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 Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
For Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23
Good morning Prayer Team!
When our experience of worship is limited to the Divine Liturgy, and our experience of the Bible is limited to only what we hear in church, we will find that we only touch the tip of the iceberg as far as the beauty and depth of the Bible. The Old Testament is not heard in the Divine Liturgy, save for a few hymns. Other services, such as Vespers and Orthros, have Psalms and other Old Testament readings. During Lent, the Lenten services of the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy and the Great Compline have multiple readings from the book of Psalms.
There are 150 Psalms. They are attributed mostly to the King David, who wrote in joy and sorrow. The Psalms read as a journal of poetry. They are poetic, rather than narrative. And they read like a journal because they capture every mood of human existence. Every emotion is contained in the Psalms.
For instance, when you need hope, read Psalm 23.
When you need direction, read Psalm 143.
When you need a new start, read Psalm 51.
When you feel closer to Christ, read Psalm 18.
There are Psalms for every occasion in life. I encourage you to read all 150 Psalms. Keep a piece of paper next to your Bible and when you read one of the Psalms, write down the Psalm number and what emotion or feeling the Psalm gives to you. Then you will have your own guidebook of go-to Psalms to match your emotions.
The Psalms, by the way, are not to be “read”. We can offer them as prayers. Pray the Psalms. Whether we need hope, or a new start, whether we’ve had a triumph or a setback, there is a prayer, in the form of one of the Psalms that will capture our mood and allow us to stand more purposefully before God in prayer. I encourage you to become familiar with the Psalms and use them as prayers.
Read at least one Psalm every day, with a piece of paper, until all the Psalms have been covered and you can decide which fit in the specific places in your life.
The Lord is faithful in all His words, and gracious in all His deeds. The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to Thee, and Thou givest them their food in due season. Thou openest Thy hand, Thou satisfies the desire of every living thing. The Lord is just in all His ways, and kind in all His doings. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He fulfills the desire of all who fear Him, He also hears their cry, and saves them. The Lord preserves all who love Him; but all the wicked He will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless His holy name for ever and ever. (Psalm 145: 13-21, which is read at the conclusion of the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy)
Photo Credit: St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church
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