Prostrations - 2 how-to questions

I am a Latin-rite Catholic interested in adding prostrations to my personal prayer time and have two questions:

  1. I have read on the web how to make a prostration and think I understand pretty well, but would anyone know of a short internet video clip that would show me a prostration being done properly?

  2. When exactly are prostrations used in prayer (outside of an actual Liturgy.) By this I mean both during the prayer time itself, such as before a prayer, after a prayer, during a pause in the prayer or during the prayer itself, etc. as well as during what times of the week/year - in other words, would prostrations in private prayer be avoided on the same days when it is omitted in the Liturgy?

Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.

God bless!


John - during Lent prostrations are generally made Sunday evening through Friday evening. They are not made on Saturdays or Sundays, even during Lent. To make a prostration (poklon in Ukrainian), kneel, place your hands on the floor crossed left over right, and touch your forehead to your crossed hands.

In many Eastern Catholic traditions the prostrations accompany the Prayer of St. Ephraim:

O Lord and Master of my life! Take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. (Prostration)

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to your servant. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother; for You are blessed for ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Then, crossing ourselves:
God, be merciful to me, a sinner.
God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me.
I have sinned without number, forgive me, O Lord.

And once again the Prayer of St. Ephraim, with one poklon (prostration) at the end.

Dear Diak,

Thank you for the instruction, and for the prayer as well!

God bless,


At a greek orthodox Church I attended a few times, prostrations were basically a HUGE sign of the cross: Hand in the eastern configuration (thumb, forefinger and middlefinger together, last two fingers curled back to palm) And then Forehead, to feet, to right shoulder to left shoulder.

Is that a correct prostration or a “bow?”

Generally that’s considered a low bow, or a “reverence”. Unlike Prostrations, those are done on Sundays.

Metanoias, sometimes called lesser prostrations etc. are very common during Divine Liturgy, at the mention of the Trinity, of the Theotokos, and of Christ our Lord, and when venerating the Holy Icons. That involves reaching down and touching the ground with the two extended fingers of your right hand following the sign of the cross. Often people don’t actually touch the floor but just reach down towards it with the right hand shaped for the sign of the cross which was just made.

If you’ve been at the Greek Orthodox Church on a Sunday you won’t have seen prostrations because we are forbidden to kneel on Sundays and at all between Pascha and Pentecost.

I’ve not seen the hands placed left over right, but of course one only sees those folks in close proximity. :slight_smile: The churches I’ve been in for services with prostrations, the movement is generally fairly quick, that is to say the amount of time one’s head is on the floor is only a few moments and then you’re standing up again. That is made up for but how many repetitions there may be. :smiley: Tonight at Forgiveness Vespers there were quite a few. I love the prostrations, and Forgiveness Vespers. :slight_smile:

Greetings folks,

I would like to suggest that the best way to do prostration in your prayers would be to follow the way how the Biblical Prophets (peace be upon them all) themselves prostrated to their Lord when they prayed.

Genesis 17:3 "And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,"

Genesis 17:17 "Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?"

Exodus 34:8 "And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped."

Numbers 16:20-22 "And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?"

Joshua 5:14 "And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?"

Ezekiel 9:8 "And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?"

2 Chronicles 20:18 "And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD."

Ezekiel 11:13 "And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?"

Matthew 17:6 "And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid."

Matthew 26:39 "And he (Jesus) went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

I would suggest that such prostration to the Lord in prayer be done regularly in the privacy of your home, preferably in the direction of Jerusalem if you like and I would also suggest that you do this immediately after you have taken your bath.

Hamba used to use a wee picture with this post of his (which he has made countless times in one form or another) showing you how to prostrate. One it was discovered that it was actually from a manual aimed at showing Jews how to follow their own traditions properly he stopped using that lovely little diagram.

I am sure the Orthodox are peeing themselves laughing as usual at the notion of been taught how to perform prostration by hamba. I know several of the most regular Orthodox posters have seen this attempt at naked prosleytising from hammy before. I always show my wife his posts when he does this. As she is Russian Orthodox she always find this stuff hilarious.

I’d love to see Hamba go to an Orthodox Church during Great Lent or Holy Week. I’d also love to see the expression on his face as everyone prostrates and doesn’t magically become a Muslim.

Oh absolutely, he can pop along to the Cathedral of the Dormition in London if he would like. That’s the chief Russian Orthodox Church in Britian and Ireland and where the diocese of Sourozh is centered around. Or he can pop along to the Antiochian Orthodox Church near me, St. Botolph’s (which incidentally is one of the oldest surviving places of worship in England) whose Priest has sadly died recently unforunately.

Or we can send him to some of the Eastern Catholic Churches scattered around London. Hamba’s posts are simple propaganda and so tiresomely transparent you just utter a fey chuckle when reading their over-earnest ramblings. One is remined of the first year Univestiy student who takes up a cause aiming to right all wrongs with the world. The intent might even have it’s good points but clear and logical thinking and ability to consider opposing points of view would not be among the virtues of such an outlook.

And just for hammy I present this little diagram showing members of the Orthodox Catholic Churches how to prostrate:-

If you look closely at the diagram posted by JC, you will notice that not one of those 3 ladies has prostrated by falling on their faces… the third girl has only placed her forehead on the ground, not her face.

And so, I would say that this is NOT how the Biblical Prophets (peace be upon them all) prostrated to their Lord in prayer.

You need to actually fall on your face, as described in the Biblical verses that I have pointed out in my previous post, in order for your prostration to the Lord to be valid.

And you need to learn we don’t need you to teach us how to worship and that it’s downright arrogant and condescending. After all there was no sign of you becoming Jewish was there even though you used a picture taken from a Jewish manual on how to perform prostration?

We’ve just done prostrations in Forgiveness Vespers. May we strive to not feed this argument?

Well, I was reminded after Compline and Great Canon tonight of the great list “You know you’re Orthodox if…”
“At the end of Holy Week [Clean Monday], you have rug burns on your forehead.” :thumbsup:

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