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.”
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 102(103): 8-12)
Good morning Prayer Team!
Today and tomorrow we’ll wrap up our discussion on forgiveness. We know that God is a loving God. We know that He is also going to judge each life, each soul, and make a determination of whether it is worthy of entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, or will be consigned to the fire of Hades. Throughout the Bible, we are given encouragement that God will give us every chance to “get it right” when it comes to our faith and how we live out that faith. He will give us ample opportunities to succeed. If we choose to go away from Him, and miss the many opportunities that He will give us, then there is truly reason to fear. But if we are “trying” (and this is where it gets subjective) to live a life in Christ, He will guide us, honor us, forgive us and be patient with us as we find the way.
The above Psalm is so comforting, that the Lord is merciful and gracious, that He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He is easy to entreat, and easy to forgive. He is not going to deal with us as our sins demand (the wages of sin is death-Romans 6:23). He has infinite love for us when we come to Him with awe and respect. As far as the east is from the west, this is how far He removes our sins from us when we come back in repentance. Psalm 134:22 tells us that “The Lord redeems the life of His servants; none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.” All of this opens the door for us to receive forgiveness from God.
One of the most comforting services in the church year is the sacrament of Holy Unction, because it speaks to us of God’s great mercies and forgiveness that is imparted through the oil of Holy Unction. The seven beautiful prayers provide reassurance of God’s love even in the midst of our sins. Today’s prayer will be a combination of some of these seven prayers. Please pray this prayer at least twice-once as a student, understanding all the beautiful things God says to us in regards to His mercies on our sins, and once as a prayer, asking God for those mercies.
O Lord, Who are without beginning, You are a great and marvelous God, who keeps Your covenant You mercy to them who love You; (first prayer) You o Lord, who are easy to be entreated; You alone are merciful and You love mankind; You are sorrowful for our evil deeds; You do not desire the death of a sinner but rather that He should repent and live. Forgive whatever I have done amiss, whether by word, deed or thought, and cleanse me from every sin; and abiding ever present with me, preserve me for the remaining years of my life, that walking ever in Your commandments, I may in no way become an object of joy to the devil. (second prayer); For if You enter into judgment with Your servants, none will be found clean from stain; but every mouth shall be sealed, not having any defense; for as discarded rags is all our religious before You; wherefore, O Lord, remember not the sins of our youth. For You are the hope of the hopeless, and the rest of those who labor and are heavily-laden with iniquity. (Fifth Prayer) You only are sinless; your righteousness is to all eternity, and Your word is truth. For You have not created man for destruction but for the keeping of Your commandments and for the inheriting of life incorruptible. (seventh prayer) For as is Your majesty, so is Your mercy, and to You we send up glory; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen. (sixth prayer)
Have an inspired 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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