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. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
THE ENCOURAGEMENT PROJECT
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.
Psalm 51: 10-12
Good morning Prayer Team!
I have written on this verse of scripture before, usually focusing on the words “clean heart” to encourage either repentance or making a new start. Psalm 51 is known as the Psalm of repentance. It is read at the sacrament of confession and should be offered often in prayer as we are continually repenting and in need of a new start. In fact, it is read at the Orthros (morning prayer) service, as a way of encouraging this every morning.
In today’s writing, I want to focus on the word “me”. Because in praying for and working for clean hearts, the only heart we can control is our own. We most certainly should pray for those we know who have hearts that are beset with sadness or anger. We should always encourage joy and peace. But the only heart we truly have control over is our own.
The 51st Psalm is one we should pray often and ask God to come into our hearts, to put a new and right spirit within us, to give us joy, and to uphold us with spirits that are willing to offer Christian witness.
One of the best things about Christianity is that a new start is possible literally at ANY time. So much of our life has a “record” that follows us around. For instance, if a student is having a bad semester in class, he can only improve so much and is stuck until a new term begins. Some people are stuck in jobs and in other ways. Criminal records follow people forever. Even traffic tickets show up on a background check years later. The Christian, however, should never feel stuck in sin or spiritual sadness. Because the opportunity for a clean heart and a renewed spirit are on the table at all times. If you are reading this message at the beginning of the day, go for the “clean heart” today. And if you are reading it at the end of a bad day, go to bed with the clean heart on your mind and make your renewed start fresh tomorrow.
It is important to pray for and encourage others. It is also necessary to pray for oneself, and continually ask God for strength and encouragement to have the clean heart and renewed spirit.
Much as we’d sometimes like to, we can’t control others. The only heart that you can control is your own. So, focus on having a clean heart today. Ask God to keep YOUR heart pure and clean today.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy steadfast love; according to Thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. . .Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Fill me with joy and gladness. . .blot out my iniquities. . .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. . .Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise. Amen. (selected verses from the 51st Psalm)
Pray the 51st Psalm today!
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