Praying for the World That Lives Within You

This XXIX prayer of St. Nicholai of Zicha from Prayers by the Lake, echoes the kneeling prayers of Pentecost, or perhaps, the Prayer of Manasseh… The “collective” voice that characterizes its petitions echo St. Silouan’s prayers for the “Whole Adam.” In a time of trouble (such as our days), we do well to learn this manner of prayer. It allows us to care, to love and reach out to God without darkening our hearts with judgment and condemnation. 


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. (Matt. 13:24-30.)

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 Merciful Lord, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34) 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!”

Photo by Rob Curran on Unsplash

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.



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15 responses to “Praying for the World That Lives Within You”

  1. Peter Avatar

    “What is wrong with the world?” you may ask.
    I reply “I am.”
    Glory to God for all things.

  2. Dino Avatar

    St. Nicholai was rightfully called by some ‘ the new Chrysostom’: a ‘golden mouth’ of recent times, of the same spiritual sweetness as Saints Silouan and Sophrony.
    Three compassionate intercessors, three spiritual giants, who knew each other.

  3. Kyriaki Avatar

    Today is the Day of Salvation!

    Dear Father,
    This is the second blog of yours I read today. The other one was about doing the good you can do in front of you. Both speak to the same issues and are so timely for the circumstances in my life in this moment.

    Thank you ~

  4. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Father, thank you for reminding us of the depth of the work of prayer and repentance.

  5. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Dear Father,
    Thank you for this prayer. We all need it, and God willing, we all pray these words.

  6. Margaret Avatar

    A true gift from Our Lord for me to read and reread this prayer. Thank you Fr Stephen!

  7. Lisa Avatar

    Thank you so much for this prayer. It seems very appropriate to pray on days of fasting especially to remember that to pray and fast is to repent. We repent with all sinners so they will not be alone in their repentance. This quite timely for me as well. God bless you and all your loved ones. Glory to God for all things.

  8. Catherine Avatar

    Thank you, Father, for another beautiful post. Sitting in the hospital waiting for my husband of almost 54 years to have surgery for a broken hip, the prayer is balm to my aching heart.
    God’s blessings on you and those you love.

  9. Nicholas Stephen Griswold Avatar
    Nicholas Stephen Griswold

    Beautiful prayer. I copied it into my morning prayer rule. Thank you Father.

  10. Dean Avatar

    What’s amazing also is that I believe that St. Nikolai wrote this book while in his early twenties! I ask his intercessions daily.

  11. juliania Avatar

    There is something similar to this in the story of Zachariah, the little man who climbed the sycamore tree to get a glimpse of Our Lord, and got more than he ever expected. I really have loved coming to this reading in Luke, as now the two calendars fuse and we begin the long winding way as one, ourselves, on more than a bit of a climb. A bigger tree perhaps than many of us have faced before.

    When I was thinking about the reading a long while back my son had a chameleon whose anxiously sorrowful expression reminded me so much of Zachariah beginning his climb that I copied it on a small painting I did of that.
    Our priest always used to remark that even in Lent we keep Pascha in view always. Even when thinking about the Cross, we are given the hope of Resurrection or it may be too much for us. These days will be so fraught while seeking hidden promise as the world lives within us with new intensity.

    It’s a beautiful prayer, yet I have to say I’m not able to carry that enormous load, so my prayer is shorter, but similarly inclusive.

    Thanks as always, Father Stephen.

    Lord, have mercy on us all.

  12. hélène d. Avatar
    hélène d.

    Dean, the book “Prayers on the Lake” was written between 1920 and 1921, that is to say when Mgr Nicolas was 40-41 years old.
    Every day I read some of his highly inspired words….

  13. Byron Avatar


    May God grant your husband good healing!

  14. Christina Avatar

    I so needed to read this today. Spiritual balm.

  15. Dean Avatar

    Thanks Hélène D.

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  1. Greetings, Father Stephen, Thank you so much for this reflection and all of the tremendous amount of work you have…

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