Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS: WHERE DO YOU STAND?
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27
These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, says the Lord. Zechariah 8:16-17
Good morning Prayer Team!
The next basic building block in a relationship, after respect, is communication. Let’s think first about our relationship with God. There is no relationship with Christ without communication. And this communication is primarily through prayer and scripture reading. Through prayer, we communicate with God. Through scripture, God communicates with us. In worship, we both speak and listen to God. This is why prayer, scripture reading and worship are central to the life of the Christian.
Let’s look now at our relationship with our neighbor from the communication perspective. If you want to build a relationship, you have to communicate. The root of communicate is the word “common.” You begin to build a relationship when you find something in common with someone else and you communicate about it. For instance, for those who are working, you establish a relationship with your co-workers, based on your shared job. You begin to talk about your job. And this may lead to a friendship where you talk about other things, like sports, families, etc. You can’t have a relationship without communication.
While communication builds a relationship, failure to communicate can also break a relationship. We become distant from God when we don’t pray for long stretches of time. This is why it is essential to pray every day, not only on days when we need something.
We also become distant from others when we don’t communicate. Failure to communicate is the root cause of most disagreements and acrimony in marriages and friendships. Common sense would say that we should tell someone when we are going to be late. Common sense would also say that we should voice concern or disagreement when we have either. Communication with others should always be respectful, kind and honest.
In communicating, we do not only speak, we listen. In communicating with the Lord, we are supposed to be good listeners, following directions we hear in the Bible, in sermons, in spiritual books, so that we can establish a strong relationship with Christ. You can’t have a good relationship if you are not a good listener to the things of God.
And with our neighbor, we also have to become good listeners. In our fast-paced world, many times we are offering an answer before someone has even asked their question, or we are offering a solution before we’ve taken time to listen to the problem. A good listener patiently hears what is being said.
Communication (from a spiritual perspective)—On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rank yourself on the following questions: Do I pray regularly, or only in times of need? Do I read the scriptures regularly? Is my mind and heart open to make changes based on the things I read?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Write down some ways that you can improve your communication with the Lord. Include setting some specific times to pray and read the scriptures.
Communication (from a relationship perspective)—Am I a good communicator? Am I polite, firm, honest and respectful? Do people know what they can expect from me?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Write down some ways to be a better listener. Make eye contact with people when they are talking. Don’t get distracted by your phone when someone is talking to you. Communicate your expectations in ways that are clear. Disagree in a respectful way.
Lord, thank You for giving us an ability to communicate with You and with others. Inspire my heart to pray consistently. Open my mind and heart to comprehend the meaning of sacred scripture. Help me to be a better listener. Give me the courage to communicate firmly but fairly and may I always glorify You and respect others in the things that I say to others. Amen.
Be an effective communicator today, with Christ and with your neighbors!
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