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 Three
Jesus said, “An in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Fathers knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray then like this:
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen. Matthew 6: 7-13
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
I recently read a book entitled “21 Seconds to Change Your World: Finding God’s healing and Abundance through Prayer.” The book is about the power of the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm. In one of the opening pages of the book, the author remarks that it takes an average of 21 seconds to recite the Lord’s Prayer. He then goes on to describe the Lord’s Prayer as the most complete prayer one can offer.
Let’s begin with the positive—the Lord’s Prayer is the most complete prayer. Dissecting it word by word, one sees its power and its completeness. The first two words, “Our Father,” remind us of the two great commandments, to love God and to love our neighbor. The word “Father” establishes our need to look at God as our Father and to love Him. The word “our” reminds us that we are to love our neighbor. The Lord’s Prayer is not offered in the singular, “My Father,” but even when prayed alone, it is in the plural, “Our Father.”
Who art in heaven reminds us of our purpose and our goal. God created us to share Paradise with Him. The Fall separated us from Paradise. The Resurrection of Christ opens the door back to Paradise, and now our life work is to reach that door and enter into Paradise once again.
Hallowed be Thy name reminds us that not only is God holy (Agios) and set apart, but that we are called to be holy and set apart as well. If God’s name is holy, and we are God’s children, then we are to glorify Him in our actions for to act unholy not only condemns us but blasphemes Him. To call upon God as holy means also to call on ourselves to be holy.
Thy Kingdom come is a prayer for God’s Kingdom to be present in our lives, not only at the end of them but in each day of them. God’s Kingdom is present for us in the Divine Liturgy, in prayer, and when we seek to live in harmony with Him and with those around us. We are called to live in the Kingdom each day of our lives.
Thy will be done is one of what I believe are the two hardest phrases in the Lord’s Prayer. Praying for God’s will to be done in our lives is a very humbling thing. Because it leaves open the possibility that His will conflicts with ours, which it often does. Praying for His will to be done reminds us to be humble and in many cases subservient to the will of God for us. If He is the Father, then we are the children. If He is the Master, then we are the servants. If we are at the controls of our lives, then there is no room for Him for be Father or Master. Thy will be done reminds us of our both His place and ours. To reach the Kingdom of heaven, we must serve Him by serving one another, and must be obedient to His will, especially when it is not in line with ours.
On earth as it is in heaven reminds us that God’s will for us to be one with Him is not just a reality that has to wait until we reach His Kingdom but that we can walk in tandem with God each day of our lives. By following His will (as we have discussed before, by abiding in Him) and being in step with Him, we can enjoy the rewards of heaven throughout our life on earth.
Give us this day our daily bread refers to the manna that fell from heaven and gave sustenance to the Israelites during their forty years in the desert. God provided the manna each day, in an amount that was sufficient for that day. There wasn’t enough for the people to store it up for days (except the day before the Sabbath). They had to collect it each day and they had to trust in God that it would be there each day. Likewise, we ask the Lord to provide us with what we need to get through today, trusting that He will provide for us today, and then again tomorrow. This phrase reminds us to worry about today (and not so much tomorrow) and to trust God to provide for our needs on a daily basis.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors is the other phrase that is very difficult to prayer. Because it asks God to forgive us our debts IN THE SAME WAY as we are forgiving the debts of others. If we cannot forgive others, how can we expect God to forgive us? This is another very humbling statement. If we expect generous forgiveness from God for our many sins, then we must be generous with our forgiveness as well.
Of course, we know that the Lord will lead us not in temptation. It is we who find and fall to temptation. If the Lord is the leader of our lives, if we have moved over and given Him the wheel of our lives, then we are not going to fall into temptation.
However, when we are tempted, or even when we fall prey to temptation, we ask the Lord to “deliver us from evil.” We have asked the Lord to keep us away from all harm and to rescue us when we are in harm’s way.
For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen. This means that the Kingdom, power and glory belong to the Lord today, tomorrow and forever. We can live in His Kingdom forever but also can live in it today. We should give God the power over our lives today and tomorrow and always. And we should glorify God in all that we do, today, tomorrow and always. We glorify Him and He will glorify us.
So, if this is the complete prayer, then what is the pitfall? First, it took you a lot longer than twenty-one seconds to read this explanation of the Lord’s Prayer. So when we rattle off the prayer in twenty-one seconds, it is really hard to appreciate all of its meaning. Second, many people think that the Lord’s Prayer is sufficient for a daily prayer routine. So they spend TWENTY-ONE SECONDS with God once or maybe twice a day and think this will establish a solid relationship between them and God. Twenty-one seconds times seven days, comes out to two-and-a-half minutes a week in prayer. That hardly makes for a good prayer life or a solid relationship with the Lord. The Lord’s Prayer is the consummate prayer, but it can’t be the only prayer we know and the only prayer we offer. It also can’t be prayed in a mere twenty-one seconds once a day.
So here is a challenge for today. There are eleven phrases in the Lord’s Prayer. I’m not a fan of praying with a watch, but here is something to try once. Using a watch, spend eleven minutes on the Lord’s Prayer. Each minute, pray one phrase and then meditate on the phrase for a minute. As you pray Our Father, spend a minute thanking God for being your Father, and then think of neighbors that you’d like to pray for. With each phrase, think about its deeper meaning and then pray over the other thoughts that come to your mind.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer at least once per day, but pray it more purposefully!
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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