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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).

For prayer, there is a particular time and place. The time during which the clergy and the laity go to church are mornings and evenings also mid days in the fasting season.


A. Canonical Hours of Prayer

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

a) In the morning

b) At the third hour

c) At noon

d) At the ninth hour

e) At sun set (evening)

f) At bedtime

g) At midnight (Our Lord and Saviour Eyesus Christos born, baptized, rose from the dead and will come again for judgment at midnight)

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; Didas 12).

B. Kinds of prayers

There are three kinds of prayers.

a) Private prayer

b) Family prayer

c) Public prayer


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 his room so as not be seen and heard by any one, and lifting his 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. 12:1; Lk. 18:10-14). Also at the time of the New Testament the apostles and their followers used to pray in the upper room and at the house Mariam, St. Mark’s mother, which served as Christian gathering. They used also together and pray at the first church of Antioch (Acts 1:14, 25, 3:1, 12:12, 13:1-3)

According to this, our Church has laid down rules that the clergy and the laity together praise the Lord in prayer, hymn, liturgy, horology (Saatat).

Saatat (ሰአታት - Seatati) 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 Georgia’ Saatat). Cantillation (Hymn) is a song performed in union by the clergy with prayer sticks (መቋሚያ - Mekwamiya), sistrums (ፀናፅል -Tsenat͟sili) and drums (ከበሮ - Kebero); the hymn of Lent is sung without sistrums and drums; it is sung with prayer sticks only.


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

  • prayer of the consecration or 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


Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Liturgical prayer has three parts:

1. From “O my brother, think of thy sin” upto “How awful this day” which is the preparatory service.

2. From “How awful is this day” upto “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 out this is given in detail in the Holy Liturgy and the Fetha Negest Article 12.


The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has fourteen anaphora’s by which it celebrates the Holy Communion.


These are:

  1. The Anaphora of the Apostles

  2. The Anaphora of the Lord

  3. The Anaphora of John, Son of Thunder

  4. The Anaphora of St. Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam

  5. The Anaphora of The three Hundred

  6. The Anaphora of St. Athanasius

  7. The Anaphora of St. Bassilios

  8. The Anaphora of St. Gregory, Brother of St. Bassilios

  9. The Anaphora of St. Ephiphanius

  10. The Anaphora of St. John Chrysostom

  11. The Anaphora of St. Cyril

  12. The Anaphora of St. Jacob of Serough

  13. The Anaphora of Dioscorus

  14. The Anaphora of St. Gregory Second


The Performance of Private and Public Prayer in Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

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

a) Standing erect on two feet without leaning on a pole or a wall (Ps. 5:3).

b) Girding the loin, wearing clothes down over the shoulders and round the waist. (Lk. 12:35; the Fetha Negest Article 14).

c) 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).

d) 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 Our Lord and Saviour Eyesus Christos’s suffering.  (Lk. 11:20). Whosoever 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”.

e) Whosoever prays shall say his prayer humbly and silently not to be heard by others except to his ears. (1Sam. 1:3).

f) Whosoever prays shall put all his thoughts before God and neglect worldly thoughts.

g) Whosoever prays should not talk at all with any person interrupting his prayer.


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; 1Kgs. 8:25-55). Therefore, Our Church teaches that when a particular problem is created the faithful shall beseech God in fast and prayer in every parish church in the morning and evening.

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. 20:3739; 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 Our Lord and Saviour Eyesus Christos, 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 for the dead is from the day of death up to a year and beyond.

  1. On the day of death

  2. On the third day

  3. On the seventh day

  4. On the twelve day

  5. On the thirtieth day

  6. On the fortieth day

  7. On the eightieth day

  8. In the sixth month

  9. A year after the day of death.

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).


Along with all these the Church prays:-

  • for the sick

  • for the travelers

  • for the rain

  • for the fruit of the earth

  • for the water of the 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 and the sorrowful

  • for the imprisoned

  • for the transgressors

  • for the strengthening of faith

  • for the faithful men and women


c. Prayer books

In general the Church prays for the whole world. Therefore, it has several prayer books:

  1. Wedase Mariam – The Praise of Our Holy Mother Virgin Mareyam by Saint Ephrem the Syrian Monday through Sunday

  2. Wedase Amlake – The praise of God Monday through Sunday

  3. AneqaSa Berhan- The Gate of Light(Our Holy Mother)

  4. Yewedeswa Malaekt – Angels Praise Her (Holy Virgin Mareyam)

  5. Malkə’a Selassie - Hymn of Salutation  to all member of the body of Holy Trinity

  6. Malek’a Eyasus -  Hymn of Salutation  to all member of the body of Our Lord and Saviour Eyasus Christos

  7. Malek’a Maryam- Hymn of Salutation  to all member of the body of Holy Virgin Mareyam

  8. Malek’a Kidana Mehrat - Hymn of Salutation  to all member of the body of the Covenant of mercy( Our Holy Mother)

  9. Malek’a Mika᾽l- Hymn of Salutation  to all member of the body of Archangel Michael

  10. Malek’a Gabriel - Salutation  to all member of the body of Archangel Gabriel

  11. Malek’a Raguel - Salutation  to all member of the body of Archangel Raguel

  12. Malek’a Fanu’el - Salutation  to all member of the body of Archangel Phanuel

  13. Malek’a Giyorgis - Salutation  to all member of the body of Giyorgis

  14. Malek’a St. Gabra Manfas Qeddus - Salutation  to all member of the body of St. Gabra Manfas Qeddus

  15. Malek’a St Tekla-Haimanot - Salutation  to all member of the body of St Tekla-Haimanot

  16. Malek’a St Marqorewos - Salutation  to all member of the body of St Marqorewos

  17. Malke'a Sanbata Kerestiyan - Salutation  to Christian Sabbath

  18. Malkə’a Peteros Wa Pawelos- Salutation to all member of the body of Saint Peter and Paul  

  19. Nagare Mareyam - About the virgin Mareyam

  20. Nagare Melkot - About the Divinity

  21. Sayefa Selase - Sword of Holy Trinity

  22. Sayefa Malakot - Sword of the Divinity

  23. Ta’amera Eyesus-The Miracles of Eyesus

  24. Ta’amera Mareyam -The Miracles of Mareyam

  25. Ta᾽amera Giyorgis -The Miracles of Giyorgis

  26. Deresana Mika’el  - Homilies [in honour] and Miracles of the Archangel Michael

  27. Deresana Gaber᾽el - Homilies [in honour] and Miracles of the  Archangel Gabriel,

  28. Malke'a Aragaw - Salutation  of all member of the body Abune Aregawi

  29. Arganon- Praise of Mareyam

  30. Saatat - Petitions for the night

  31. Sane Golgotha -  Prayer of Mareyam at Golgotha for Sane,

  32. Malke'a  Filseta - Hymn to the Assumption of the Virgin Mareyam

  33. Liton – Prayer of supplication

  34. Tsilote Kidan  -Prayer of covenant

  35. Gadele Kedusan- Lives of the saints

  36. Gadele Gebre Menfes Kiduse - Lives of Geb re Menfes Kiduse

  37. Gadele Tekla-Haimanot - Lives of  Tekla-Haimanot

  38. Gadele Lalibela - Lives of  Lalibela

  39. Gadele Zena Markos - Lives of  Zena Markos

  40. Gadela Hawaryat - Lives of  the Apostles

  41. Gadele Georgis- Lives of Saint Georgis

  42. Gadele Gebre Christos - Lives of Saint Gebre Christos

  43. Gadele Abune  Aragawi - Lives of Saint Abune  Aragawi

  44. Gidle Kirkos Semera- Lives of Saint Kirkos Semera

  45. Book of Kufalie

  46. Masgaba Haimanot – the Treasury of faith

  47. Abushaker – Base of Ethiopian calendar

  48. Mazhafa Menekosate- book of the Monks

  49. Sinkesar Synaxarium - Saints calendar

  50. Mazhafa Kedasie – Book of the Liturgy

  51. Fekkare ’Iyasus- the prophecies of Iyasus

52.  Ghitsacwa –Lectionaries or a list of annual reading of the scriptures during the liturgical service and other prayer hours.

53.  The liturgical book with the 14 Anaphora

54.  Metsehafe Teklil - The book of the Sacrament of Matrimony

55.  Masehafa Temqat - The book of Baptism

56.   Masehafa  The book of Ordination

58.  Metsehafe Fethate- The prayer book for the dead

59.  The prayer book of the Incense

60.  Metsehafe Kenona - The book of Canon

61.  Metsehafe Neseha - The prayer book of purification

62.  Malke’a Həmamat -Hymns for the Passion of Christ.

63.  Mahleta Sege - Hymn to the sorrow of the Virgin Mareyam

63.  Hasura Maskal - Rampart of the Cross

64.  Metsehafe Senksar - Synaxarium (Lives of the Saints)

65.  Amesetu A’emada Mesetir - The Five Pillars of Mystery

Articles & Resources

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