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, 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!
One summer at camp, one of the priests gave a sermon about “being present.” He said that if you are walking from your cabin to the soccer field, about a ten minute walk, that if you focus only on the destination, you’ll miss out on the opportunities between your cabin and the soccer field. There may be an opportunity to greet someone. Or to look at the beautiful lake. Or to feel the breeze. And if one is SO focused on the destination, they will miss these possibilities.
Making some concluding comments about “Give us this day our daily bread,” permit me to offer the same advice. If you slow down life and look at it on a day by day basis, and even slow it down more, to an event by event basis, you will truly get the most out of life.
Most people struggle with “being present.” Minds wander in church, as an example, because instead of being present for the service, people are thinking about their post-service plans. Minds wander in conversations, while watching kids play sports, while watching a movie, at all kinds of times. We’ve all checked our cell phone while at dinner or texted someone while talking to someone else. Most guys have the phone around for the sports scores. It’s really annoying that for so much of our life, we are not present. It really is a discipline to be present. And no one can be present all the time-that’s why we have entertainment, so that our minds can rest from focus and just be entertained, to be as present and focused as we want without the pressure to be so. But when we are not at leisure, when we are at work, we should be focused.
Someone once said to me that the only moment I am guaranteed is the moment I am in right now. Because, while I may have plans for tonight, there is no guarantee those plans will materialize-I could die on the way home. The only thing we are guaranteed is the moment we are in right now. So we have to make the most of that moment whether it is a conversation, a prayer, reading a book, doing your job, making a decision. And we can only make the most of something if we are fully invested in it. So, invest yourself fully in each moment of the day. Even your leisure moments, invest yourself in those.
We’ve probably all had the experience of taking a computer on the couch while trying to watch TV. When we do that we don’t get any work done, or get any rest. And time passes and we have really wasted the time, because we didn’t get either goal accomplished. So when at work, work. And when at leisure, relax. When with family, enjoy. When in church, pray. Be present and you’ll get a lot more out of life.
One last comment the present-in our world of cell phones and cameras everywhere, sometimes we are so concerned with documenting things for the future that we miss them in the present. If I video the Christmas program my son is in, as an example, then I’m going to be watching the program through the lens of my phone instead of through my own eyes. Sometimes (not always, but sometimes) it is sufficient to watch something with our eyes, truly experience it, and save it in our minds.
Lord, thank You for the gift of today. Help me to be present in all the things I will do today-to be in every conversation and every opportunity. Make Your presence known in me today. Thank You for hearing my prayer and allowing me to be in Your presence as I offer this prayer. Amen.
Be present 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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