Feb 12, 2021

Prayer is a word by which man communicates with his Creator in Faith, thanking and beseeching Him for the forgiveness of his sin. (Fetha Negest 14:528). The basis of prayer is the divine word which runs “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you” (Mt. 7:7).

There is a particular time and place for prayer. The time during which the clergy and the laity go to church are mornings and evenings. 

Prayers are said seven time a day: - (Ps. 118:164).

  1. In the morning (6:00 a.m.)
  2. At the third hour of the day (i.e. 9:00 a.m.)
  3. At noon (12:00 pm)
  4. At the ninth hour of the day (3:00 pm)
  5. At sun set (5:00 p.m.)
  6. At bed time (9:00 pm)
  7. At mid night (12:00 am)

The faithful and the clergy have to go to the church every morning and evening. But in the remaining hours they can pray wherever they are. (Fetha Negest 14; Resta 48, 47; Didas 12)

There are three kinds of prayers. These are:

A. Private prayer

Private prayer is said at home and at any appropriate place. It is a solemn prayer made to God privately by shutting your room so as not be seen and heard by any one, and lifting your heart to the Creator to be seen and heard by Him alone. (Mt. 6:5-13)

B. Family prayer

As the word indicates, family prayer is a prayer offered by all the members of a family together. For this the prayer of Cornelius the Centurion will be an example. (Acts. 10:2-6).

C. Public prayer

It is a prayer to be said by the clergy and the laity, men and women, old and young gathered together in the church and in all convenient places.

We read in the Scriptures that the faithful in the Old Testament used to go to the temple and pray. (1 Sam. 1:9-13; Ps. 121:1; Lk.18:10-14).

Also at time of the New Testament, the apostles and their followers used to pray in the upper room and at the house of Mary, St. Mark’s mother, which served as the first Christian gathering. They also used to gather and pray at the first church of Antioch. (Acts, 1:14, 25; 3:1, 12:12; 13: 1-3)

In the time of prayer one has to follow these orders.

  1. Standing erect on two feet without leaning on a pole or a wall and without holding a cane as a support. (Ps.5:3).
  2. Girding the loin, wearing clothes down over the shoulders and round the waist. (Lk. 12:35; the Fetha Negest Article 14).
  3. Standing up turning the face towards the east without moving to and from and without looking left and right. It is essential to pray stretching the hands and lifting up the heart. (Ps. 133:2; Jn. 11:41).
  4. At the beginning and closing of prayer, one has to cross himself with the pointing finger placed in such a way that it makes a cross in relation to the three joined curved fingers. Crossing oneself is done from the forehead downward and from left to right. At the time of crossing it is necessary to remember Christ’s suffering. (Lk. 11:20).
  5. Whosever prays while crossing himself shall say first “In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God, I cross my face and all my body in the sign of the Cross.” Secondly, he crosses himself saying “Lord pity us, Lord spare us, Lord have mercy upon us, and bless us Amen.” Thirdly in crossing himself three times, praying and prostrating should say the prayer “Glory to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit now for ever and ever world without end, Amen.” “O Lord make us ready to say thanks to our Father in heaven,” at the beginning and closing of prayer. Also, whosoever prays should cross himself whenever he meets the word “cross” and should prostrate whenever he comes across the word “prostrate”.
  6. Whosoever Prays shall say his prayer humbly and silently not to be heard by other except to his ears. He does this for his past sin and transgression. (1 Sam. 1:3).
  7. whosoever prays steadfastly and faithfully shall communicate with God. He shall put all his thoughts before God and neglect worldly thoughts.
  8. As to the sequence of prayer, first we say Our Father who art in Heaven. Next the prayer of our Lady Mary is recited, the Creed, (prayer of confession) and at last the Lord’s prayer including Hail Mary, Kyrie Eleison is said 41 times. All Christians should pray. It is obligatory for one who doesn’t know how to pray to learn to do so. But the clergy are ordered to say all prayers. (Eph. 5:19-20 Mt. 7:2-13).
  9. When one is praying, he should weep with deep feeling of remorse for his transgression and sin.
  10. whosoever prays should not talk at all with any person interrupting his prayer. However, if he is faced with a problem that forces him to interrupt his prayer he should say the Lord’s Prayer and talk. When he finishes his talk, he should resume his prayer from where he had stopped.

According to this, our Church has laid down rules that the clergy and the laity together praise the Lord in prayer, hymn, liturgy and horology (Saatat). Saatat is conducted throughout the year in monasteries and big churches, on Sundays and holidays. Saatat is also performed for the dead during the night.

For the day time also, there is Saatat. It is said daily at every hour during the time of fast. (Abba Georgis’ Saatat).

Cantillation (Hymn) is a song performed in union by the clergy with prayer sticks, sistrums and drums; the hymn of Lent is sung without sistrums and drums; it is sung with prayer sticks only.

Prayers that are conducted by priests with the participation of the laity are: -

  • Prayer of the dedication of a new church
  • Prayer of Baptism
  • Prayer of Ordination and Consecration
  • Prayer of Matrimony
  • Prayer of Litany
  • Prayer for the Dead
  • Prayer of Liturgy and the like.

Liturgical Prayer

It has three parts:

  1. From “O my brother, think of thy sin” up to “How awful this day” which is the preparatory service.
  2. From “How awful is this day” up to “Go forth, Ye catechumen” which is the first part of the Eucharist.
  3. After this the main part of the Holy Liturgy which comes after “Go forth, Ye catechumen” is said.

The procedure for carrying is given in detail in the Holy Liturgy and the Fetha Negest Article 12.

The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church has fourteen anaphora’s by which it celebrates the Holy Communion. These are:

  1. The Anaphora of the Apostles
  2. “          “   “     GThe Lord
  3. “ “            “     John, Son of Thunder
  4. “ “            “     St. Mary
  5. “ “            “     The three Hundred
  6. “ “            “     St. Athanasius
  7. “ “            “      St. Bassilios
  8. “ “            “     St. Gregory, Brother of St. Bassilios
  9.  “ “            “     Ephiphanius
  10. “ “            “     St. John Chrysostom                      
  11. “ “            “     St. Cyril
  12. “ “            “     St. Jacob of Serough
  13. “     “            “     Dioscorus
  14. “ “            “     St. Gregory Second


Prayer of Litany

It is a prayer which we should pray to God to alter his wrath with mercy, his anger with patience. This prayer is also conducted whenever there is drought, plague, war and when chastisement is manifested. (Num. 16,46-50; Jon. 3:5-10; Joel 2:12-19; 1 Kgs. 8:25-55).

Therefore, Our Church teaches that when a particular problem is created the faithful shall beseech God. Fasts and prayers are held at every parish church in the morning and evening.

In general, the Church has several prayer books. it prays for everything to the whole world.

the Church prays: -

  • For the sick
  • For the travelers
  • For the rain
  • For the fruit of the earth
  • For the waters of rivers
  • For the dead and the living
  • For the catechumens
  • For the unity of the church
  • For the peace of the country and the world
  • For the leaders and the clergy of the church and the needy
  • For the immigrants
  • For the sad the sorrowful
  • For the imprisoned
  • For the transgressors
  • For the strengthening of faith
  • For the faithful men and women.


Prayer for the Dead

Prayer for the dead is a prayer offered to God that the dead might be released from the bondage of sin. The Church orders that prayer for the dead should be conducted. This prayer enables the deceased to receive forgiveness of sin, mercy and rest for the soul. For the righteous it brings grace upon grace and joyous life. It is through prayer that the dead and the living communicate. “The living pray for the dead and the dead for the living (Enoch 12:34), because their souls are alive. (Mt. 22:31-32; Lk. 20:37-39; Barock 3:4).

The Holy Apostles have commanded that prayer should be conducted for the dead both in the Church and burial places and offering should be presented for them.

For the sake of your brother Christians and martyrs who died in Christ, Gather in the Church without wickedness, bring offerings for them when you take them to the church and the burial places and pray the Psalms of David. (Didasc. Art. 33). The Fetha Negest in its spiritual part affirms what is quoted in Didasc. Art. 22

According to this, our church prays and presents a Psalm of Praise for the dead from the moment of death up to the laying down in the grave from home up to the church.

The commemoration prayers for the dead is from the day of death up to a year and beyond.

The church orders that on these days’ prayer should be conducted, incense should be burned, offerings should be given, commemoration should be held, and alms should be offered (Fetha Negest Art. 22).



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