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
They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles. Isaiah 40:31
Good morning Prayer Team!
When the prayer team reflections started nearly a year ago, the goal was to get people to pray more. The Advent series we just completed was intended to help us understand more about the Nativity of Christ, and in turn, for this to enhance our reading of scriptures (our hearing of God’s Word), as well as our speaking to God (our prayer life). Many people are reading these messages via email and via the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) and for that I am very humbled and grateful to God. The hope for the Prayer Team going forward is to continue to write on “Praying the Liturgy” on Saturdays and Sundays and to write on various topics on the weekdays. On February 21 we will begin a new series of reflections on the scriptures of Triodion, Great Lent and Holy Week. I want to thank you for your encouragement and most especially, for your prayers. I thank God for you and for this beautiful ministry that HE has inspired.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am also, in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) In Galatians 6:2, St. Paul writes to his followers “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We are encouraged, in our Christianity, not to walk alone but to be in “communion” with other people. This communion is shown in a corporate context in the sacrament of Holy Communion, distributed during the Divine Liturgy. But communion is not only confined to a sacrament. Anytime there is unity, there is fellowship (Koinonia in Greek) or communion.
We Christians carry many burdens in our lives. The burdens are lightened when we offer them up to the Lord in prayer. They are made even lighter when many of us share the burdens through our prayers. And this is what the prayer team is all about. I will pray for you. I ask that you pray for me and for my parish. I ask that you pray for your parish and your parish priest. And I ask that you pray for all those who are reading these messages each day. You may not know many, or any, of them, but there are many people, who like you, take time each day to read a spiritual reflection, who are seeking to grow in your faith. So, let us pray for one another—we may not know names, but we know needs, because the needs are the same for everyone—health, joy, wisdom, patience, love, faith. These things may manifest themselves differently in each person’s life and circumstance. So let us pray for one another, let us bear one another’s burdens, and let us strive to fulfill the Law of Christ. At the center of what we are doing is “faith.” The first “level”, if you will, to faith, is prayer, opening a dialogue with Christ for your own needs and for those around you, as well as listening to the words of Lord found in scripture.
The reflections this week will be about prayer, taking this ministry back to where it started—the what’s, why’s and how’s of prayer. Prayer is how we cultivate and sustain a relationship with Christ. It is how we become one with Him. In prayer we shed ourselves of our earthly identity and we enter the Divine realm. We cease to be WHAT we are—we don’t approach God as a lawyer or a doctor or as a teacher. But we approach God as WHO we are—as His children, as Christians. We are all people on a journey, created by Him, and eventually standing before Him. The journey is called life. The successful journey is called salvation. And the greatest tool for success in that journey is prayer.
Today’s Prayer is for the Prayer Team:
Lord, thank You for all those who read these words every day. Bless every person who is reading this message today. Though we do not know each person on the Prayer Team, we share a common bond of love for our faith, desire to learn, and commitment to pray. Please keep our “team” strong in this coming year, and especially in this day of transition. May what is written and what is read bring us all closer to You. May it bring us closer to one another as well. Amen.
Thank you for being part of the Prayer Team! May the Lord bless this ministry in 2016!
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