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 of the Bible
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Psalm 51(50):10
Good morning Prayer Team!
How many times in your life have you ever felt like you needed a do-over in your life? We all have, probably many times. The student wishes he could retake a test or rewrite a paper. The fired worker wishes he did some things different. There is regret when a marriage fails. It is many times impossible to take back a hurtful comment. Most of us have had the experience of losing a friend and wish we could go back and somehow take a different fork in the road. And more times than we can count, we’ve all felt like we’ve gone away from God because of a sin we have committed.
Thankfully, when it comes to our relationship with the Lord, there is always a way back. It is called repentance. And repentance begins with desire. There is no waiting period. One can express that desire at ANY time. The 50th Psalm (Psalm 51 in most Western Bibles) is the Orthodox Psalm of Repentance. It is offered during the Orthros service every morning, as a reminder not only that we need to be repenting, but as a COMFORTING prayer, asking for God to create a clean heart in us, to give us a new and right spirit, and to “restore unto me the joy of Your salvation” (v. 12). It is offered by the celebrant priest or bishop prior to the Great Entrance, as a gentle reminder of the importance of repentance.
Whenever I am in a time of sorrow, or sadness for what I’ve done, the 50th Psalm comes to my mind. I may not always be able to be forgiven by someone I have wronged, even if I’m sorry and repentant. But I can always come to God with repentance and count on Him to forgive and restore me.
Where is the practical application? If we are supposed to be working towards theosis, to become like God in our behavior, then we must not only repent to God, but make repentance towards one another. And more important, when one comes to us with a genuinely repentant heart, and asks us to “create a clean heart” and a “new spirit” within the relationship, ideally we are supposed to show the heart of the Lord and forgive and restore. Easier said than done of course.
This is not a mandate to go out and forgive your greatest enemy. But what a great start it would be for you to forgive a friend, and to restore a friendship to the fullness of what it could be. Today’s prayer takes three verses from Psalm 50/51 (v. 10-12). Pray this for yourself. Recall the parts of your relationship with God that need fixing and go at them with a clean heart. Think of your relationships with other people—go to them today with a clean and renewed heart. And most important, allow your friends to come to you in the same way. None of us go to church on a daily basis, but try to make this Psalm, or at least these three verses, part of your daily prayer life:
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Make a new start 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: Forward Movement
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