Prayer by the Lake – “The world squeezed me like an accordian…”

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December 10, 2012 by Orthodox Whitehorse

In addition to being a caring pastor and a diligent scholar, Bishop Nikolai was gifted with a uniquely poetic soul. In the early 1920’s, this man of God was transferred to the Diocese of Ochrid and Bitola. During this time Nikolai wrote two books: Rechi O Svechoveku (Orations on the Universal Man, 1920) and Molitve Na Jezeru (Prayers by the Lake, 1921). This latter work, written during his resting periods at Lake Ochrid, was in poetic-prose style, so deep and profound, similar in spirituality to the great Psalms of David.

St. John Kaneo Church, overlooking Lake Ochrid, Macedonia

St. John Kaneo Church, overlooking Lake Ochrid, Macedonia

Excerpt from Prayers by the Lake, #100, by St. Nikolai of Zhitsa


The world squeezed me like an accordion, scarcely did I take a breath and I moaned. Let Your angels give melody to my moaning and let them offer it up before You, my love.

I remind myself of all the blessings You have bestowed on me during my lifetime, my unfailing Companion, and I am offering up to You a gift in return from myself.

I am not offering up to You my entire self, for I am not entirely worthy to burn on Your most pure sacrificial altar. I cannot offer as a sacrifice to the Immortal One what is intended for death and corruption.

I offer up to You only that which has grown within me under Your light, that which was saved in me by Your Word.

Accept the sacrifice of my words, O Triune Bouquet of Flowers; accept the babbling of a new-born child.

When the choirs of angels begin to sing around Your throne, when the archangels’ trumpets begin to blare, when Your martyrs begin to weep for joy, and Your saints begin to sob their prayers for the salvation of the Church on earth, do not despise the sacrifice of my words, O Lord my God.

Do not mishear, but hear.

I pray to You and bow down to You, now and throughout all time, and throughout all eternity. Amen.

-Written at Lake Ohrid 1921-1922

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