On Pentecost Sunday evening, at the vespers service for Monday, the Kneeling Prayers of Pentecost are said by the priest. This is done once a year, usually straight after the Pentecost Liturgy, and involve a number of profound, but long, prayers that the priest reads whilst kneeling. This is the first time, since Easter, that we kneel in church.
Here, in booklet form and online, is a version of the kneeling prayers arranged to be said at home, without a priest present. It is worth reading these prayers at home because as well as being prayers, they are also theologically rich, and present us who read them with the doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and the nature of the Holy Spirit.
The First Prayer is addressed to God the Father. He is the source of all life, including the life of the Trinity. So all our prayers ultimately end up in the heart of God our Father. Here in this opening prayer we recognize the great gift of God’s goodness to us and for our salvation – namely our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The Second Prayer is addressed to Christ but emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in keeping us united to Jesus Christ and His commandments, particularly in being illumined.
The Third Prayer is addressed to Christ again but is more theological in its statements about the Incarnation and the work of the Holy Spirit; worth meditating upon. There are also prayers offered to the departed including, almost without precedent in the Orthodox Church, prayers for those in Hell.
The Kneeling Prayers
THE FIRST PRAYER
To God the Father
(Said while kneeling): O Lord, Who art immaculate, spotless, without beginning, invisible, incomprehensible, inscrutable, unchanging, unsurpassable, immeasurable, forbearing,
Who alone hast immortality, Who dwellest in light unapproachable,
Who hast made heaven and earth and the sea, and all created things therein, Who grantest unto all men their petitions before they ask,
We pray Thee and beseech Thee, O Master, Who lovest man, the Father of our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and of Mary the Ever-virgin and most glorious Mother of God,
Who first did teach in words and afterwards did show by deeds, when He endured His saving Passion,
Who did give us, Thy humble, and sinful, and unworthy servants, an example, whereby we should offer unto Thee prayers with the bending of the neck and the knees, both for our own sins and for the ignorance of the people;
Do Thou Thyself, Who art great in mercy and lovest man, hear us in that day when we shall call upon Thee, and especially on this day of Pentecost, on which, after our Lord Jesus Christ had ascended into the heavens, and had sat down at the right hand of Thee, the God and Father, He did send down the Holy Spirit upon His holy disciples and apostles,
Which did also sit upon each of them, and they were all filled with His inexhaustible grace,
And they spake with other tongues of Thy greatness, and they prophesied.
Hearken, therefore, to us now who pray to Thee, and remember us, humble and condemned as we are, and turn back the captivity of our souls, Thou Who hast Thine own compassion as intercessor for us.
Receive us who fall down before Thee and cry: “We have sinned.” We have cleaved unto Thee from our birth, even from our mother’s womb. Thou art our God, but since our days have passed in vanity, we have been stripped of Thine help, we have been deprived of every defence.
But emboldened by Thy compassion, we call out, Remember not the sins of our youth, nor our ignorance, and cleanse Thou us of our secret sins,
Cast us not away in time of old age; when our strength fails, forsake us not.
Before we return to the earth, make us worthy to turn again unto Thee, and attend to us in favour and grace.
Measure our transgressions according to Thy compassion, set the depth of Thy compassion against the multitude of our offenses.
Look down from Thy holy heights, O Lord, upon Thy people here present who await Thy rich mercy.
Visit us in Thy goodness.
Deliver us from the power of the Devil.
Make firm our lives with Thy holy and sacred laws.
Entrust Thy people to a faithful guardian Angel.
Gather us all into Thy kingdom.
Grant pardon to those that hope in Thee.
Forgive them and us our sins.
Purify us by the operation of Thy Holy Spirit.
Destroy the snares set for us by the enemy.
And then add the following prayer:
Blessed art thou, 0 Lord, Master Almighty, who hast illumined the day with the light of the sun, and hast made bright the night with the brilliant flashes of the lightning; who hast graciously enabled us to pass through the long day, and to draw near to the beginning of the night.
Hear our petitions,- and the petitions of all thy people, and granting pardon unto us for all our sins, both voluntary and involuntary, accept our evening prayers, and send down the multitude of thy mercy and thy bounties upon thine inheritance.
Guard us with thy holy Angels. Arm us with the armour of thy righteousness. Encompass us round about with the ramparts of thy truth. Guard us by thy might. Deliver us from every assault, and from
every treacherous plot of the adversary. Amen.
Lord have mercy (thrice)
THE SECOND PRAYER
To Our Lord Jesus Christ
(Said while kneeling): 0 Lord Jesus Christ our God, who hast bestowed upon men thy peace and the gift of thy Holy Spirit;
Who, while thou wast yet with us in this present life, didst give unto thy faithful people an inheritance which shall not be taken away from them for ever;
Who this day didst send down thy grace upon thy disciples and apostles, in manner most clear, and didst furnish their lips with fiery tongues;
By whom now, we also, together with all mankind, having received, through the hearing of our own ears divine knowledge in our own tongues, have been illumined with the light of the Spirit, and have put away the delusion of darkness by the distribution of the material and visible tongues of fire,
As also by the marvellous operation of the same, whereby we have been inspired with faith toward thee, and to glorify thee, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit in one Godhead and might; and have been enlightened with power:
Do thou, who art the Brightness of the Father, of his Essence and his Nature the Express and Immutable Image, the Fountain of Wisdom and of Grace,
Open the lips of me, a sinner, and teach me in what manner and for what needs I ought to pray;
For thou hast said, 0 Master: whatsoever a man shall ask in thy Name, that shall he freely receive from thy God and Father, who is from everlasting.
Wherefore, I, also, a sinner, at this descent of thy Holy Spirit, do entreat thy goodness; that thou wilt grant me whatsoever things I have asked which are unto salvation.
Yea, 0 Lord, the bounteous Giver of every benefit, and the Distributor of blessings, - for it is thou who givest most bountifully unto those who ask of thee, - thou art full of pity and gracious, and also wast made a partaker of our flesh, yet without sin, and dost incline thine ear with infinite lovingkindness unto those who bow the knee before thee; Who, also, wast made the Propitiation for our sins.
Wherefore, 0 Lord, grant thy bounties unto thy people. Hearken unto us from thy holy heaven.
Sanctify us by the saving might of thy right hand.
Cover us with the shelter of thy wings; and despise thou not the work of thy hands.
Unto thee alone have we sinned, but thee alone do we serve.
We know not to adore a strange god, neither have we stretched out our hands, 0 Lord, unto any other god.
Pardon our iniquities, and accept this our prayer, which we make unto thee on bended knees.
Extend unto us all the hand of thine aid.
Receive the petitions of all men, as it were incense well-pleasing, acceptable before thine all-blessed kingdom.
And then add the following prayer:
0 Lord, Lord, who deliverest us from all the arrows that fly by day, deliver thou us, also, from all things that infest the darkness.
Accept our evening sacrifice, even the lifting-up of our hands. Grant that we may pass through the course of the night without sin, untempted of evil things;
And deliver us from every alarm and cowardice that cometh to us from the Devil. Grant unto our souls contrition, and unto our minds anxiety concerning that strict searching out of the thoughts, which shall come in the dread and just Day of Judgment.
Nail our flesh to the fear of thee, and mortify our earthly members: that, in the quietness of sleep, we may be illuminated by the vision of thy judgments.
Remove from us, also, every unseemly imagination and hurtful carnal passion.
Raise us up again at the hour of prayer, fortified in the faith, and advancing in thy commandments. Amen.
Lord have mercy. (thrice)
THE THIRD PRAYER
To Our Lord Jesus Christ
(Said while kneeling): 0 Fountain, ever-flowing, living, illumining; Power creative, coeternal with the Father, 0 Christ our God, who hast most excellently fulfilled all the plan for the salvation of mankind;
Who didst shatter the bonds indestructible of Death, and the bolts of Hell, and didst trample underfoot a host of evil spirits;
Who didst offer thyself a blameless victim for us, giving thine all-holy body for a sacrifice inviolate, and unassailed of every sin, and who, through that fearsome and ineffable act of sacrifice, didst bestow upon us life eternal; who didst descend into Hell, and break the everlasting bars, and show a way up unto those who abode in the lower world;
And having enticed, by divinely wise allurements, the origin of mischief and the serpent of the abyss, and bound him with cords of nethermost gloom and fire unquenchable in Tartarus,
And confined him in outer darkness, by thine infinite and fettering might, 0 Wisdom greatly glorified of the Father, thou didst manifest thyself as a mighty helper of the assailed; and didst enlighten those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Do thou, 0 Lord of the everlasting glory and Son beloved of the Father most high, Light Eternal of Light Eternal, the Sun of Righteousness, hear us, who now make our fervent supplications unto thee,
And give rest to the souls of thy servants our fathers and brethren, and our other kinsmen after the flesh and of all who are of the household of faith, who have fallen asleep, and whom we now call to remembrance.
For thou hast power over all things, and in thy hand thou upholdest all the ends of the earth.
0 Master Almighty, the God of our fathers and Lord of mercy, Creator of the race of mortals and immortals, and of every nature of man; of that which is brought together and is again put asunder; of life and of death; of sojourn in the world that now is, and of translation to the world which is to come:
Thou measure out the years of life, and appoint the time of death; thou bringest down to Hell, and again raisest up;
Thou bindest unto impotency and loosest unto power, ordering things present according to their necessity, and appointing things to come as is expedient, quickening with the hope of Resurrection those who were smitten with the sting of death.
For thou art, of a truth, the Master of all men, 0 God our Saviour, the hope of all the ends of the earth, and of those who are afar off upon the sea;
Who, on this last, and great, and redeeming day of the Pentecostal feast, didst reveal unto us the mystery of the Holy Trinity, one in Essence, coeternal, undivided and unmingled; and didst pour out the indwelling and descent of thy holy and life-giving Spirit, in the form of tongues of fire, upon thy holy apostles; and didst appoint the same to be the heralds of the glad tidings of our holy faith; and didst make them confessors and teachers of the true divine knowledge;
Who, also, on this all-perfect and saving Feast, art graciously pleased to accept propitiatory prayers for those who are imprisoned in Hell, promising unto us who are held in bondage great hope of release from the vileness that doth hinder us and did hinder them; and that thou wilt send down thy consolation.
Hear us, thy humble ones, who make our supplications unto thee, and give rest to the souls of thy servants who have fallen asleep,
In a place of light, a place of verdure, a place of refreshment whence all sickness, sorrow and sighing have fled away:
And establish thou their souls in the mansions of the Just; and graciously vouchsafe unto them peace and pardon;
For the dead shall not praise thee, 0 Lord, neither shall they who are in Hell make bold to offer unto thee confession. But we who are living will bless thee, and will pray, and offer unto thee propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for their souls.
And then add the following prayer:
0 God great and eternal, who art holy and lovest mankind; who hast vouchsafed unto us at this present hour to stand before thine ineffable glory, and to sing and to praise thy wonders:
Purify us, thine unworthy servants, and grant us grace that, with a contrite heart, and without presumption, we may offer unto thee the Thrice-Holy hymn of praise and thanksgiving for thy great gifts, which thou hast bestowed and always dost bestow upon us.
Remember, 0 Lord, our weakness, and destroy us not in our iniquity, but show great mercy upon our humility; that, fleeing from the darkness of sin, we may walk in the daylight of righteousness;
And that, putting on the armour of light, we may remain unassailed by any spiteful attack of the Evil One, and with boldness may glorify in all things thee, the only true God, who also lovest mankind.
Wherefore, 0 Master, receive thou our prayers and supplications, and give rest unto the fathers, mothers, children, brothers, and sisters, blood-relations and kinsfolk of each and all of us, and unto all souls which have fallen asleep before us;
And establish their spirits in the hope of Resurrection unto life eternal, and inscribe their names in the Book of Life, in the bosom of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, and in the land of the living, in the kingdom of heaven, in the Paradise of sweetness; by thy radiant Angels guiding all into thy holy mansions; raising up with thee, also, our bodies, in that day which thou hast appointed by thy holy and faithful promise.
Because there is no death, 0 Lord, for thy servants when we depart from the body and come unto thee, our God, but a change from things very sorrowful unto things most benignant and most sweet, and unto repose and gladness.
If, therefore, we have in anything transgressed against thee, be merciful unto us and unto them; because there is no one pure from stain in thy sight, even for a single day of his life, save thou alone, who didst manifest thyself sinless upon earth, 0 our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom also we all trust to receive mercy and the remission of our sins.
Wherefore, in that thou art a gracious God and lovest mankind, do thou, both to them and to us, pardon, remit, forgive our sins, both voluntary and involuntary, which we have committed whether wilfully or through ignorance; whether those which are manifest or those which have escaped our notice; whether of deed, or of thought, or of word, whatsoever they may be, in all our acts and lives.
And unto the departed also grant thou release and pardon; and bless us who are here present, granting unto us, and to all thy people, a good and peaceful ending, and opening unto us the tenderness of thy mercy and love toward mankind at thy dread and terrible Second Coming;
And make us worthy of thy kingdom.