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!
Years ago, I met a wonderful and pious man. He had cancer and his prognosis was not good. We quickly became friends and when I look back at the sum total of my life, he will make the list of the top ten most decent people I ever hope to meet. He wasn’t very old. He was putting up a valiant fight. He also had a tremendous faith.
One day I went to visit him in the hospital and he asked me to pray with him. I was a much younger priest at the time, and I wasn’t actually sure what to say in prayer, so I went to some prescribed generic prayer because I didn’t really know what else to do. (and there is nothing wrong with praying a written prayer or Psalm, nothing at all, but as I looked for something to say from my heart, I just didn’t know what to say.) I called my Spiritual Father and discussed it with him. I wasn’t sure what to pray for. I didn’t want to pray for long life for the man, since his prognosis was rather grim. It didn’t seem right to pray for him to die either.
My Spiritual Father gave me a lesson on prayer that I will never forget. He talked about the Lord’s Prayer. He told me, “Pray the Lord’s Prayer for this man every day, and when you get to the phrase ‘give us this day our daily bread,’ ask God to give to him the things he needs to get through that particular day.” His daily bread might be being able to keep his food down without nausea, or for him to laugh. One day, the prayer was for him to be able to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. I remember that day specifically praying “Lord, we don’t need miracles, we just need a good day TODAY. And tomorrow we’ll come back and worry about the needs of tomorrow.”
It was really a profound moment in my ministry. Give us this day our daily bread, in practical application, has nothing to do with bread, but rather is about asking God to give us what we need in order to get through today. It’s not about asking God to give us excess, but to give us what is needed. This is why we pray the Lord’s Prayer so often, even several times throughout the day, because sometimes we can’t even look at an entire day. We have to look at the day in small parts-give me what I need for this meeting, or this conversation, or this decision, or what I’m going to write for the Prayer Team.
So, continue to pray the Lord’s Prayer, and as you get to this phrase, pause and ask God for the things you need TODAY. My needs for today are never material-they are generally things like stamina, wisdom, patience and safety. These are the same things I pray for when I pray for my spouse, my child, and my family. This is why the Lord’s Prayer is the consummate prayer, because in one phrase we are praying about the Kingdom of heaven, and in the next phrase, we are asking the Lord to take care of our needs today.
The man I mentioned earlier eventually passed away. The need of his last day was a peaceful, Christian end to his life. And God answered that prayer as well. Memory eternal, my dear friend!
Lord, thank You for the gift of this day. Help me to negotiate this day in a way that brings honor to You and shows loving concern for my neighbor. Help me to focus on the needs of this day. Help me to meet the needs of this day. Give me the tools I need to be successful today. Amen.
Have a great 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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