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
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. II Timothy 3:14-16
Good morning Prayer Team!
Praying is an important part of the “Spiritual Life,” but is not the only important part of our spiritual growth. As important as prayer, is reading the Scriptures. The Scriptures were not written by God, but were inspired by God. It is amazing that the scriptures have been in existence for nearly 2,000 years without alteration. God continues to speak to us through the Scriptures. Why is it important to read the scriptures?
- This is how we LEARN about the saving work of Jesus Christ. There are many people who cannot articulate what happened when Jesus was crucified or rose from the dead. Read the Bible and learn.
- Jesus was a moral teacher—through the scriptures, He gave us the tools, rules and guidelines for how to live in Him, and how to prepare for eternal life. Through the scriptures, we learn how to live a Christ-centered, Christian life.
- What about the Old Testament? The Old Testament sets the stage for the New Testament. The “new covenant” in Christ is fully understood through the “old covenant” given to Moses.
- We remember—It is not enough to read the scriptures once. We read over and over again, to remember and reinforce what we believe.
- We peel back deeper layers—Each time I read the Scriptures, I learn something different. Read any passage of scripture with the idea of finding something you had never thought of, and indeed you will find something you never thought of. I read passages of scripture in middle age that speak to me totally different than they did to me as a child when I read them.
How to read the Scriptures:
- If you’ve never read the Bible, start by reading the Gospels. Read the teachings that came directly from Jesus Christ. Read about His life and what He did for us. If you’ve read the Gospels, read the Epistles. The Epistles were letters written to the early churches, and they still apply to our churches today.
- Read a chapter a day—everyone should try to read the Bible in its entirety at least once in their life. Ideally, read a chapter from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. You’ll finish the New Testament first, so then read the New Testament again. Why read from one chapter in each? Because some of the Old Testament is very tedious and hard to understand. Not every WORD in the Bible is going to speak to us. So, by reading one Old Testament Book and one New Testament Book, you are more likely to have at least ONE reading per day that will speak to you.
- Read according to the Orthodox lectionary—there are two scripture readings assigned to each day in the Orthodox Church—you can sign up for the “Daily Readings” by going to goarch.org and signing up to receive them. They will come to your phone or email each morning around 12:05 a.m. One is from the Gospels, and one is from the Epistles. During Lent, the readings are from the Old Testament.
- Read at random—just open the Bible to any passage and read it.
- It’s not about the quantity of what you read—you don’t have to read a whole chapter to get something out of the Bible. You can read only a few verses, and reflect on those few verses and be inspired.
As you are making a daily habit of prayer, try to integrate the Scriptures as well. A helpful suggestion is to pray in the morning and read scripture at night if you don’t have time to fit them together.
Challenge for Today: Incorporate the reading of scripture into your daily prayer routine.
Shine in our hearts loving Master, the pure light of Your divine knowledge and open our minds that we may comprehend the message of Your Gospel. Instill in us also reverence for Your Holy Commandments, so that having conquered sinful desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, thinking and doing those things that are pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the Light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give glory, with Your Father who is from everlasting and Your all-Holy, Good and life-creating Spirit, now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen. (from the Divine Liturgy)
Read the Bible today!
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