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
Pray then like this: Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever and ever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13
Good morning Prayer Team!
The presence of God is at work in all the forms of goodness in our world. The presence of the devil is also at work in our world. If every good thing is from God, the devil tries to work his way into the good things in order to take the goodness from them. The devil tries to enter into friendships, into marriages, into Christian hearts, in order to turn people from goodness to evil. In the Garden of Eden, the devil was present in the form of a serpent, tempting Adam and Eve to eat fruit from a forbidden tree. The devil put the seed of greed and ingratitude into Adam and Eve. And rather than run to God, they fell prey to this temptation, which led them to disobedience, which led to the fall of mankind.
Because the Lord’s Prayer spans eternity, from “Our Father” who created the world, to “Thy Kingdom come” which points us to God’s return in glory, this phrase examines the Fall, and its consequences. No one is perfect. No human being is perfect. No human relationship is perfect. This is why life is a constant battle to avoid the bad and seek after the good. And this is truly a challenge for even the most dedicated of Christians. Where do I find balance? When someone wrongs me, where is the balance between firm correction and forgiveness? What is the appropriate balance between work life and family life? What is the appropriate balance between things I need to be doing and things I enjoy? Temptation threatens the delicate balance we need to maintain in all of these areas. Discernment and wisdom, patience and kindness, these are things that come from God and are tools to maintain the proper balance. These are things that come through prayer. So, as I pray to not fall into temptation, I pray for those things that keep me from falling-I pray for wisdom, patience, discernment and kindness. Focus on God and on Godly things is first and foremost what leads to balance. So this phrase also asks God to sharpen our focus, as we try to maintain our balance.
Of course, the Lord does not lead us into temptation, the devil does that. I’ve often wondered why this line doesn’t read “And lead us away from temptation.” God leads us to the good. In this phrase, we ask God to lead us, to be our guide, to set the tempo for our lives. We pray for our obedience to follow after the things of God. And we pray to avoid the temptations that come even when we try to follow God. We pray to have the strength to follow His lead, to avoid the bad, and to seek after the good.
And sometimes, we actually are not sure of what is right. I recall a scene in a movie where a young man gets on his knees and offers his first genuine prayer. He is in a lot of trouble and a lot of pain and doesn’t know what to do. His prayer was simple: “Lord, give me the strength to know what is right.”
Lord, thank You for every good thing that I have. Thank You for meaningful relationships, for the untold joys and blessings You have brought into my life. Help me to maintain my focus on You, help me to balance all the things I have in my life so that I may avoid temptations and give glory to You in all things. Give me the strength to know what is right. Give me the strength to do what is right in Your eyes. Amen.
Have a God-centered and balanced day!
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The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. OCN offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life. The Prayer Team is a daily devotion written by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, the parish priest at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida. Devotions include a verse from scripture, a commentary from Fr. Stavros, and a short prayer that he writes to match the topic.
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