I recently learned about St. Basil’s (Vasile’s) prayers, and I would like you to explain more from the Bible’s perspective what they represent. When, how, where and who can read them and for what purpose?
St. Basil (Vasile) the Great, bishop of Caesarea, is one of the most important fathers of the Orthodox Church and one of the greatest Christian theologians. He was born in Pontus around 329 and died in Caesarea on January 1, 379.
The website www.biserica.org gives the following explanation regarding these molitvas:
The prayers of St. Basil (Vasile) the Great and St. John Chrysostom, also called exorcisms, are the strongest prayers against unclean spirits in people and homes. They are read only by old priests and clergymen who have a clean life and are great fasters and who have a release from their clergymen to read them, because if they are read by young priests, without fasting and living as clean as possible, the devils torment those who are sick and do not come out of people, sometimes taking revenge with great temptations on those who read the molitvas. The molitvas of expelling devils from humans and even animals are read only on fasting days, especially at midnight in the church, in front of miracle-working icons or near the relics with bones of saints. Both the priest who reads them and those who are sick of unclean spirits with their relatives and companions must fast for at least a day and a night, sometimes even three days. When the sick possessed by evil spirits do not heal, the general confession of the sick and their relatives will be made, lest any of them have committed grievous sins that remained unconfessed. Then the molitvas of Saint Basil (Vasile) the Great are repeated three times at midnight, one day to three days of fasting. After a short time, the patient must be taken to the Holy Relics and to the Miraculous Icons of the country in order to read the prayers of Saint Basil (Vasile) the Great.
What does the Bible say about exorcism?
This is a broader topic that God talks about a lot in the Bible and deserves to be addressed in a separate article. Here I would like to limit myself only to a text from the Gospel of Mark. In chapter 10 of this gospel it is written that the Lord Jesus, when he sent his disciples to preach the gospel, gave them power to cast out unclean spirits. So here’s what happened once:
When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers terribly; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was healed at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” And He said to them, “Because of your meager faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:14-21)
So faith, prayer, and fasting are very important when it comes to casting out unclean spirits from people.
What does the Bible not say about exorcism?
- Nowhere in the Bible is there a specific pattern of exorcism prayer that must then be observed verbatim at all times and by all church ministers who will cast out unclean spirits.
- It is not said anywhere in the Bible that the power of prayer comes from the wording or skill of its formulation, but it comes from the faith of the one who prays, as we have seen from the previous text. The apostles’ problem was not how they prayed, but the extent of their faith.
- The Bible does not say that only elders can offer exorcism prayers. Pure life, however, is also very important, the measure of their faith, because God hears the prayer of the righteous in faith.
- The Bible does not say that prayers to cast out unclean spirits should be read only in a certain place and only at a certain time, such as midnight. The apostle Paul drove the spirit of divination out of the slave girl when he went to the place of prayer. (Acts 16:16)
Translated by Didina Vicliuc