St. Nikolai Velimirovic – Prayers By the Lake

The following youtube broadcasts the texts of one of St. Nicholai’s prayers. May God bless us all and grant us the grace to desire Him alone.


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.


6 responses to “St. Nikolai Velimirovic – Prayers By the Lake”

  1. handmaidleah Avatar

    Father Bless!
    The forward to the book by St Nikolai (The Lord’s Prayer & Three Lessons of the Orthodox Faith) says: “..It is an originality of spirit, method and language which distinguishes it from any other interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer which I have read. It could not have been written by an Englishman…”

    This comment was made by the Archbishop of York in 1916. He continued by saying: “Its atmosphere is one in which our English temperament does not naturally live.”

    So much of what St Nikolai is able to teach us is born out of the life he led and the sufferings he endured. The country that raised and nurtured him has tread the path of suffering and martyrdom, that he should have an understanding of what is important in life, well, who is surprised?

    I agree with the Bishop of York that as no Englishman could have written such sublime prose, and no American could either. We are so blessed to count him as one of our own saints of North America. St Nikolai pray unto God for us!


  2. Milan Avatar

    The development of the theological thought of saint Nikolaj Velimirovic is quite complex. His contemporary researchers (one of the most important is father Radovan Bigovic, profesor and former dean of the faculty of Theology in Belgrade) accept that there are two important end different periods in his writing: 1. the “pre-Ochrid” period and 2. the “post-Ochrid” period. For the first period is so to say more “experimetal”, on a formal level it is more creative, but in the same time the writings from this period are at some points not in sccordiance with the orhodox theological tradition. In this period he is influenced by the panslavistic ideology on one hand, and the growing “New Age” movement on the other (especially while in London, where he first published his “Words for the Pan-human” during the I World War). From this period come the “Prayers on the Lake” also.

    After the War he becomes a Bishop of Ochrid (today in the Republic of Macedonia). In the same time he meets the hageoretic (from mounth Athos) Orthodox culture. From Athos and from Ochrid he gets the inspiration for all his following writings, in which he reaches a fascinating high level of “symphony” with the entire Orthodox Patristic tradition.

    The collected (but not complete) works of Holly biskop Nikolaj of Ochrid and Zica are published in 25 volumes, and the majority of them is from the “after-Ochrid” period. These are the writings he has written while being Bishop in Ochrid, then bishop in Zica, then during the II World War (while in the concentration camp Dahau), and after the war while in exile. He is definitely one of the most important representatives of the the 20-th century’s “new-patristic” thought, who diserves special attention in the contemporary Theology.

  3. fatherstephen Avatar


    I understood that Prayers by the Lake were more or less from the transitional period between the two.

  4. Milan Avatar

    That’s true (indeed, the “lake” from the headline is the Ochrid lake) Still there are some “moments” typical for the first period, but in this case they are obviously “fading away” (in the contrary to “Words for the Pan-human” for example). Therefore some researchers put the “Prayers” in the first period as as well. I must say that the writings from the period bitween the two world wars are “my favorite”. Here come: “Orthodoxy – above East and West” (thoughts very similar to father Alexander Shmemann’s writings on Religion and Secularism), “Theodul”, “Missionary Letters”, “Indian Leters”, “Beyond the Prison Window”… (I am not sure how correct are the translations of the titles, and I am also not sure which of them are available in English, but I guess it’s more or less understandible)

  5. AR Avatar

    It’s difficult to conceive of something more Orthodox than this prayer. It gets at the anguish that chews away at us all, mostly unnoticed, and explains it as the darkness of the soul that is sundered from God. Unlike most poems that talk about anguish, this one does so from a perspective that can only be comforting – the promise that it’s the result of an illusion that will be overcome. It’s so different when you hears things like this, and they are the obvious result of experience, not theory.

    If he speaks truly, it’s amazing when he says that he clings to the gaze of God. In my present state I could never tolerate the gaze of God long enough to cling to it. I do hope He clings to me.

  6. Mary Avatar

    AR said:

    If he speaks truly, it’s amazing when he says that he clings to the gaze of God. In my present state I could never tolerate the gaze of God long enough to cling to it. I do hope He clings to me.

    Amen! Amen! Amen!

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