Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Why must we use the Agpeya in prayer? Can a person just use their own words if they feel that it helps them get closer to God, or would this be disobeying the Church? Also, as time goes by, are we supposed to be growing in how many psalms we recite from the Agpeya, or is the goal of our prayer life to know and grow closer to God whether that includes using the Agpeya or not?

First, I would like to refer you to a well-written article on the Agpeya in the first issue of the Mighty Arrows (vol 1, no 1).

After reading the article, let's examine the work of prayer. A well practiced prayer pleases God a lot. St John Chrysostom says, "Prayer was described as incense because of its good smell and because it purifies the soul from the rot of sin."

"Prayer avails much" (Jam 5:16). The work of prayer is superior and distinguished over any other work. Because of the superiority of prayer, the Lord appointed the angels to present it to Him.

Did you know that the canon of the seven prayers, "Prayers of the Agpeya", was mentioned among the canons of the Ecumenical Council of Nicea in the year 325 AD? Yet these same laws go back to the time of the disciples and were reported among their canons. They were also among the laws of Hipoletus in the beginning of the third century. One can say the Agpeya dates back to the days of the chosen disciples.

With all of the above supporting evidence, I think we should definitely use the Agpeya to pray and be thankful that we are blessed with it.

The late Bishop Youanis of Gharbia said, "The value of prayer is not measured by the degree of comfort one receives from it, but by the amount of toil." Continuing steadfastly in spiritual practices such as reciting the psalms takes us away from lukewarmness in prayer.

Please keep in mind that when we suffer from "spiritual dryness" in our prayers, it does not mean that God will reject them. On the contrary, God may value them more than the prayers in which we feel comforted. The reason is that toil, labor, and difficulty in prayers help us get closer to God. To receive comfort is not the goal.

Using the Agpeya does not eliminate the need to use your own personal words to address God. Usually we conclude the Agpeya with a personal prayer in which we give our personal thanksgiving to God and also we put forward all our needs.

It is expected that a praying person grow in the knowledge of the Holy Psalms and the quality of his prayers improve over time.
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