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
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
Good morning Prayer Team!
Did you know that the average person is interrupted at work on an average of every 9 minutes? That’s 48 interruptions throughout the day. So, if someone challenged you to do one task for ONE HOUR, you might find it difficult if not impossible to do. Now, let’s say that you locked yourself in your office and told your secretary to hold all of your calls, could you focus for an hour? I don’t know about you but I don’t need phone calls and people popping in to distract me. The phone, texting, facebook, and the internet beckon at all times.
I think the thing that makes personal prayer time so hard is that we are overstimulated, and we never shut everything off. And if we do, we somehow feel guilty about it. Taking five minutes to shut everything off and pray, we might think, will put us five minutes behind everyone else. We don’t realize that those five minutes will be quickly made up AND THEN SOME.
At summer camp, we have a 15 minute period of time on the schedule called “Alone with God.” All activity stops. And we have 15 minutes of quiet time, when campers and staff are supposed to pray. I don’t know if the campers pray, or daydream, or what goes through their minds, because I am not in their minds. But I know that in my mind, I have no problem filling the time with prayer. Because NOTHING else is expected of me at that time, and there are no other external distractions. There is a set time of the day and a set duration. I can’t leave until the time period is over, which keeps me from quitting too fast. My problem is that when time isn’t scheduled, I either a) fail to make the time, or b)I make a “few minutes” of time, and then after a minute or two think, “well, that’s good enough.” Except that it isn’t.
Again, does my life revolve around God? Or do I struggle to fit God into my life? The first thing you need to do in any relationship, and yes our relationship with God IS a relationship, is that we have to spend time to build it. We can spend time reading about God, and talking about God, but we need to spend time sitting WITH God, and speaking WITH God. There is no ideal amount of time to spend with God—so I won’t say ideally it should be an hour, or 30 minutes or 15 minutes. Start with FIVE minutes, which seems like nothing in the span of the day, but for those who aren’t doing this, start with FIVE sacred minutes that you give to God, preferably early in the day. Don’t give Him the leftovers, give Him the first. Schedule it in. We schedule in all of our other important appointments. What can be more important than a daily appointment with the Lord? Schedule a minimum of a five minute appointment with God, and start today!
Today’s challenge: Sit for five minutes in silence. Find a quiet place to sit. Put away your phone. In fact, put your phone on the opposite side of the room where you are sitting and set an alarm for five minutes. And just sit in silence. If you can pray, great. But if you can’t pray, just make a commitment to sit, quietly, and not move, until the alarm goes off.
Lord, even You took time to sit alone and pray. Help me to clear my mind for five minutes, to sit in silence, to trust that the time I am giving to You will be easily recovered because in this sacred time that I will give to You, I will find recharging, focus and peace. Lord, give me the discipline and the courage to come to You every day, to give You not only time but to give You my joys, my sorrows and my needs, entrusting my cares and the challenges to You each day. Amen.
Give at least five minutes of sacred time to God today!
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