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
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
Prayer: Abiding in God’s Love—Part Twenty-One
Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
Good morning Prayer Team!
For how long should I pray? Before answering this question, let us pose some other more practical questions: How long should I talk to my spouse each day? How long should I spend with my children each day? How long should conversations with a friend last and how often should I make them? When we look at these questions, we realize that we don’t really measure the time we spend with our spouses, our children and our friends. Any chance there is to talk to our spouses and children, we take them. Conversations with friends can stretch an hour or more because we lose track of time. And yet it seems for most of us, we put God on a timer, we “give Him His due.” Nobody prays enough. And for many, our time in prayer is a chore, rather than a joy.
Lately, I’ve been riding a stationary bike for exercise. I can’t say I truly enjoy exercising but I know I need to. I ride for a set period of time and a set distance and once I meet either my distance or my time, I stop immediately, almost glad that the experience is over. Our experience with God should not be like this, but sadly, for many, it is.
So, let’s be practical and pragmatic now. There has to be an answer to this question. And the simple answer is, we need time alone each day to be still and be with God. We need some time every day to pray while doing nothing else, to pray without distraction. We are being told more and more that we should text while driving because that makes us distracted drivers. Well, we can pray while driving, but prayer shouldn’t be confined to the car. We can pray while walking to a meeting, but prayer shouldn’t be confined to only when we are walking. We need a set time to pray and read Scripture where we are silent and still, without distraction.
Some will say that an hour is the ideal amount of time each day to be silent and still and be with God. I would argue that if we’ve never done that, an hour is very daunting and we will have a hard time sticking with that. I think that fifteen minutes of quiet time with God is an achievable goal, and then spurts throughout the day in the car, behind the desk at work, while walking to a meeting, etc.
Now this fifteen minutes ideally is without distraction, without the phones that we are so addicted to. In fact, some times when pray in the altar at church in the morning, I put the phone on the other side of the altar, set the alarm for 15 minutes and then go and sit and pray. I don’t look at the phone, I don’t look at the time. I pray and/or read the Bible until the alarm goes off. Fifteen minutes of silence actually feels like a long time. And one can accomplish a lot in fifteen minutes of prayer.
When you pray, set a goal for what you want to accomplish in prayer. Perhaps a few minutes of prayers you know, to get your mind warmed up. Then some time to pray from the heart, for the things you need. Then spend a couple minutes reading Scripture, and then a few more minutes sitting with the Scripture you’ve read, allowing God to speak to you through what you’ve heard. If you read the Prayer Team messages each day, that can be part of your prayer routine, reading something about God. So, five minutes of prayer, five minutes of Scripture, and five minutes of reading. Fifteen minutes of stillness to start the day. This would be bolstered by prayers throughout the day.
Many people who are married or who have children check in via text with our loved ones throughout the day. A quick “I hope you’re having a good day” or “I’m thinking of you” or “I can’t wait to see you tonight” or “I love you.” Most of us do this. A prayer during the day would be much the same, a short “check-in” with God to ask for His help, or to thank Him for something that has happened, or just to say “I love You God, thanks for all that You do for me.”
And if we get to a point where fifteen minutes of silence doesn’t feel like enough, we can always add more. But let’s make it a goal to start there. Fifteen minutes of silence with at least five short prayers throughout the day—before a meal (that’s three of them right there), before starting the work day, before driving, upon getting home, etc.
Start off small, but purposeful and quiet. Make goals for what you want to accomplish in prayer, and then begin to work at them.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, through the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He shutters His voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come, behold the works of the Lord, how He has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear, He burns the chariots with fire! “Be still, and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Psalm 46
Spend some time being still with God today!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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