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 God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.”
Good morning Prayer Team!
For those who have been reading my messages for a while, you hopefully realize that I’m neither a theologian or a scholar. I try to write for the “common man”. Because I consider myself not only a priest, but a “common man” as well. Despite having served as a priest for many years, I am still not a spiritual master. I have a lot more to learn about even the most basic of spiritual disciplines, including prayer.
One prayer team member approached me recently and said that they read a lot about prayer, how to pray, etc., but still are having a hard time actually praying, and asked me for some specific things to get them more committed to the idea of praying. So, beginning on Monday, February 1, I will have ten days of “challenges” for the prayer team, and I hope at the end of these ten days, you will all be committed, or more committed, to personal prayer time each and every day.
On a sports team, team members spend a lot of time together—practicing, planning and playing. But they still spend a lot of time apart. What are they doing in that alone time? They have nutritionists who give them plans for healthy diets. Health food is served in the team cafeteria. But what about when they are alone? Do they adhere to the plan when no one is looking?
The goal of the prayer team is to pray. Some of you don’t know anyone else on the prayer team. But there are many people who are reading these messages every day. Do you pray for them? You are faithful about reading these messages. But do you offer a prayer after you read them?
The very first commandment that God have His people, was that He is God and we are to have no other gods before Him. When people go to confession and look over the “Ten Commandments in Preparation for Confession” worksheet, that lists all the commandments along with a breakdown of sins that fit under each commandment, the very first question to ponder under the first commandment is this: “Is God the source, center and hope of my life?” Ultimately, EVERY SIN we commit is a violation of this commandment. If God is truly the source and center of our life, then we would have no sin. When we strive to place Him in the center, we will sin less. If we fit Him around life, then when life gets busy, He gets squeezed out. And when temptation abounds, we tend to fall prey to it.
So, over the weekend, ponder on this question: Does your life revolve around God? Or does God fit in around your life?
Do you have to “try” to fit in prayer around your other things? Or do the other things fit in around prayer?
These are tough questions. To answer them with honesty will probably be quite sobering. After the usual reflections on the Liturgy this weekend, please tune in Monday for some short, succinct reflections on concrete ways to build your prayer life, along with some challenges, that if you strive to achieve them, will rocket your prayer life into a higher orbit if you are faithful pray-er, and will get you into orbit if your prayer life feels like its grounded.
Thank you to everyone who is reading this message today. Thank you for taking the time to “hear” what I offer each day. The next several reflections will be designed to move us to become better “do-ers” when it comes to praying.
Lord, thank You for the gift of this prayer team. Thank You for everyone who is reading this message today. Bless and protect everyone on this team, those that I know, and those who I don’t. Give us a restful weekend. Open my mind and my heart to accept some new challenges for my prayer life. Help me always strive to keep you as the source and center and hope of my life. Help me each day to move You to the center, fitting my life around You! In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Have a good weekend!
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