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.”
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Good morning, Prayer Team!
For this holy house, and for those who enter in it with faith, reverence and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.
We now turn our attention to our specific church community. And we pray for some very specific things. First we pray for our church building, that it may stand safe and strong. We pray for each person who is part of our church community. We pray for everyone who has gathered to worship with us.
And for what are we praying? We are praying for the strengthening of our collective faith. That we may be faithful in our practice of Christianity, that we may be consistent, and that we may be confident. We are praying for reverence, that we have a healthy respect for what we are doing. That we respect God’s commandments, that we respect one another, as we are all in His image. That we respect the words we offer in worship. If we pray to “glorify God with one voice and one heart,” then as we go about our daily lives, we are living them with a voice and a heart that glorifies God. Finally, we are praying that our experience of God through worship, be an experience that transforms us, that changes us for the better. We need a balance between “fear” of God and “joy” that we are God’s children. To live in the fear of God means that we recognize Christ as our Lord, and our judge, as both the God of mercy, and the God who will judge the totality of our lives. As we hear this petition, it is an inclusive petition, for us and for those around us, for those who are part of our community.
Finally, as we offer this prayer, we should think about all the different people in our community, those who are sick, those who are the leaders in the various ministries, those whom we know, and even the people whom we do not. All have come to grow in their faith. All are part of the same spiritual family. Let us get to know each person in our spiritual family, let us take care of one another in our community. Before we can take the Word of God beyond the bounds of our community, let us make sure that we are talking about Him, and living out His Word by helping others, WITHIN the bounds of our community.
Heavenly Father, bless our church community. Bless each person who is a member of our parish family. Bless each person who comes to worship. May we all do our part so that our worship experience is one of joy. May we all do our part so that our community is a place of safety and spiritual growth. May I always have a healthy respect, reverence and awe of You. Amen.
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