Before the advent of printing, prayer books were written by hand and were often richly decorated with initials and miniature illustrations telling stories in the lives of Christ or the saints, or stories from the Bible. Because of the cost involved, such prayer books were usually only used by clergy, monastics, or the wealthy.
With the advent of printing, prayer books became accessible to the average laymen and have been an important aspect of Orthodox piety ever since.
Prayer books available in English
- The Prayer Book of Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY: generally considered the standard Russian-style prayer book in English. Translated by Fr. Lawrence (Campbell), it uses the Psalter According to the Seventy produced by Holy Transfiguration Monastery and King James Version "old English" for all prayers. Contents include full Morning and Evening Prayers, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, excerpts from Matins and Vespers, multiple troparia and kontakia, akathists and supplicatory canons to Jesus Christ and the Most Holy Theotokos, canons of the Guardian Angel and of Repentance, communion prayers, instructional materials and more. There is also a reprint of the original 1960 Jordanville Prayer Book, translated by the late Archimandrite Lazarus (Moore), available. ISBN 088465074X ISBN 978-0884-65074-4
- A Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians (published by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA): comparable to the Jordanville Prayer Book, but follows Greek usage as found in common Proseuchetarion; contains Morning Prayers and Prayers at Mealtime, the services of Small Compline, Vespers, Matins, and the Divine Liturgy, together with the principle hymns of the feasts of the year, and the complete Service of Pascha. Also included are the Akathists to our Sweet Lord Jesus Christ and the Most Holy Theotokos, a supplicatory canon to our Lord Jesus Christ, both the Small and Great Supplicatory Canons to the Most Holy Theotokos, a supplicatory canon to the Guardian Angel, and the Communion Prayers. ISBN 0943405017 ISBN 978-0943405018
- An Orthodox Prayer Book, by Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash), currently published by Nigel Lynn Publishing on behalf of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain;bilingual Greek/modern English edition following the settings of Greek morning prayers, evening prayers and small Compline as found in the Synekdemos. This translation is harmonious with the Oxford University Press edition of the Divine Liturgy (published with the blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch) and with the wide range of liturgical material published on Fr Ephrem's web-site. ISBN 0191224472 ISBN 9780191224478
- The Old Orthodox Prayer Book, or as it is commonly referred to, "The Old Believer Prayer Book": This prayer book has a lot of useful instructional material, and a lot of services that are set up such that they can be done as reader services (such as a Moleben). It also has the Slavonic text and the English text on facing pages. The disadvantage to it is the Slavonic text is not the standard text used by the Church (being the Old Rite) and so it differs in wording and often in structure. Nevertheless, it is quite useful. This prayer book was produced for use by the Old Rite community in Erie, Pennsylvania (ROCOR).
- St. Tikhon's Orthodox Prayer book (Slavonic/English Edition): This prayer book, sometimes called the "SVIT prayer book" after its original publisher, is a bilingual edition comparable to the Jordanville Prayer Book, except it uses an obsolete English translation from the first edition produced in 1959. It recently went out-of-print.
- The Pocket Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians, published by the Antiochian Archdiocese, is a popular, but more abbreviated version of the Prayer Book, though it contains some prayers not typically included in other prayer books.
- Daily Prayer for Orthodox Christians, by Fr. N. Michael Vaporis, originally published in 1986 and recently reprinted by Holy Cross Orthodox Press (a publishing arm of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America), is a bilingual Greek/modern English prayer book containing selections from The Synekdemos, including Morning and Evening Prayers, Small Compline, the Service of Preparation for Holy Communion and Thanksgiving Following Holy Communion.
- A Prayer Book: An Anthology of Orthodox Prayers, by Fr. Peter A. Chamberas, is a bilingual Greek and modern English prayer book published by Alexander Press containing Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Midnight prayers, plus 50 pages of prayers for various needs.
- My Prayer Book, published in 2003 by the Attendants of Hieromonk Spyridon of New Skete, Mount Athos, Greece, is a modern English translation of common Greek Orthodox prayers found in many Proseuchetarion. The text is available online here.
- Orthodox Prayer Book, published by Holy Protection Monastery in Lake George, Colorado, is a modern English prayer book containing the common morning and evening prayers used in the Russian tradition, plus prayers for loved ones and various needs, Canons to Our Guardian Angel and for Repentance, Paraklesis to the Theokotos, and prayers before and after Holy Communion.
- Orthodox Christian Prayerbook, published by the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry, is an adaptation of the Book of Hours, or Horologion, for use by the laity. It contains Vespers, Small Compline, the Midnight Office, Daily Matins and First Hour, Third Hour, Sixth Hour and Typica, and the Ninth Hour arranged for use without clergy. The translation used is a modern English revision of the texts used by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
- Orthodox Prayers for Everyday is another adaptation of the Hours for use by the laity throughout the day. Complied and translated by Maureen Girard and published by Regina Orthodox Press, it also contains the Paschal Hours, Morning Prayers, Prayers Before Sleep, and Prayers Before Holy Communion. The translation used is a unique mix of old and modern English.
- A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers, published by St. Vladmir's Seminary Press, is for use by the laity. It contains Morning and Evening Prayers, Prayers for Different Occasions, Anthems and Hymns of the Greater Feasts and Saints' Days, the Slavonic and Greek Order of Confession, Prayers Before and After Holy Communion, and a Church calendar.
- Come To Me, published by Christ the Saviour Seminary Press in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is a publication of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese. It contains Morning and Evening Prayers, Prayers for Different Occasions, the diocesan text of the Divine Liturgy, the full text of Troparion/Kontakion and Prokeimenon of each Sunday, Special Hymns, the Order for Confession, and Prayers Before and After Holy Communion. The book also contains a number of instructional and catechetical articles on Confession and Communion, Reading the Bible, living an Orthodox life, as well as meditations on Holy Communion.
- Prayer Book in Accordance with the Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church, published by All Saints of Alaska Orthodox Church, an OCA parish in Victoria, British Columbia, contains modified morning and evening prayers derived from the Russian tradition, along with various troparia and kontakia, preparation prayers for Holy Communion and Confession, akathists to Our Lord and the Theotokos, occassional prayers, and third/sixth hours and typika service for when one is absent from the Divine Liturgy. It also contains almost a hundred pages of quotes from the Holy Fathers on prayer. The translation is a mix of old and contemporary English.
- Orthodox Daily Prayers, second edition, by St. Tikhon's Seminary Press is a revised version of their original prayer book published in 1982. It contains Morning Prayers and Prayers Before Sleep, prayers during the day, commemoration of the living and the dead, small compline, canons to our Guardian Angel, the Theotokos, of repentance, and of preparation for Holy Communion, as well as prayers before and after Communion. All arrangements follow the traditional Russian usage, and the translation used is the "Revised Liturgical English" used in most recent liturgical publications of St. Tikhon's Press.
- The Prayer Book, third edition, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA is a bilingual Ukrainian/modern English prayerbook comparable in scope to Holy Trinity Monastery's edition; contains morning, daytime and evening prayers, prayers and preparations for Confession and Holy Communion, the services of Great Vespers and Matins, the Divine Liturgy with prayers following communion, hymns from the Great Feasts, plus supplementary material for litia, molebens, and more. Hardbound with three sewn-in ribbons, it is available at St. Andrew Bookstore, South Bound Brook, New Jersey.