Repentance for the World – Prayers by the Lake XXIX

This xxix prayer of St. Nicholai of Zicha from Prayers by the Lake, echoing the prayers of Pentecost should give us all hope in our sins as we seek the merciful God.
For all the sins of men I repent before You, Most Merciful Lord. Indeed, the seed of all sins flows in my blood! With my effort and Your mercy I choke this wicked crop of weeds day and night, so that no tare may sprout in the field of the Lord, but only pure wheat.1

I repent for all those who are worried, who stagger under a burden of worries and do not know that they should put all their worries on You. For feeble man even the most minor worry is unbearable, but for You a mountain of worries is like a snowball thrown into a fiery furnace.

I repent for all the sick, for sickness is the fruit of sin. When the soul is cleansed with repentance, sickness disappears with sin, and You, my Eternal Health, take up Your abode in the soul.

I repent for unbelievers, who through their unbelief amass worries and sicknesses both on themselves and on their friends.

I repent for all those who blaspheme God, who blaspheme against You without knowing that they are blaspheming against the Master, who clothes them and feeds them.

I repent for all the slayers of men, who take the life of another to preserve their own. Forgive them, Most Merciful2 Lord, for they know not what they do. For they do not know that there are not two lives in the universe, but one, and that there are not two men in the universe, but one. Ah, how dead are those who cut the heart in half!

I repent for all those who bear false witness, for in reality they are homicides and suicides.

For all my brothers who are thieves and who are hoarders of unneeded wealth I weep and sigh, for they have buried their soul and have nothing with which to go forth before You.

For all the arrogant and the boastful I weep and sigh, for before You they are like beggars with empty pockets.

For all drunkards and gluttons I weep and sigh, for they have become servants of their servants.

For all adulterers I repent, for they have betrayed the trust. of the Holy Spirit, who chose them to form new life through them. Instead, they turned serving life into destroying life.

For all gossipers I repent, for they have turned Your most precious gift, the gift of speech, into cheap sand.

For all those who destroy their neighbor’s hearth and home and their neighbor’s peace I repent and sigh, for they bring a curse on themselves and their people.

For all lying tongues, for all suspicious eyes, for all raging hearts, for all insatiable stomachs, for all darkened minds, for all ill will, for all unseemly thoughts, for all murderous emotions–I repent, weep and sigh.

For all the history of mankind from Adam to me, a sinner, I repent; for all history is in my blood. For I am in Adam and Adam is in me.

For all the worlds, large and small, that do not tremble before Your awesome presence, I weep and cry out: O Master Most Merciful, have mercy on me and save me!”


1. For the parable of the wheat and the tares, see Matt. 13:24-30.

2. Cf. Luke 23:34.




About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.





4 responses to “Repentance for the World – Prayers by the Lake XXIX”

  1. Guy Mengel Avatar
    Guy Mengel

    Father bless;
    Is it truly possible for us to repent for others? I am new to Orthodoxy and a Catechumen soon to be Chrismated so I am fairly tainted by past “knowledge” so called. I am (so far) much more concerned to start repentance (metanoia) on my own, much less than for others. It is a nice thought, but how does one actually do this? And does God actually value (probably the wrong term) our repentance for others. Sadly, the term supererogation comes to mind when I read this. But oh! if we could repent for others, what a thought!
    Kissing your right hand
    -a sinner

  2. fatherstephen Avatar

    If, in the Septuagint, you’ll read the Song of the Tree Young Men in Daniel, you see an excellent example of these great heroes of the faith offering repentance on behalf of their whole nation. It’s a common thing to offer repentance for oneself and for others.

  3. Mrs. Mutton Avatar
    Mrs. Mutton

    I was just thinking, I wish I had the luxury of repenting for others — I got enough of my own sins to even *learn* repentance for. Ah, well, that’s the difference between saints and the rest of us slugs.

  4. Wonders for Oyarsa Avatar

    I was just thinking, I wish I had the luxury of repenting for others — I got enough of my own sins to even *learn* repentance for. Ah, well, that’s the difference between saints and the rest of us slugs.

    Not to presume to speak for Orthodoxy (as I am only a lowly Anglican), but isn’t this the same as saying “I have a hard enough time praying to Jesus to worry about praying in the communion of Saints”? Wouldn’t the same response be that praying with others elevates our own personal prayers to Jesus? Wouldn’t repenting on behalf of others help us repent more fully for our own sins – especially considering others sins can often really be our own?

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