The Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina

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I have loved this prayer for years and found it essential in beginning the day. Key phrases have a way of coming back throughout the events of each day. It is worth committing to heart.

O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming day brings to me with spiritual tranquility. Grant that I may fully surrender myself to Thy holy Will.

At every hour of this day, direct and support me in all things. Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day, teach me to accept it with a calm soul and the firm conviction that all is subject to Thy holy Will.

Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions. In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget that all is sent down from Thee.

Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone.

O Lord, grant me the strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love. Amen.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.



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15 responses to “The Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina”

  1. Athanasia Avatar
    Athanasia

    This is a beautiful prayer.

    “In all unexpected occurrences…all is sent down from Thee.” The latter is the hardest part for me to learn.

  2. fatherstephen Avatar

    Yes. And to believe that He only means me good in sending whatever is sent. But without this, I don’t think we will ever know peace in our heart.

  3. Athanasia Avatar
    Athanasia

    That would be the truest thing I’ve heard in a long time. We metaphorically writhe in pain when so many “bad” things happen in our lives. Somehow we must trust Him, that He means good. But it is hard to do when one buries their husband at a young age, or there son is severely depressed and not caring for himself, or what ever.

    It is true, now we see through a glass darkly. The challenge is to trust God while our vision is limited.

  4. fatherstephen Avatar
    fatherstephen

    I think there are situations that to confess God’s goodness is indeed a sheer act of faith. I have buried the young, and seen many of the things that crush us. And yet, I believe that in all of that it is even more important to believe and confess that God is good – else life crush us completely.

    I believe this “good confession” is possible because I’ve seen it, witnessed it in others. I think often of the “good thief” who on the cross (one of life’s crushing situations) called out to Christ and “in a single moment” found paradise. I think of him often and pray to find paradise. May God give us all the grace to make the “good confession” amidst everything we encounter. May paradise consume us.

  5. Meg Lark Avatar
    Meg Lark

    I once read of a Russian babushka who said to her priest in tears, “God has forgotten me, Batiushka — He hasn’t sent me any trials lately.”

    The Prayer of the Optina Elders is one of my favorites.

  6. Theophano Durr Avatar
    Theophano Durr

    Fr. Stephan,
    Bless
    Your site has touched my soul. I am so glad to have found it. I believe this prayer: ” Prayer at the Beginning of the Day” is by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, d. 1867. In the USA 1983 St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press published edition of A MANUAL OF EASTERN ORTHODOX PRAYERS, pg.20
    It is a beautiful prayer.

    This prayer has also touched my heart yet I struggle with the thought that “In all unexpected occurrences…all is sent down from Thee” does that mean crime, war, murder, children suffering, ect are sent to us by God. When most often it these things are caused by human being or by nature. Is the situation in the middle East sent by God.

    These are some of my thougths as I struggle to understand where is God when bad things happen. It is so much easier to give God praise for the good events of life.

    Still the ending gives me the strength to believe:
    O Lord, grant me the strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love. Amen.

    In Christ
    Theophano

  7. fatherstephen Avatar
    fatherstephen

    I certainly do not think that we are to believe that wars, or any human sin is sent from God (for God does not tempt anyone)

    James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; 14 but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

    Nevertheless, I think it is quite possible for us to see in these situations that God has not abandoned us. When Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers (it’s certainly always a sin to sell your brother into slavery) he said later to his brothers, “You meant this to me for evil, but the Lord meant it to me for good.” We cannot say that God caused his brothers to sin, but nevertheless the good God brought good from their actions (in spite of them – indeed his goodness saved the very ones who had done the evil). Also we can think of Romans 8:28 “All things work together for good for those who loved God, who are called according to his purpose.”

    I do not think that God is the cause of man’s evil, by any means, but I do not think man’s evil can take me away from the goodness God intends me. Thus in all things, I am commanded to give thanks (Ephesians 5:20).

    This prayer is quite similar to the one of St. Philaret of Moscow. In the St. Tikhon’s prayer book it is called the “Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina.”

    There is much to be said and pondered in all of this. The goodness of God is finally triumphant.

  8. Priest Matthew Jackson Avatar

    We like to say that God allows bad things to happen (and the Greeks also prefer to speak with this language). But if we want to stick to the Semitic mindset, and the language of the Bible, God sends all things that happen (the Greek Fathers do use this language on occasion, and you will find it heavily in such Fathers as Isaac the Syrian, but primarily it is the language of the Bible). He calls Nebuchadnezzar “My servant,” He repents (changes His mind) from the evil He intended to send Nineveh (in Jonah), He repents at the evil of the flood…the examples go on. The point—God is in charge of everything, period. He sends it, or He stops it. But whether we want to use the word “send” or the word “allow,” the fact of Who God Is makes these things mean the same thing. If it happens, it happens under the watchful eye of the Creator. Whether He sends it, or allows it and means it for our good, what is the difference, really? (Think of Job—God allows Satan to tempt Job, but remember that it was God who brought Job to the attention of Satan in the first place!) And this is where Fathers like St. Anthony the Great will say that we can go no further. Who are we to question the will of Almighty God? And this is the thing we hold on to—God is God, we have no business questioning His will, but rather we submit wholly to our Creator. We rest in the knowledge that all things are from Him, and that His desire is that all men be saved. Therefore we know that all things are happening so that all men might be saved, so that all men might know that God is the Lord. It is much easier to rejoice in goodness, but we’re told to give thanks for all things, whether we understand/like them or not. And this is because all things are in God’s hands—to refuse to give thanks in hard times is equivalent to judging God. “In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all things are sent by Thee.”

  9. fatherstephen Avatar

    Well said, Father, thank you.

  10. Mark Avatar
    Mark

    In listening to Father Hopko’s recordings, a few things he said helped me with this issue. He said God is not “in charge” completely and that he does not will evil. Our free will and separation from God leads to sin and evil actions. His take (in my view) was that God is doing the best he can with what he has in our fallen and broken state. That we in our brokenness, don’t really give him a lot to work with, and that evil and sin are products of our fallen will. However, he used the word “providence” to describe His relationship to all his creation and the outcomes I suppose. That he is “over” all even the evil created by his creations. (my words) His view helped me with that perennial question of Christians, non Christian, secular’s etc. ” Why doe’s God allow all this?” He doesn’t have an option.

  11. Gabriella Nagy Avatar
    Gabriella Nagy

    I am happy I found this prayer in English to share with friends in English. The Carmelite nuns in Magyarszék near where I live in Pécs, Hungary, say this daily prayer together and shared it with me first.

  12. Emiliya Avatar
    Emiliya

    I am an orthodox author. I say this prayer everyday. I must say it really brings me a peace. I have also included this prayer in my book that I am still working on.
    https://www.amazon.com/Emiliya-Ahmadova/e/B01N3BIZLE?ref

  13. Tina Avatar
    Tina

    My first time reading this absolutely beautifully endearing prayer was just a few days ago in a prayer book. After taking a screenshot I posted it on Twitter, to which it got a large response in retweets (because honestly, Social Media needs the goodness of God, right?). I also sent it to an Old School Catholic Nun, which she later told me, she promptly shared with several others. I hold these kinds of positive, uplifting, endearing prayers and whatever ‘sweet’ chants I can find (such as the Valaam Brethren Choir version of “Have Mercy on Us”) dear, as they help me to focus on ALL THE GOOD which is available, through our Gracious and Merciful God.

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