October 2014 Letter
With the start of the new Coptic year 1731, we hope to have our spiritual life and worship practiced on regular daily basis. Because the Church teaches us the importance of daily prayer with psalms, we’d like to focus our message on the importance of prayer with the Agpeya book, guided by an article of H.G. Bishop Mettaos; Bishop of the monastery of El-Sourian in desert of Sheheet:
“Prayer with Agpeya is important and useful. It is composed of Psalms, Gospels, prepared prayers and the absolution. Whoever practices the prayer with Agpeya knows the depth of its several spiritual benefits. Saint Paul the Apostle says: “Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm” (1 Cor 14: 26). Some of the spiritual benefits praying with Agpeya are:
1) It prolongs staying in the presence of God, who prays improvisational prayers lasts few minutes and then can not find something to say, while the Agpeya prayers allow the worshiper an opportunity for a longer time in the presence of God and gives several things to say.
2) It includes all kinds of prayers: in his improvised prayer the person may be limited to one element, such as demand or thanksgiving. But who uses the Agpeya will find all kinds of prayers: thanksgiving, requests, confession and praise … etc.
3) It includes precise details of every request: prayers of the Agpeya are characterized by including the precise details of each request, which can’t be remembered by everyone in his improvisational prayer:
- In thanksgiving: we thank God for every condition, concerning every condition and in every condition. Why? Because He has covered us helped us, guarded us accepted us, and has brought us to this hour.
- In repentance: we ask God to forgive us our sins and iniquities, and forgive our transgressions which we have committed willingly or unwillingly, those which we did knowingly or unknowingly, the hidden and manifest … and if we have sinned whether in deeds or in words or in thoughts or through all senses, remit and forgive us for the sake of Your holy Name.
- In the final prayer at the end of every hour we ask a series of requests rarely collected in an improvised prayer at one time, like: sanctify our spirits, cleanse our bodies, conduct our thoughts, heal our diseases, forgive our sins, deliver us from every evil grief and distress of heart, surround us by Your holy angels that by their camp we may be guarded and guided.
4) They are the prayers according to the will of God: many people ask requests not according to God’s will and thus are rejected, as St. James says: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss” (James 4 : 3). As for the Agpeya prayers they are all according to God’s will. Whoever prays the Agpeya ensures that all his prayers are accepted before God, and St. John the Apostle taught us: “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5 : 14).
May the blessing of St. Mary & St. Mercurius, all the martyrs and saints be with us all. Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, October 1, 2014