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.”
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 Seventeen
Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10
Good morning Prayer Team!
Okay, now we get to the part of prayer everyone likes, when we get to ask for what we want. This is called “supplication.” Supplication is asking God for something. The most common prayer of supplication in the church is “Lord, have mercy.” In the Divine Liturgy and in many other services, we supplicate/ask God for things. The priest does this by intoning petitions. The people respond with “Lord, have mercy,” a response of supplication asking God to grant whatever petition has been offered.
In corporate worship, we offer specific petitions for general things that cover everyone’s needs—for those who are sick, or traveling, for our country, for good weather, etc. These petitions are general enough that someone in the congregation needs them. After all, we all live in America, we should all be praying for our country.
When it comes to private prayer, however, the needs of each person are different. And in making our private supplications, we should offer prayers for the things that are specific and unique to our lives. We may pray for safe travels if we are traveling, or for wisdom as we enter a tense meeting, we may pray for the safety of a child who is away at college, or to discern whether we should change jobs. There are an infinite amount of needs that we can bring to our personal prayers.
Supplication is asking God for specific things. There is certainly nothing wrong with asking.
One of the ways I encourage people to pray is to offer up needs specific to TODAY. When you think of the needs for today (as opposed to tomorrow, next month, next year), what are the things that come to mind? Your children graduating from college and getting married is probably not a concern of today. Same thing with retirement.
When I ask God for things, I ask for the needs I have today. In a given day, I drive from home to work, so I ask for safety for travels. I make decisions every day, so I ask for wisdom. There are so many things I need to get done each day, so I ask for efficiency. I have always struggled with being patient, so I ask God each day for patience. If I have safety, wisdom, efficiency and patience, I feel like I can handle just about anything else that comes my way.
In recent years, as I have grown in my faith, there are two other things I ask God for each day. I ask God to help me glorify Him in all that I am doing. And I ask God for an opportunity to help someone each day, to put someone in my path that I can help. This last request, the opportunity to help someone, is one that sometimes makes me nervous. The person He puts in my path might be a family member or a friend, it might be a parishioner, or it might be a total stranger. And the opportunity He gives might come at an inopportune time, such as when I’m rushing out of the office to go home. To ask for God to provide an opportunity to help someone means that we have to be open to helping the person of God’s choosing at the time God chooses.
Every day, there are also specific things I ask for, things specific and unique to that day, such as having God’s grace before having a difficult conversation with someone. I ask for the right words to say, when comforting someone. And when I hear a confession, I ask God to put a thought into my head so that when the person confessing their sins is finished, I have a thought to discuss with them and to guide them with.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” Yes, there are times I pray for things in the future, but most of the time, I stick with the present, asking God to help me with the things I need help with today, TODAY!
O Lord, rebuke me not in Thy anger, nor chasten me in Thy wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubles. My soul also is sorely troubled. But Thou, O Lord, how long? Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of Thy steadfast love. For in death there is no remembrance of Thee; in Sheol who can give Thee praise? I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief, it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil; for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies shall be ashamed and sorely troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment. Psalm 6
There is nothing wrong with asking God for something in prayer. It is probably more beneficial to focus on the needs of today in prayer, and to ask God for opportunities to help others today as well!
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.
Photo Credit: FaithCounts
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