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
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and his ears toward their cry.
Good morning, Prayer Team!
Last weekend, I mentioned that on many Saturdays and Sundays, I’ll write reflections on the Liturgy. I’m doing this for two reasons: First, because the liturgy is one long prayer, an explanation of the pieces of the liturgy will help us to “pray” the liturgy more effectively. And second, the prayers of the liturgy have daily application to our lives, whether a liturgy is held or not, whether you are Orthodox or not. Reading these on Saturdays and Sundays will hopefully help us better prepare to worship on Sundays.
In peace let us pray to the Lord.
Having heard the announcement that the Kingdom of God is present at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, we now begin our corporate worship by entering into prayer together. And the first prayer of the liturgy (and most other services) is a prayer for peace. Let us gather in peace to pray to the Lord. After all, how can one pray effectively if one is not at peace—with God, with others, with himself/herself?
One really important ingredient in praying, whether in a corporate worship setting or alone, is to be in peace. Yes, it is possible to pray while driving, or jogging, or moving, but we should also have times when we are physically at peace, and still, so that we can communicate with God. What does it say to God if we can only pray while driving or moving—it says that prayer can only be part of multi-tasking. Again, there are times when this is unavoidable. But we must schedule some time where prayer is the only “task” we are engaging in. Learning to sit in peace (even with distractions, even with a list of tasks waiting for you) is a challenge for sure.
Peace is so important and integral to prayer and worship that in the Divine Liturgy, the word “peace” appears over 20 times. It is also in this, the first prayer, and in the last prayer of the Liturgy, so that we begin and end whatever we are doing in peace. That should be the goal of every task we do—from beginning the day, to beginning the work day, to begin and end in peace.
Finally, with the exception of the Creed and the Communion prayers, the liturgy is an act of corporate worship. It is not “me” praying, but “us.” And so as we pray for peace for ourselves as individuals, we also pray that those around us will have peace as well.
Lord, help me when I pray to be in peace. Allow my heart to open and all distractions and cares to fall away. Give me clarity of mind and soul so that I may praise You, and offer up my thoughts to You in my prayers. Bring peace also to the tasks I will do today. And give peace not only to me, but to all those whom I will encounter today. Amen.
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