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
Peter answered Jesus, “Lord, if it is You, bid me come to You on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14: 28-31
Good morning Prayer Team!
Most of us can’t imagine walking on smooth water, let alone walking on water in a stormy ocean. And yet, in the middle of a storm, Jesus told Peter to come out to Him on the stormy sea and walk on the water. Peter got out of the boat and WALKED ON WATER! An amazing feat in itself. As long as he focused on Jesus, he was able to do what seemed impossible, to walk on water. But when he saw the wind and the waves, in the moment he took his eye off of Jesus, this is when he began to sink. And now the order of his faith, his discipline, his focus on Jesus was off. He screamed in fear, “Lord, save me!” Then Jesus reached out His hand and caught Peter, restoring order, saving him from drowning in the storm.
Prayer is perhaps the greatest tool to keep us focused on Christ. Because it requires little preparation, no travel, can be done at ANY time for any amount of time. The focus of life is to keep our eyes on the prize, our Lord. We are supposed to journey to Him, ever closer with each passing day. Around us, there are storms. Sometimes, the way is smooth, but most of the time it isn’t. If we just focus on the Lord, it doesn’t matter how stormy the sea is, because it is as if we pass over it unharmed, we “walk on water”, so to speak, as if it were smooth stone. Prayer helps us keep focus. When Peter was trusting Jesus, he was keeping his focus. When he took his eyes of the Lord, this is when the scene became chaotic, and fear replaced confidence. What we must strive to do, principally through prayer, is to put our focus on Christ, to “come to Him,” each day. When we are faithful about praying, the storms of life will have a hard time overwhelming us. When we lose our focus and stop praying, this is when life tends to overwhelm us, not because we have lost favor with God, or because we have not “given Him His due.” Rather, life overwhelms us because we have taken our eyes off of Him, not because He took His eyes off of us. Whenever I feel like I’m sinking, there is almost always a correlation with me not praying. Praying in itself does not stop the storms of life from raging around us. Praying helps us to keep our focus despite the storm. Praying helps us keep our eyes on Christ, no matter what is going on around us. I’m reminded of the words from Psalm 121, which says that our help comes from the Lord. When you are in trouble, don’t focus on the waves that are threatening you. And don’t lift your eyes only to friends and family. Don’t forget to lift your eyes to the Lord. Because when the storm of life seems to be overwhelming you, it is keeping focus on the Lord that will keep you from sinking. Today’s prayer is Psalm 121:
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved, He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper, the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Amen. Psalm 121
Keep your eyes on the prize today!
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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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