Friday, June 1, 2012

A Suggested Prayer Rule

In trying to incorporate the prayer rule given by St. Seraphim of Sarov for busy people into my own life, I've devised my own rule that has proven very helpful for me.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, St. Seraphim recommend that busy folks living in the world should pray three "Our Fathers," three "Hail, Virgin Theotokos" (or Hail Marys), and the Nicene Creed three times a day; once upon rising, once before lunch, and once in the evening. Prior to lunch he also recommends saying some form of the Jesus Prayer, and after lunch he recommends praying either "Most Holy Theotokos, save me (a sinner)," or "Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of the Theotokos, have mercy on me (a sinner)."

Thinking of this, along with his encouragement that one pray the Prayer Rule of the Theotokos daily, I have set my own rhythm of daily prayer. In the morning, after I've prayed my three "Our Fathers," etc., I will either go about my business praying the short form of the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me), or I will sit down and take the time to pray the Prayer Rule of St. Pachomius. In the afternoon, while I'm taking my children for a walk, I'll pray the following rule:

Beginning with an "Our Father" I will pray the first five decades of the Prayer Rule of the Theotokos according to St. Seraphim of Sarov's usage. Since I use a 150 knot prayer rope I will finish the remaining 100 knots with the prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of the Theotokos, have mercy on me," or if I'm pressed for time and/or attention, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me." I finish the rule off with the prayer: "It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos, who are ever-blessed and all-blameless and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, you with without corruption did bear God the Word, you are truly Theotokos, we magnify you."

I'll admit upfront that the above rule is a concession to my own weakness. Even while growing up I had a hard time focusing while praying the rosary. I've found that I can barely get out five decades without my mind or imagination wandering from one thing to another. I have a much easier time focusing with the Jesus Prayer. But I do want to honor our Blessed Mother, the Theotokos and ever-Virgin Mary, and request her wishes that this Rule of the Theotokos/rosary be prayed daily. So I pray the short version.

I also do this because the only time I get to pray it is when I take the kids outside for a walk. I usually have just enough time to pray this short version of the Rule of the Theotokos/rosary along with 100 Jesus Prayers before the walk has ended at it's time for me to get back to my daily work.

So I present this little rule for any of you to try out, if you're so inclined. Being faithful to it over the past few weeks has enriched my spiritual life a great deal. I hope and pray others will also find it enriching.

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