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
And there Elijah came to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. I Kings 19: 9-13
Good morning Prayer Team!
Many people think that God reveals Himself in grand ways-in thunder and lightning, in loud noises or magnificent lights, in power and glory. And then when God doesn’t reveal Himself in this way, they are disappointed. Once in a great while in my ministry, God has revealed Himself in a profound way. I remember once praying with a young person that someone had brought to me for some counsel, and being nervous how things were going to unfold, I offered a prayer “Lord, You said where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also in the midst of them. We are three people here, please come and stand in the midst of us and be with us as we talk to each other.” And then I felt something almost like a small gust of wind, like God assuring us that He was there with us and everything seemed to unfold perfectly. This is a profound, at least to me, revealing of God. Most of the time, God doesn’t reveal Himself in this way-one moment prayer, then immediate profound moment.
Most times, when I feel God’s presence, it is a quiet, private moment of prayer. I could be standing alone in church praying, or just sitting quietly near the altar table, collecting my thoughts. The small, still voice of God is not theatrical. It is subtle. When it thunders outside, the noise is “un-missable,” You know that it has thundered, whether you were trying to listen or not. The voice of God can be heard, but only if one is listening. And where does one hear God? Sit in nature, listen to the sound of the wind, hear the sounds of nature, gaze at the silence of the stars. Kneel and pray, focus on being still, emptying your mind of stressful thoughts, and filling it with thoughts of gratitude and thankfulness. Read the Bible, then sit and meditate on the words. Don’t rush through the reading, slowly read each verse, let what you hear penetrate your mind, your heart, your soul. Carefully listen to the good things that other people say. Because sometimes God speaks through people.
We are so busy, we are so loud, we are so in a hurry that the small, still voice of God is sometimes hard to hear. Make it a goal today to sit in silence for five minutes. Focus on an icon, give it your full attention. And offer a prayer to God, again with your full attention. Measure out each word. Offer not only words of supplication and need but words of thanksgiving and praise. If you do this every day for 30 days, if you give God at least five minutes of your undivided time, to sit in silence (no noise, no music, no phone) and be alone with God, you will hear the small, still voice well before the 30 days is over. He is speaking to us, He is speaking softly. The question is, are we listening? Are we listening for a booming voice, or a still, small voice? Remember from the above quote from scripture, God was not in wind, earthquake or fire, but in small, still voice.
For today’s prayer, I am reprinting the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer that we often say so fast, we forget it’s meaning. Today it is printed in reverse, so that you can say it more slowly, line by line, letting it sink into your heart and your spirit. (A unit on the Lord’s Prayer, by the way, is coming very soon to the Prayer Team.)
Deliver us from evil.
Lead us not into temptation
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Forgive us our trespasses
Our daily bread
Give us this day
On earth as it is in heaven.
Thy will be done
Thy Kingdom come.
Hallowed be Thy name.
Who art in heaven
Have a great day!