Kneeling Prayers at Pentecost Vespers (2)
Orthodox Christians do not kneel for prayers from Pascha until Pentecost. Following the canon of the first Nicene council, we don’t kneel on Sundays, either. So Vespers on the evening of Pentecost is the first time since Pascha that we kneel; and three marvelous prayers are contained in these “Kneeling Vespers.” Here is the second:
Lord Jesus Christ our God, who, while still present with us in this life, gave your peace to humankind, and ever grant the gift of the all-holy Spirit to the faithful as an inheritance which cannot be taken away, you sent down this grace today in a more manifest form to your Disciples and Apostles and gave eloquence to their lips with tongues of fire, through which we, every race of humankind, having received the knowledge of God in our own language by the hearing of the ear, have been enlightened by the light of the Spirit, delivered from the darkness of error and, by the distribution and supernatural force of the perceptible tongues of fire, have been taught faith in you and have been illumined to speak of you as God with the Father and the holy Spirit in one Godhead, power and authority.
Do you, then, the radiance of the Father, the unchangeable and unalterable stamp of his Essence and nature, the source of salvation and grace, open also the lips of me, a sinner, and teach me how I should and for whom I ought to pray, for you know the multitude of my sins, but your compassion will overcome their measureless number. For see, with fear I stand before you, having cast away despair of my soul into the sea of your mercy. Govern my life, by the ineffable power of your wisdom, you who govern all creation by a word, who are the fair haven of the storm-tossed, and make known to me the way in which I shall walk.
Grant to my thoughts the Spirit of your wisdom, to my folly the Spirit of understanding, with the Spirit of your fear overshadow my deeds. Renew a right Spirit within my inward parts and make firm the instability of my mind with the sovereign Spirit, so that guided each day by your good Spirit to what is profitable, I may be found worthy to do your commandments and always keep in mind your Coming, which searches out all that we have done. Do not neglect me, so that I become deceived by the corrupted pleasures of the world, but give me strength to yearn for the enjoyment of the treasures which are to come. For you said, Master, that whatever someone asks in your name they receive without restraint from your co-eternal God and Father. And so I a sinner at the coming of your holy Spirit implore your goodness, ‘The things that I have prayed for grant me for my salvation’. Yes, Lord, the loving and most generous giver of every benefaction, for it is you who give super-abundantly more than we ask. It is you who are compassionate, merciful, who without sin became a partaker in our flesh and who in loving compassion bend down to those who bend the knee to you and became the atonement for our sins. Give your people, Lord, your acts of pity; hear us from your holy heaven; sanctify us by the power of your saving right hand; shelter us in the shelter of your wings; do not despise the works of your hands. Against you alone we have sinned, but it is you alone that we adore. We do not know how to worship a strange god, nor to spread out our hands, Master, to another god. Forgive us our offenses and, accepting our supplications on our bended knees, stretch out to us all a helping hand. Accept the prayer of all as acceptable incense, rising up before your kingdom, above all goodness.
Lord, Lord, who have delivered us from every arrow that flies by day, deliver us also from every deed that walks in darkness. Accept as an evening sacrifice the lifting up of our hands. Count us worthy also to pass through the stadium of the night untried by evils, and rescue us from every disturbance and fear which comes to us from the Devil. Grant our souls the grace of compunction and our thoughts concern for the examination at your dread and just judgment. Nail down our flesh with fear of you, and deaden our members that are on earth, so that, in the calm of sleep, we may be made radiant with joy by the contemplation of your judgments. Remove from us every unseemly imagining and harmful desire. Raise us up at the time for prayer strengthened in the faith and advancing in your commandments.