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”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Pray then like this: Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever and ever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13
Good morning Prayer Team!
Wait! Wait! You skipped a phrase. What about “on earth”?
When we pray the Lord’s Prayer in Greek, we actually say, “Eltheto i Vasilias Sou” (Thy Kingdom come), “os en Ourano” (As in heaven) “epi tis gis” (to be on the earth). So, literally, the prayer says “Thy will be done, as it is in heaven, to be so on earth.” The way we offer the prayer in English, traditionally, makes me think, “Thy will be done, on earth,” and hopefully it matches “as it is in heaven.” Offering this prayer in the Greek order, helps us to understand first that there is a heavenly standard, and to THAT standard should we conform our behavior on earth.
So, what is God’s will for us in heaven, and how do we bring that to the earth?
God’s will for us is to inherit His Kingdom, where there will be abundance:
“In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up-for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.” (Genesis 2:4-6)-All good things will come without any need for toil or labor.
“And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” (Genesis 2: 9) The experience of heaven will be everlasting pleasantness.
“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:25) There will be no sin, and therefore no guilt or shame.
This is how God wills us to live in heaven.
Does this mean that in heaven we are robots? I don’t think so. If a person experiences more happiness than they could ever imagine, I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to be part of that program. God does not force us to believe in Him, or follow Him, but rather puts out the template for us to get to Him. I can’t impose my will on my 8 year old son. I can say that if I had it my way, he will go to college, get married, own a nice home, (and make enough money to take care of us in our old age). I certainly will encourage him to do these things-not the money for old age-but ultimately the choice is his. I will try to set up his life to encourage these things, but ultimately he will choose what he wants to do and will live with those consequences, good or bad.
God desires us to live with Him in heaven. He has provided the template for us, and the means to reach heaven. It is up to us to follow the roadmap-we have every opportunity to follow and every opportunity to go a different way. On Monday we will examine the roadmap from earth to heaven. But today, I’ve started not with the map, but with the destination. If we don’t have a desire for the destination, the journey won’t be a good one. Does your life today reflect a desire to live in unity with God on an eternal basis? Are you seeking purity, or living in guilt and shame? Focus today on God’s will being done in heaven, and what does that mean for you today. And look carefully at what you are doing today, and evaluate each thing you do, and each decision you make, and ask yourself, in the eyes of God, where does what I’m doing factor between dignity and shame? Put a mark between each of these two words in reference to every decision you make today, and see how you score.
Lord, help me to be a person a dignity today. Help me to dream about heaven. Take away my desire to do shameful things. May I give glory to You in all that I do today.
Have a dignified day!
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The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. OCN offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life. The Prayer Team is a daily devotion written by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, the parish priest at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida. Devotions include a verse from scripture, a commentary from Fr. Stavros, and a short prayer that he writes to match the topic.
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