At the Door of Thy Compassion

This prayer is printed and framed and hangs among the icons in my church office:

A Prayer of St. Isaac of Syria

isaac_of_syriaAt the door of Thy compassion do I knock, Lord; send aid to my scattered impulses which are intoxicated with the multitude of the passions and the power of darkness.

Thou canst see my sores hidden within me: stir up contrition – though not corresponding to the weight of my sins, for if I receive full awareness of the extent of my sins, Lord, my soul would be consumed by the bitter pain from them.

Assist my feeble stirrings on the path to true repentance, and may I find alleviation from the vehemence of sins through the contrition that comes of Thy gift, for without the power of Thy grace I am quite unable to enter within myself, become aware of my stains, and so, at the sight of them, be able to be still from great distraction.

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.





16 responses to “At the Door of Thy Compassion”

  1. […] At the Door of Thy Compassion « Glory to God for All Things – view page – cached This prayer is printed and framed and hangs among the icons in my church — From the page […]

  2. Paul Avatar

    Thank you, Father Stephen, for you posts these last few weeks, especially on prayer and on knowing God. This has encouraged me to seek the Lord who waits behind my theology. You are bringing many good Fathers into my life, ones that I would not have been able to listen to otherwise.

    Paul J

  3. Darlene Avatar

    Thank you, Father. Prayer in the Orthodox faith has opened up a whole, new way for me to pray. When we are aware of our feeble state and our besetting sins, it is enough to focus our attention on God and not our neighbor. Not that we should ignore our neighbor or our brethren, but rather, we should seek to upbuild and bring them closer to Christ. When we take the log out of our own eye, then we can more clearly see how to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.

  4. jo533281 Avatar

    Saint Isaac has done it again (and so have you Father, for bringing this to my attention).

    Every opportunity I have to read about St. Isaac is a blessing. Thank you Father for bringing together the bits and pieces of the Fathers that we (or should I say “I”) can bear. I know that plunging into their writings can be detrimental to my spiritual life if I go in unguided. It is good to be able to take in a small portion at a time, like medicine given in small doses.

  5. fatherstephen Avatar

    Well said. Years ago (when I was in college) having read The Way of a Pilgrim – I thought I absolutely had to have a copy of the Philokalia. Some of Ware’s translations were beginning to appear and I bought them. I read them – but clearly to no benefit. I tried to study them when I was in seminary – again to no benefit. They are extremely meaty volumes and can be read with benefit, I think, only with guidance and a little bit at a time. Interestingly, in the Way of a Pilgrim, the pilgrim’s elder appears to him in a dream and gives him just such guidance. But modern readers, like my young self, just wade in as if such were not needed in our own case.

    Those who read my blog regularly, probably begin to realize that I actually have very little to say, but that I say it in different ways, day by day. It’s because I also know very little – but would like to truly know the little that I know. And it is that “little” that I believe I have a responsibility to share.

    I’m glad you find it helpful. I find it helpful to digest it and write it. Fair trade.

  6. Yudikris Avatar


    very similar experience (about the books) here! Thanks for reminding me. Beautiful post!

  7. Yudikris Avatar

    clarification: I meant I wished to have lots of book to read (and thanks for the reminder in previous post:”You should never read more hours in a day than you pray”)and I find that you said it very true, Father.

    And personally, I praise the Lord that I have a friend who send me books very timely and thus useful and beneficial. 🙂

  8. Robert Avatar

    “Those who read my blog regularly, probably begin to realize that I actually have very little to say, but that I say it in different ways”

    That made me chuckle. Thank you.

  9. fatherstephen Avatar

    Glad it made you laugh – I meant it quite sincerely (though still it’s funny).

  10. Orev Avatar

    Father, I greatly appreciate hearing what you have to say in as many ways as you can say it! I, for one, greatly benefit from both repetition and rephrasing.
    The Orthodox concept of prayer is relatively new to me, and though I realize the depth of my need for it, I often find myself relapsing into a pusuit of knowledge and study habitual to me. This remains a struggle, particularly when I most need a depth of prayer that does not rely on my “self” or my rational mind. The times I most need non-self focused prayer are the times I find it hardest to pray the Church’s prayers instead of what comes from my own mind.
    Prayers such as this one by St. Isaac, and reminders such as ”You should never read more hours in a day than you pray,” are very helpful to me in this struggle.
    my thanks

  11. Lucy Avatar


    Is there a book that gathers in one place some of the prayers such as this one? I’m sure there are books with the prayers of one individual or another, but I think it would be nice to have a more broad spectrum available in one book. I have benefited greatly from the various prayers you have posted. I have printed out some to keep near me and have made use of Prayers by the Lake. But it just seems impossible for someone like me who has so little time for reading and research to find these treasures on my own. (And to be honest, I have had very little exposure to much of Orthodox thought and writings – I am one of those, perhaps rare, converts who required very little convincing to become Orthodox. My faith was so pathetic and difficult to maintain and my ideas about God so obviously deficient and wrong that it took only “dipping my toe in” to make me realize that I had two options: to be Orthodox or to stop trying to be a Christian. It still took a long time and I did more research into the faith than many non-Orthodox I know, but much, much, much less than most Orthodox converts. And then life – and children – happened and I had no time for reading!)

    So in that respect, I thank you very much for the prayers you have posted. I have encountered people and spirituality I might not have otherwise discovered, especially on the personal level of reading their very own prayers. Would it be possible to separate them out from your posts about prayer on your sidebar? (Maybe you’ve already done this and I haven’t noticed – I usually read your posts through my google reader.)

  12. […] Forgiveness and a not-completely-unrelated prayer. […]

  13. […] Forgiveness and a not-completely-unrelated prayer. […]

  14. fatherstephen Avatar

    I haven’t seen a volume that does this – though that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. I’ll be on the lookout and will post a connection if I run across one. I’ll also send the idea for such a volume along to some publisher friends.

  15. George Patsourakos Avatar

    This is a very inspiring prayer. It illustrate that if we truly repent to God for our sins, we will feel like we have been freed of a multitude of sins.

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