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-Two
Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that hears no fruit, He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in E, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. John 15: 1-10
Good morning Prayer Team!
Why do we pray? This is the question that many people are asking when God hasn’t answered their prayers. Many people think of God as a genie or a magician or a vending machine, and when we don’t get what we want, we question why we are praying at all. This makes sense, if we see God as a vending machine, because who would keep pumping money into a vending machine if nothing came out of the machine, and if someone saw someone pumping money into a broken vending machine, certainly he would wonder aloud “Why are you doing that?”
The purpose of prayer is not primarily to ask for things. If prayer is all about asking, then we are just using God. In a sense we make ourselves God and God is serving us.
The goal of prayer is to abide in God, to abide in His love. In today’s Scripture quote, we read about a branch abiding with the vine. When the branch abides with the vine, it is secure and safe. When the branch is severed from the vine, it withers and dies. When we abide with God, we are secure and safe. That doesn’t mean that our every wish is granted. That doesn’t mean that life is all roses and is easy.
People don’t pray because they don’t get anything out of it. However, we are supposed to persevere in prayer, even when pray seems dry and our “requests” in prayer go unanswered, we are still supposed to persevere.
Many people use God like a drug, to get some kind of a fix. When they don’t get their fix anymore, they move on to something else. God is not like this. In fact, it is a sign of Christian maturity to continue to pray even when we don’t get anything out of it, even when our prayers are not answered.
The biggest reason to pray is simply because we love God. We also pray out of love for others. We show our love for others by bringing them to the Lord in prayer.
One of the greatest signs of love we have is when we spend time with others. No one can afford to waste time, because time is valuable to everyone. So, when we choose to spend time with someone, it is a sign of love for them. When we choose to spend time with God, it is a sign of our love for Him. Again, the biggest reason we pray is because we love god.
Prayer is to love being with God. We’ve all had the experience of being with a friend and time seems to stop. This is ideally what prayer becomes, a chance for time to stop and for us to be with God.
There are two Greek words for “time”—“chronos” and “Kairos”. “Chronos” is time measured is minutes, hours and days. This is man’s time. “Kairos” is God’s time. It is not measured. Even though we may spend fifteen minutes with God, ideally time would feel like it came to a stop. We experience a sense of timelessness when we are with someone we love or doing something we love. Time passes either too quickly, or lots of time passes and we don’t feel like any time has gone by. This is how it should feel when we abide with God.
Not only should we love to be with God. God loves to be with us. God invites us to share His company. Not only do we invite Him into our lives, but He invites us to abide, to be with Him.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people, from this time forth and forevermore. For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous put forth their hands to do wrong. Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! But those who turn aside upon their crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers! Peace be in Israel! Psalm 125
Abide with God in prayer 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.
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