Have Mercy!" The next few weeks will bring an opportunity for each of us to discuss and think through our responses to these requests or petitions for prayer. By studying a portion of our Liturgy, we will be better prepared to worship our Lord.

Within the Great Litany we will find the opportunity to pray for ourselves, the Church and our brethren in Christ, and the world around us.

Brainstorm with family and friends how you might pray for others.
Make a prayer list to bring to Liturgy for the Great Litany.
Memorize the petitions and pray them in your daily prayers.
Learn the scriptural passages that are related to each petition.

Lesson 1 A Prayer for Peace
"In Peace let us pray to the Lord…" & "…For the peace from above. . ." In these prayers we are directed to seek God in Peace. He is calling us to stillness of the soul, quietness of the mind, and separation of ourselves from earthly cares and tensions. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, let your requests be known to God; & the peace of God…will guard your hearts & minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6)." We pray that the Lord will grant us the ability to focus in Peace on Him during this time. We pray not for earthly peace, but for the "peace from above." Here we are requesting a divinely appointed peace, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you…(John 14:27)" He who is PEACE desires communion with our inmost being.

A Prayer for salvation

"…for the salvation of our souls…" No other thing in life can be more important than our salvation. It must be our chief aim! St. Paul says, "whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13)." Our main vocation in life should be to call on His name regularly. By this prayer we are saying that we want a transformation to take place in the depth of our souls. Our whole being is in need of healing. We should ask ourselves: do we want to get well; do we want to be healed?

A Prayer for World Peace

"…For the peace of the whole world…" Our prayer now turns outward to the "whole world!" It may seem hard for us to get our arms around the world – and it is! But by praying this we are requesting that Christ will Himself put His arms around it, drawing all humankind to himself, for "he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9)." Pray here for your friends or acquaintances who do not know Christ!

A Prayer for The Church

"…for the stability of the Holy Churches of God and the union of all..." Here we enter with Christ into the prayer He prayed, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they may be one in Us, that the world may believe that you sent Me…I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one…(John 17:20,23)." In this prayer, we pray for the health of the Church; that all will come into union with the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church.

A Prayer for our fellow worshipers:

"…For this Holy House and for those that enter with faith, reverence and the fear of God…" We pray for this Holy House, for truly this space, these walls, these Icons, the very air, etc., has been consecrated and made a Holy Place to our God. It is here we discover who we are as the Church. This is the Holy House of God and we who enter it are eternally connected to this house; for in a mystical fashion we also are this house! "You are God's building…let each one take care how he builds (I Corinthians 3:9)." So let us pray "for those that enter," that our entrance might be with spiritual eyes of faith and reverential awe, having been granted entrance before the almighty Christ-God Himself. "Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear…for God is a consuming fire (Hebrews12:28, 29)."

For each petition: make a list of people, situations, or things to pray for; "re-write" the petition in your own words; and locate the scriptural passage referenced and read and discuss its context.

Lesson 2 A Prayer for the Clergy :

"…for our Metropolitan Isaiah, our Deacons, and Priests & all the clergy…" Our Clergy have entered into the Sacramental ministry of the Lord and His Church. This is a heavy & awesome responsibility. They bless, they baptize, they chrismate, they consecrate, they forgive sins through Christ, they guide, they lead, they counsel, and they commemorate our dead. The Servants of God face many arrows and are targets of the Evil One. They are not the generals in battle that stay hidden in a well protected fortress where they can't be attacked by the enemy; they are on the front lines! They are the chief targets. We need to be diligent in praying for them and their families: "Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow…obey those who rule over you. . .be submissive, for they watch out for your souls as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief for that would be unprofitable for you (Hebrews 13:7,17)." See also I Thessalonians 5:12,13.

A Prayer for our Brethren the Faithful:

"…and all our brethren in Christ…" and "…for this city & country, and for the faithful who dwell in them…" Let us not forget that our fellow Christians need our prayers. Find out what they are facing in their lives and pray for them. Ask somebody today, "what things are you facing for which I could pray for you?" Here we are to remember all the faithful here in our city, in America, and throughout the world. We pray for one another that we will remain faithful to Christ & ever grow in holiness. "…Pray for one another that you may be healed (James 5:12)."

A Prayer for our President, Civil Authorities, & Armed Forces:

"…for our President and for all civil authorities and for our armed forces everywhere…" "…I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority (I Timothy 2:1)." One reason we pray for this, "that we might lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and reverence (I Timothy 2:2)." Whether we agree with our President, Vice President, Legislators, or even voted for them, our Church asks us to pray for them. We are reminded also to pray for our Armed Forces. Maybe we could take the time to get the names of those whose sons and daughters are serving on our behalf; and then pray for them regularly.

A Prayer for life's necessities:

"…For seasonable weather, for the abundance of the fruits of the earth and for peaceful times." The process of making a living and a life can have its struggles, disappointments, and challenges. So we pray for favorable circumstances, a favorable harvest, for jobs, raises, etc. Christ is interested in all aspects of our daily life. And we pray that these needs may be met without constant running, struggle and life lived on the edge; but rather fun times, quiet times, teaching times, worshipful times, and quality times. "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced it's fruit (James 5:17,18)."

For each petition, make a list of people, situations, or things to pray for; "re-write" the petition in your own words; and locate the scriptural passage referenced and read and discuss its context.

Lesson 3
A Prayer for travel :

"…For those that travel by land, sea, and air…" Traveling brings with it many dangers and temptations. Remember the traveler in the story of "The Good Samaritan!" It is amazing how much we travel; to church, to school, to work, to shop. One Orthodox Priest actually calls forward the members of his congregation who will be traveling and prays special prayers for them. The highways and the byways are treacherous! Remember to pray!

A Prayer for the sick & the suffering:

"…for the sick and the Suffering.." "For you are the Physician of our souls and bodies, and to you do we give glory…"(Orthodox Prayer). Christ had a special place in His heart for the poor, the sick, and the suffering. He empathized, sympathized, had compassion upon them, touched them, encouraged them and gave them hope through His real & healing presence. It is our great privilege to take a list of names to the Table of Preparation prior to the Liturgy. "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders (Clergy) of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. "And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up (James 5:14, 15)."

A Prayer for captives:

"…for captives and their salvation…" Can you think of someone who is a captive in some way or another to; fear, mental illness, depression, drugs, alcohol, pornography, an immoral relationship, or another sinful passion? Maybe you know of someone who is in prison for a crime; or maybe for their faith! "I was in prison and you came to me (Matthew 25:36)." Gong Shengliang, founder and pastor of the South China Church was sentenced to be executed last December, but a retrial was ordered. The second trial resulted in a sentence of life in prison. He has been severely beaten and cannot communicate verbally with his family. Shabaz Kaka, of Pakistan, was arrested in September 2004, when mosque leaders saw the cross he was wearing and questioned him as he visited the restroom during a break on a bus ride. They fabricated an accusation that he had desecrated the Koran. He has been sentenced to life in prison (all accounts taken from Voice of the Martyrs). Many Orthodox Christians live under daily persecution, unable to practice their faith openly or without harm to their selves, families, or their homes! Or own parish has members who have suffered first hand for their faith.

A Prayer for deliverance & Divine Assistance :

"…For our deliverance from all tribulation, wrath, danger, and necessity…" and "…help us, save us, have mercy upon us, and protect us oh God by your grace…" "You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God (Psalm 40:17)." "This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles (Psalm 34:6)." We pray to God regularly that He will, "deliver us from evil." We live in a sinful and fallen world and the god of this world is Satan, whose name is destroyer. Recognizing our weaknesses and our vulnerability we cry out often, "deliver us Oh Lord, help us, save us, have mercy on us, and protect us Oh God by Your grace."

For each petition, make a list of people, situations, or things to pray for; "re-write" the petition in your own words; and locate the scriptural passage referenced and read and discuss its context.


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The Prophecies  


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