Prayers to the Forerunner: in what St. John the Baptist helps
John the Baptist is one of the greatest biblical prophets. It was he who baptized Jesus Christ himself in the Jordan River.
Before the baptism of my goddaughter, I decided to learn in detail about the forerunner, as they call the holy prophet John. I was also worried about the question of superstitions associated with the day of worshiping the beheading of the head of the prophet.
In the article I will tell you what the Orthodox Church thinks about folk beliefs, and what you can pray to St. John the Baptist.
The coming of the Baptist to the world is described in the gospel of Luke. The evangelist indicates that his parents were righteous people — the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth.
The birth of John was predicted by Zechariah by the Archangel Gabriel himself, as was the birth of Jesus Christ. Zechariah was elderly when the archangel gave him unexpected news, and the couple had no children either.
Zechariah did not believe the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel, for which he was punished by dumbness. The elder could only speak after the birth of his son and the naming of his name John, which in Aramaic means grace. Zechariah wrote the name John on a clay tablet, and only after that God opened his mouth.
The relatives wanted to name the baby in honor of his father Zechariah, but the elder prevented this and identified the name said to him in a vision by the archangel Gabriel.
Zechariah was killed by Herod’s warriors when they were looking for the newborn Jesus. Elizabeth with the baby John was able to hide inside the mountain by prayer to God.
For forty days, Elizabeth and John were in a shelter, eating dates and water from a stream. After that, Elizabeth died, and the baby was raised by an angel.
The matured John ate acridas (wild ants) and wild honey. He was wearing a camel fur cape, and his whole appearance expressed righteousness and asceticism. When the Forerunner appeared in the wilderness and prophesied, the Jews recognized in him the prophet Elijah, who was raised to heaven alive.
John was very similar to Elijah, so the Jews came to listen to him and believed all the words.
At that time, the people every day awaited the coming of the Messiah, who would save them from Roman despotism. People with great trepidation listened to the words of the prophet, because he foreshadowed the fulfillment of the desired — the coming of the Messiah. John absolved from repentance sins and washed from them in the waters of the Jordan.
Therefore was named the Baptist.
One day, Jesus appeared among the people to humbly take a bath in the Jordan from the prophet. John immediately recognized the Mission in him and said that he was not worthy to untie the straps on his sandals.
But Jesus answered that what was said was to be done. At that moment, the Holy Spirit descended on the Savior in the form of a dove and the words of the Lord sounded:
After Jesus was baptized, John continued to prophesy in the wilderness. After a while he was placed in the dungeon Herod for conviction of the sin of his adultery with his brother’s wife. Mad woman decided to take revenge on John for conviction of sin and deceived Herod.
She persuaded her daughter Salome to dance a dance at a big feast in honor of the birthday of the king. Having performed an erotic dance, Salome begged the head of the Baptist from the king.
Herod could not break the word given publicly and ordered the prophet to cut off the head. Thus died one of the greatest prophets of Judea, who baptized the Lord and Savior himself.
With the advent of the prophet John, the Old Testament history of the Jewish people is completed and a new covenant is opened — a prophecy about the Messiah, the Savior of all people on earth. He announced the arrival of a new era in the history of mankind, when the path of salvation is open to anyone.
Icon of the Baptist
In the Orthodox tradition of St. John revered the first after the angelic ranks. The most famous icon in Orthodoxy is the icon called “Head on a dish”.
It depicts the truncated head of the saint with his eyes closed and a nimbus above her. According to legend, the unholy Herodias greatly feared the resurrection of the prophet, therefore she demanded to bury John’s head separately from the body.
The icon of the prophet is addressed to those who seek to return to faith and repent of sins. Since the forerunner accepted the repentance of sinners and cleared of sins, it is to him that this request is addressed.
The saint helps to find the right path in life, to realize his sinful nature and to gain a bright mind.
If a person is overcome by sinful thoughts, he can turn to the prophet for deliverance from the trouble and the temptation of the devil. The saint purifies the mind and strengthens the spirit, and also calms the rebellious heart.
Also, the prophet is asked to strengthen the spirit during long church posts, because the saint lived on honey and acridas all his life. He did not suffer from hunger or malnutrition and set an example of ascetic life.
Childless couples ask the parents of the Forerunner, who are canonized, to bestow offspring.
Beekeepers are confident that the prophet will help them in breeding bees, as he himself ate wild honey.
The first prayer of the Forerunner:
The second prayer to the Forerunner:
Church tradition does not support popular beliefs about John the Baptist. For example, believing in a saint’s magical abilities is considered incomprehensible.
Some people believe that the saint can pray for the healing of the head.
Others believe that on the day of worshiping the beheading of the head of the saint it is impossible to eat round food — cabbage, turnips, etc. It is not even allowed to hold round objects and a large dish in their hands, even refusing to put plates on the table. The church considers these beliefs to be naive and not containing truths.
Superstitious people are afraid to use knives and sharp objects on the Baptist’s day. It is believed that holding a knife, takes the sin of John’s murderers.
However, church tradition does not approve of such beliefs, as it considers them fictional.
John the Baptist was sent by God to the earth in order to purify lost souls and renew the faith. He was preparing the world for the coming of the Savior Jesus Christ.
We should not forget about the greatness of the mission of the Baptist and celebrate on the day of his Christmas the pagan holiday of Ivan Kupala. This is a big sin.
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