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
Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of Mine that bears 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 Me, 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. John 15:1-9
Good morning Prayer Team!
The ideal relationship with anyone, I would think, is being in perfect sync with them. Whether you are talking about a spouse, a parent, a child or a friend, the relationship is at its best when we are on the same page.
The same is true for our relationship with the Lord. He abides in us. There is no question about that. From the moment we are conceived in the womb, we have the Spirit of God within us. We receive God continually through the sacraments, and through His grace and blessings that He bestows upon us. Even seeing the light of a new day today is an experience of God abiding in us. The questions for us are, do we abide in Him? Do we strive to be on the same page with Him? Do we wish to be one with Him? Are we going to strive to match our will with His will today?
And what is God’s will for us today? Is it already pre-planned out and we are just going through the motions? NO. God’s will for us today is to love one another, to glorify Him in all that we do. That is His will for everyday for everybody. Some will glorify God as teachers, others as doctors, others as moms and dads. Each has a different calling and a different opportunity. God makes His will known. It is our choice whether to follow.
Honoring the Lord and growing closer to Him happen when we abide in Him, when we strive to make a relationship with Him. What a beautiful picture He paints for us—that He is the vine, and we are the branches. When the branches are united to the vine, they are alive and beautiful. When the branches fall away from the vine, they are dead and useless. However, the vines need pruning, they occasionally need to be cut back, so that they can grow even more beautiful.
Prayer is like daily pruning. It makes us abide ever stronger with the vine, and it makes us more beautiful inside and out. We cannot glorify God apart from God. Only when we walk in step with God do we glorify Him.
We shouldn’t look at prayer as something we are “required” to do. It shouldn’t be on the list of things we “check off” every day. Rather we should set aside some time to “abide in His love.” Nothing can hurt us when we are praying. In fact in the storms of life, prayer is the one thing that is guaranteed to bring us calmness. Spend a few quiet moments abiding in God’s love today. He abides in you. Abide in Him today. He has already made His home in you. Make part of your home, your life, about Him today.
Challenge for Today: Pray while looking at a tree, and meditate on the teaching about the vine and the branches. Ask yourself in what way is God the “vine” of your life. And reflect on whether you as a branch are strongly attached or separated, and in what ways can you be pruned to abide even stronger with the Lord.
Lord, thank You for the very gift of my life. Help me to consistently make You its foundation. Continue to abide in me. Give me the encouragement and strength to continue to abide in You. May my work today be pleasing to You! May it bring honor and glory to Your Holy Name, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Abide in God today!
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