Speaking with God from the
Depths of the Heart
by St. Grigor Narekatsi
The voice of a sighing heart, its sobs and mournful cries, (1)
I offer up to you, O Seer of Secrets, (2)
placing the fruits of my wavering mind (3)
as a savory sacrifice on the fire of my grieving soul (4)
to be delivered to you in the censer of my will.
Compassionate Lord, breathe in
this offering and look more favorably on it
than upon a more sumptuous sacrifice (5)
offered with rich smoke. Please find
this simple string of words acceptable.
Do not turn in disdain.
May this unsolicited gift reach you,
this sacrifice of words (6)
from the deep mystery-filled chamber
of my feelings, consumed in flames
fueled by whatever grace I may have within me. (7)
As I pray, do not let these
pleas annoy you, Almighty,
like the raised hands of Jacob,
whose irreverence was rebuked
by Isaiah, (8) nor let them seem like the impudence
of Babylon criticized in the 72nd Psalm.
But let these words be acceptable
as were the fragrant offerings
in the tabernacle at Shiloh (9)
raised again by David on his return from captivity
as the resting place for the ark of the covenant,
a symbol for the restoration of my lost soul.
1 ...... Cf. Ps. 6:7; See, also, Ps. 38:9-10, (“For my
soul is filled with torment, and there is no cure for my body. I am
tortured and laid low in the extreme, and I groan with the sighs of my
heart.”); Rom. 8:26 (“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for
we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself
intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words, and he who searches the
hearts of men knows what is in the mind of Spirit, because the Spirit
intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”). But See Is.
2 ...... Ps. 44:21.
3 ...... Ps. 42:6 (“Why are you cast down, my soul?”);
also incanted by the deacon during the Ascension to the Altar at the
beginning of the Armenian Divine Liturgy.
4 ...... Ps. 39:3.
5 ...... Ps. 51:15-20, Am. 5:22.
6 ...... Cf. Divine Liturgy, Hymn of the Angels
“Hreshtakayin” (“myriads of angels worship youa, yet it was pleasing to
you to receive praise in a mysterious voice from human beings.”).
7 ...... Ps. 92:14 (“They [the righteous] shall still
bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.”); Cf.
Pr. 11:25 (“The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth
shall be watered also himself.”); See Lev. 1:8-13; For “fat as a choice
offering,” See, Lev. 4:8-9 (“and the fat that is upon them”); Philip.
4:18 (“I have all and abound: I am full . . . an odor of sweet smell, a
sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.”); Lk. 6:46 (“For the good
man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good . . . for out of
the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”); But see, Is. 6:10.
8 ...... Is. 1:15.
9 ...... 2 Sam. 6:17.
Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart - Part 2
Prayers Useful to Many faiths