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 Twenty
Pray constantly. I Thessalonians 5:17
Good morning Prayer Team!
Saint Paul gives us the easiest answer to the question “When should I pray?” when he writes in I Thessalonians 5: 17 “pray constantly.” What does that mean? Does that mean that we do nothing else but pray?
This question can be answered in three ways. The first is the most simple—choose times throughout the day and pray at those specific times. Pray when you get up in the morning. We discussed previously the “rule of 5,” to thank God for five things each morning. To this, we can add, pray for five people and pray for five specific things you need TODAY. Not throughout your life, not in a week, but rather the needs of today. A sample pray for the rule of five can be something like this:
Lord, thank You for the gift of another day of life.
Thank You for my spouse and the gift of our marriage.
Thank You for my son (or children) and gift of parenting.
Thank You for the roof over my head and the food in my kitchen.
Thank You that I have a place to go today, and the means by which to get there.
Please watch over my family.
Please watch over my parish family.
Please watch over those who are sick.
Please watch over those who are in need.
Please watch over all those whom I will meet today.
As I begin my day, Lord, give me patience for whatever will happen today.
Give me efficiency in my tasks.
Give me wisdom in the decisions I make.
Keep me safe in my travels.
Give me an opportunity to serve You by serving someone else today.
It should not take more than two minutes to offer a prayer like this as you get out of bed in the morning. Fifteen short sentences. (Of course, you can pray longer, but this is a good starting place if you are not used to praying at all.)
Some other good opportunities to pray:
1. Before and after meals
2. Before and after riding in the car
3. At the beginning and end of the work day
4. Before each task (meeting, phone call, project)
5. Before you open the door to your home when you get home at night.
It’s really important to pray at the start of each day. Why? Because it starts the day with God. And it allows the events of the day to all be placed under the umbrella of prayer. It also makes a statement that we give our first fruits to God. The most important thing we give to God is our time, and praying in the morning reflects for Him and for us, His place in our lives.
It is more beneficial for us to lay our calendar in front of the Lord as we open it, rather than as we close it. It is very beneficial for us to ask God for His grace upon the things that are on the calendar before we face them, rather than after.
A prayer at the end of the day goes something like this: “Lord, You know that I love You. I’m tired. I’ll talk to You tomorrow.” And then this becomes a habit, to give the last, or the leftovers, or the “crumbs” to God.
The second way to pray constantly is to be in a “state of prayer” throughout the day. The best way to explain this is to think about keeping ourselves in proper balance as far as hydration goes. We know from medical science that the body performs at its best when it has the optimal amount of hydration. So, if we live in a “state of hydration,” it means that we are hydrating throughout the day. We hydrate in the morning to start the day and then we hydrate throughout the day to keep our bodies in a state to perform at our best. I would say that prayer works in the same way—we start the day with prayer, and then pray throughout the day in short amounts but at frequent intervals and then we maintain an optimal state of spirituality throughout the day.
The third way to pray throughout the day is to offer our work as prayer. If we think of our jobs as ministries, rather than as vocations, then we will do whatever job it is we do for God’s glory first, and for financial gain second. Work is prayer if as we work, we seek to give God glory in what we are doing.
The answer to the question of when we should pray is simple—set dedicated time for prayer in the morning, and then pray in short spurts throughout the day.
Oh, how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Thy commandment makes me wiser than my enemies for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep Thy precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep Thy word. I do not turn aside from Thy ordinances, for Thou hast taught me. How sweet are Thy words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:97-103
Pray throughout the day today!
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: Crosswalk
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