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In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

Tonight, we will continue our look at the Great Litany of the Divine Liturgy. And I’ll remind us, as we hear and discuss the petitions, that this Litany, and the whole of the Liturgy, is our prayer for the whole world. We come to the Church and we lift up not only ourselves, but all those we love, all those we struggle with, our sins and our faults and our dreams, and we lift up the whole of the world to God in prayer.

Tonight, we begin with the petition: “For this God-protected land, its President, all civil authorities, and for those who serve in the armed forces, let us pray to the Lord.” I think this is an important petition for us in America; we struggle sometimes to know how to take patriotism and what our country may be doing locally and throughout the world and balance that with our faith. This petition gives us what we might call “Patristic patriotism” – we pray for our country, even referring to it as “God-protected” – the Fathers tell us that not only do people and Churches have guardian angels, but our countries do as well. We pray for our President and all civil authorities – the Scriptures plainly tell us that the leaders of nations are placed in power by the will of God. So no matter how we might feel, we pray for our nation and our leaders. We also pray for those who serve in the armed forces – again, whether we like situations or not, we pray for God’s protection over those men and women who serve our nation in the armed forces. We have many Saints who were warriors and soldiers, and they witnessed to Christ while at the same time serving in the army – this has always been seen as a noble things in the Church.

“For this city, for every city and country, and for those who in faith dwell therein, let us pray to the Lord.” We pray for our city, we play for the place that we live. It’s incredible the detail that we go into during these petitions. In addition to our city, we expand and pray for every city and country, and for those who in faith dwell in them. We’re praying again for the world. And we’re praying pretty specifically.

“For favorable weather, for an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord.” We recognize clearly that our Lord is in control of everything, so we pray that our weather will be good, and we pray for abundant crops. When Adam was expelled from Paradise, he was condemned to till the earth for his food. We continue to do that same thing, and we ask that God bless our efforts with a good harvest so that everyone will have enough to eat. We also pray again, as we did in the first 3 petitions, for peaceful times. We pray that the world can be at peace. This particular phrase placed in this petition also recognizes that many conflicts are over land and food – so the blessing of a fruitful harvest should help the world continue in peace.

“For travelers by land, by sea, and by air, for the sick and the suffering, for captives, and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord.” Here we pray for a rather wide range of people. In addition to particular prayers for travelers that the priest prays from the Book of Needs, we always pray for those who travel in every Great Litany. We also pray for those who are sick and suffering, and for those who are captives. It’s very important what we say in our prayer – we don’t pray for the healing of the sick and for the freedom of captives – we pray for their salvation. Many people will remember in their hearts the people they know who are sick or in prison during this Litany. But we pray for the salvation of their soul, for the healing and freedom of the soul, rather than the body. Even when the priest visits someone who is ill or in prison, the prayer looks like this – healing is mentioned, if it is God’s will, but the focus of the prayer is the soul’s salvation, union with God.

“For our deliverance from all tribulation, wrath, danger, and necessity, let us pray to the Lord.” On the heels of praying for the salvation of others, we pray for conditions which are amenable for our own salvation. We ask that God deliver us from tribulation (difficult times), wrath (anger, malice), danger, and necessity. Necessity is interesting – we have needs to live, but we asked to be delivered from necessity in the sense of the needs of life exercising control over us. Notice that we don’t ask God merely to keep these things away from us – we know that temptations will come our way, that is part of human life in a fallen world. We ask for deliverance, we ask for the grace to deal with the temptations that come to us, that by God’s grace we can overcome the evil one and be delivered from our temptations.

We’ll look at the last 2 petitions and the prayer and the exclamation next time. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Author Matthew Jackson