Every liturgical service of the Orthodox Church, as well as virtually all sacraments and special services, start with the Great Litany, sometimes after the reading of psalms. The petitions of this litany address the basic and general needs of every community and its members.
The Great Litany is called the ‘Litany of Peace’ because the first three petitions all concern peace:
- "In peace let us pray to the Lord"
- "For the peace from above..."
- "For the peace of the whole world..."
Next in the litany, the petitions concern needs:
- eternal salvation;
- for the welfare of God's churches and for the union of all
- for the faithful and God-fearing of the particular community
- for the bishops, priests, deacons and all the people of the Church
- for the nation and its institutions for which all are responsible: the president, civil authorities and armed forces
- for the given city and country and for all cities and countries
- for good weather and abundant crops
- for travelers, for the sick, the suffering and those in captivity.
After asking God for the deliverance from everything harmful and negative and for his divine help, salvation, mercy and protection, the people remember the Theotokos and all the saints and commend themselves and each other and all their life to Christ their God.
The Great Litany ends with a doxology proper to the Holy Trinity.
Great Litany The Orthodox Faith, Fr. Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir's Seminary.