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
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12: 1-2
Good morning Prayer Team!
Many people misunderstand prayer, which is why it remains a challenge, and sometimes, a frustration. Many people think of prayer as a vending machine. We order up something, push the button and we get it. This is why people are sometimes disappointed that their prayers aren’t granted like wishes from a magic genie.
Some people only go to the Lord in prayer when things are going wrong. If we think about our relationships with people, can you imagine what kind of relationship you’d have with someone if you only went to them in bad times? If there were never any good times? There wouldn’t be much of a relationship at all.
I’m reading a book this Lent entitled “Rediscover Jesus” by Matthew Kelly. One chapter on prayer offered a pretty profound thought on prayer—the idea of tweaking versus transforming. Many times, we ask God to tweak something in prayer—get me a job promotion, fix my marriage, make my kid better at math. We ask God continually for little tweaks in our lives.
Do we ever ask God to “transform” our lives and just leave it at that? Do we ever ask God to “make us His instrument today”? This leaves God in control of our lives, rather than us. This opens us up to His will, rather than just asking Him to tweak our own will.
It brings to mind the question of what is our number one goal in life—glorifying God, or personal achievement. So, if you are walking into a critical meeting at work, do you walk in there with your goals or His goals? This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have goals, but while we are setting goals, we should keep in mind His goals, His plans for us. Why not walk into a meeting with both?
Many times in my work, my day gets interrupted by unforeseen events. Someone is sick or dying suddenly, or someone walks into the office with a crisis. I’m a creature of habit. I like routines. I don’t like surprises. In a given week, I get a few surprises, a few unexpected things that happen. I may walk into the office with my plan for my day. And that plan may be superseded by His plan, unexpected encounters with people He sends my way. I’ve learned over the years to not greet surprises with consternation, but with the thought of giving glory to God in whatever unexpected thing happens. For these are unexpected opportunities to help others and to glorify Him.
Back to prayer, every day, in our prayers, we should ask God to transform our lives, and to use us to transform others. It’s not about tweaking us to match our goals for ourselves. It’s about transforming ourselves to glorify Him, and match His goals for us. As we read in Isaiah 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. A prayer for transformation leaves us open to His thoughts and His ways, rather than just our own.
Here I am.
I trust that You have an incredible plan for me.
Transform me. Transform my life.
Everything is on the table.
Take what You want to take and give what You want to give.
Transform me into the person You created me to be, so I can live the life You envision for me.
I hold nothing back;
I am 100 percent available.
How can I help?
(From the book “Rediscover Jesus,” by Matthew Kelly)
Ask God to transform your life today, and to use you to transform others!
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