Notes on the Use of the Lestovka

The Method of Prayer

The Four Lapostki

These are representative of the four gospels.

Hidden between the lapostki are seven small movable pieces, usually tucked in securely and not visible unless the between the lapostki is undone. These are representative of the seven Mysteries of the Church Their location between the leaves of the lapostki is representative of their origin in and central relation to the Gospels.

The Three Large Babochki

These appear at the beginning and the end of the lestovka, for a total of nine.

These are representative of the nine months that Christ was carried in the womb of the Theotokos. They are also representative of the nine choirs of angels.

Upon these are prayed the Prayer of the Publican.

The large spaces beside the set of three large rungs at the beginning and the end of the lestovka are representative of heavens and the earth.

The Twelve Babochki

These are representative of the twelve apostles.

Upon these are prayed the Prayer of Jesus.

These are also used to count the twelve repetitions of “Lord, have mercy” in the litanies.

The Thirty-Eight Babochki

These represent the thirty-six weeks and two days that Christ was carried in the womb of the Theotokos.

Upon these are prayed the Prayer of Jesus.

These, with the two large babochki near them, are also used to count the forty repetitions of “Lord, have mercy” in the litanies.

The Thirty-Three Babochki

These represent the number of years that Christ lived on earth before the crucifixion.

Upon these are prayed the Prayer of Jesus.

The Seventeen Babochki

These represent the seventeen prophets, plus John the Baptist, who prophesied about the coming of Christ.

Upon these are prayed the Prayer of Jesus.

These are also used to count the number of bows and prostrations during the Prayer of Saint Ephraim.

Prayers Used with the Lestovka

The Prayer of the Publican

God be merciful to me a sinner. bow
Thou hast created me; Lord, have mercy on me. bow
I have sinned immeasurably; Lord, forgive me. bow

Old Rite Version from “A Son of the Church”

God be merciful to me a sinner. bow Oh God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me. bow Thou hast created me; Lord, have mercy on me. I have sinned immeasurably; Lord, forgive me. bow

The Prayer of Jesus

Old Believers’ Prayer of Jesus with the Sign of the Cross

Lord … touch the forehead Jesus Christ … touch the abdomen Son of God … touch the right shoulder Have mercy on me, a sinner … touch the left shoulder

General Method of the Prayer of Jesus

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Or:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

The prayer is often followed by a bow or prostration.

The prayer of Saint Ephraim

Greek Version

O Lord and Master of my life, grant me not a spirit of sloth, meddling, love of power, and idle talk. (prostration) But give to me, your servant, a spirit of sober-mindedness, humility, patience, and love. (prostration) Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother, since you are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. prostration

Long Form:

Twelve (Old Believers use thirteen) bows, optionally repeating “O God, cleanse me a sinner.” or a similar ejaculatory prayer.

Repeat the full prayer with one prostration at the end.

Slavonic Version (Pre-Nikonian)

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me a spirit of despondency, sloth, love of money, and idle talk. (prostration) But give to me, your servant, a spirit of sober-mindedness, humility, patience, and love. (prostration) Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother, since you are blessed to the ages. Amen. prostration

Long Form:

Twelve bows, optionally repeating “O God, cleanse me a sinner.” or a similar ejaculatory prayer.

Repeat the full prayer with one prostration at the end.

Other Ejaculatory Prayer in Use by the Old Believers during the Thirteen Bows