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.
Go-To Verses from the Bible
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Good morning Prayer Team!
There are only 21 shopping days until Christmas! I’m not a big shopper so this doesn’t frighten me. But when I see only 21 more days until Christmas and realize the multitude of things I need to accomplish between now and then, it’s a little daunting. There are many students on the Prayer Team—high school and college students who are doing projects, writing papers and taking finals. There are many teachers who will be wrapping up the semester, testing and grading. There are business owners who have a busy three weeks in store for them, long hours, standing, making product, and selling. The “peace on earth” and “joy to the world” of Christmas seem very far away.
One of the things that is so great about the Bible is that our lives and our stresses mirror the lives and stresses of many Biblical figures. For instance, today’s verse appears in the first chapter of the book of Joshua in the Old Testament. Moses, who had been leading the people of Israel for forty years in the desert had died. Joshua was now being commissioned by God to lead the people of Israel into the Land of Canaan. The Canaanites were not preparing some huge celebration to welcome the Israelites. Quite the opposite. God was telling Joshua that his people were going to basically invade the land and that God was going to protect them and give them success.
Imagine how Joshua must have felt. Here this “rag-tag” group of people who took forty years to cross the desert (which couldn’t have been more than a few hundred miles) because of persistent arguing and infighting, was going to form up a fighting force and conquer the land of Canaan! I’m sure he lost a lot of sleep thinking about that.
Yet the Lord told Joshua “I will be with you; I still not forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5) He told him “only be strong and courageous, being careful to do according to all the Law which Moses my servant commanded you; turn not form it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7) In other words, the Lord was not going to forsake Joshua or the people of Israel and God wanted the people of Israel to trust Him.
Many times we find ourselves up against a task that seems impossible—like “I’ve so much work and so little time to get it done”—sound familiar? It’s at times like these where we should lean on God. Why? Because God can calm anxiety, God can bring courage, God can make good out of bad, and can make smooth the rough patches. Does that mean that having God makes everything easy? No. Does that mean that when we have God we won’t have bad days or frustrations? No. What it means is that when we have rough patches, bad days, frustrations and anxieties, that He can provide comfort in a way that no one else can.
When I’m unsure, the first thing I do is go to Him. I don’t ask for Him to solve my problems. I don’t expect Him to make my problems disappear. I do, however, believe He can be of help in any situation, with any problem. I usually ask for wisdom and a clear head so that I can see the solutions more clearly. Any challenge is easier to deal with if one has a relaxed mind. So, I ask for the relaxed mind, He gives it, and with His help I solve the problem or meet the challenge.
I find that in my prayers, I don’t ask for material things. Rather, I ask for things like patience, wisdom, stamina, efficiency and safety. As you begin what will be a busy and stressful week for some of you on the prayer team, lean even more heavily on prayer this week. Even though it seems like it will be counter-productive, or counter-intuitive, pause for a few minutes deliberately, during each day this week and pray. Set a goal for THREE periods of five minutes each—one at the beginning of the day, one at the end of the day, and one somewhere in the middle of the day, to silently pray, to sit with God and to ask Him for help in organizing your thoughts and relieving your anxieties, to give you wisdom, stamina, efficiency, and anything else you’ll need this week.
Lord, thank You for the gift of another week. Be with me in the challenges I will face this week (name some of them). Help me not to be anxious about (name things you are anxious about). Help me to have wisdom, stamina, efficiency and patience. Bless my work today. In all of my business and stress, help me still have meaningful time with my family and friends. May I still be kind and patient even as I am so busy. Amen.
Remember, like Joshua, the Lord is with us wherever we go, in whatever challenge we face. Whether you’ve got to climb a mountain of work or conquer a kingdom, be strong, don’t be frightened or dismayed. Have a great and efficient week!
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: Step by Step Journey
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