Metropolitan Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow and Kolomna. St. Philaret was born in 1782 in the suburban town of Kolomna, east of Moscow, to a clergyman’s family. He studied at the local seminary, but his intellectual and literary talents were extraordinary, and in 1817 he was consecrated a bishop. By 1826 he was Metropolitan of Moscow, which was the chief hierarchical position in Russia during that period when there was no Patriarchate there.
St. Philaret left a voluminous inheritance of what can be truly called patristic works. He also composed prayers,1 one of which has become a part of many people’s morning prayers. It is a prayer not for what we want, but for what God wills—that He would always be before us, working in us His Holy will.2
Morning Prayer of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow
O Lord, I do not know what to ask of Thee. Thou alone knowest what I need. Thou lovest me more than I know how to love myself. O Father, grant Thy servant what I myself do not know how to ask. I do not dare to ask a cross of Thee, nor consolation; I only stand before Thee with my heart open; Thou seest the needs that I myself do not know. Look, and work in me according to Thy mercy; smite and heal me, cast me down and raise me up! I am reverent and silent before Thy holy will and ways that are unfathomable to me. I offer myself as a sacrifice to Thee; teach me to pray. Do Thou Thyself pray in me. Amen.
Another prayer attributed to the illustrious hierarch was written for prisoners, who although they have been incarcerated for crimes committed, especially need help from the Lord to bear the difficulty of their penitentiary life. But aren’t we are all seemingly prisoners of circumstances that surround us—family troubles, job loss or difficulty, rocky relationships, poverty, and any other thing that makes us feel like there is no way out? But we can pray to God with these words, that He would give us comfort and the strength to endure everything for the sake of cleansing our own sins, which have most likely brought us to these situations.
Prayer of the Prisoner
O my Lord God and Savior, blessed be Thy holy name!
Thanksgiving and praise be to Thee O Lord, for all the blessings I have received from Thee in this life. Sorrow and sickness have overtaken me, and I call upon Thy name. Reproach has fallen upon me. Thou hast laid me in the pit of hades, in the darkness and house of the dead. I sorrow for this, and I understand that I have this sorrow because I have sinned before Thee, and for my sins have these afflictions come upon me. For Thy righteous ones were not downcast, and even in prisons called out to Thee, and rejoiced in sufferings.
For if Thous shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, O Lord, who shall stand? For there is no man that hath not sinned. But Thou, O Lord, dost bear the sins of the world and cleansest through repentance. I believe, for thou hast not turned even me, a sinner, away from Thy Face. Thy Only Begotten Son didst pour out His blood for the whole world. I believe that He can cleanse even me from my sins, and desires this.
Therefore with David I say: I will confess mine iniquities before the Lord against myself. And Thou forgavest the ungodliness of my heart. I fear the judge and judgment of man, but even more do I fear Thy irrevocable judgment and eternal condemnation. For unrighteousness has risen up against me; I make bold to pray to Thee with David’s words: Hearken O Lord unto my righteousness, and hear my judgment, and deliver me by Thy righteousness.
For although I have committed unrighteousness, heal my unrighteousness by Thy mercy. Do not allow my heart to incline to deceitful words, to hiding the truth, and false justification. Help me to understand and to hate my unrighteousness, to love righteousness, and in truth surround my soul with comfort. Ease the burden of my afflictions. Endure also me, the condemned, that I may endure with patience for the sake of cleansing my sins and for the sake of Thy merciful, righteous judgment.
For if shame has covered me before certain people, may I endure it with humility; may I receive They mercy, O Lord, and may I not be put to shame before the face of the world at Thy Dread [Last] Judgment.
I come to Thee woeful and sorrowful; deprive me not of Thy spiritual consolation. I come to Thee darkened; show me the light of hope for salvation. I fall down before Thee in exhaustion; raise me up and confirm me in Thy grace.
And above all grant me the desire and help me, O Lord, in everything to do Thy will; that in peace I may glorify Thy holy name, of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.