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
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
The Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ
I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name? Surely you know! Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Proverbs 30: 3-5
Good morning Prayer Team!
Every reflection for the Prayer Team begins with a verse of Scripture. Why? Because scripture is the basis for everything that we believe and do. Sadly, I, like many people, don’t spend enough time with the Scriptures. So, by including Scripture in the daily writings, at a minimum I have to go into Scripture at least once a day.
I utilize the “Bible Gateway” app in order to find appropriate verses. This is not a substitute for actually reading the Bible, but it is a helpful tool in finding verses of Scripture related to the topics I want to write about.
Today’s verses come from Proverbs, and as I read them, I thought to myself, even though this was written before the time of Christ, it certainly speaks to me as a follower of Christ. How can we comprehend the mysteries of God, or have knowledge of Him? It’s hard. We comprehend through study and through effort. We comprehend through the study of others—I hope reading these messages bolsters your understanding. Writing them has bolstered mine. And we comprehend through HIS GRACE poured out upon us, into our minds and into our hearts. This is why we do not just encourage people to read messages and listen to sermons, but to delve into Scriptures and let God speak directly to YOU.
The same idea that God can speak to you applies not only to scriptures but to worship as well. So, here is an idea for how to make Holy Week a stronger and more meaningful faith-building experience. Buy a journal and record your thoughts about each service. Come to each service a few minutes early, so that you can sit in silence before each service even begins. This way your brain and your heart are relaxed, ready to be filled with whatever the Lord will speak to you.
As the service unfolds, listen carefully to the words, and listen carefully to the words that speak to you. When something speaks to you, write it down. No one is going to say anything if you write yourself a quick note. You don’t need to write down many notes, even one note will suffice, one thing for you to take away from the experience of worship. If you attend many Holy Week services and write down a thought after each, this will start you off with many thoughts for your journal. And if you keep this going for a few weeks or months after Pascha, you’ll have a nice collection of God speaking directly to you. Imagine if you did this for a year, writing down things that God speaks to you in worship. You’d have the best “spiritual book” ever—messages that God has spoken to you during worship.
Please don’t think that I’m arrogant in saying this, but God speaks to me in prayer and in scripture. He doesn’t speak to me because I’m a priest, or because I’m holy (I’m certainly not holy), but because my ears and my heart are open to listening. I must admit, He doesn’t speak to me all the time, and THAT is because MY heart is sometimes closed and I’m not listening. But when I choose to listen, He speaks.
So, listen in church, and you will hear Him speaking directly to you. He doesn’t touch your heart just because you walk in the building. I have walked in many times for worship and not heard anything. These are the times when I am distracted and pre-occupied. When I walk in with a soft heart, focusing on “hearing,” I am never disappointed.
My prayer is to Thee, O Lord. At an acceptable time, o God, in the abundance of Thy steadfast love answer me. With Thy faithful help rescue me from sinking. Amen. (Psalm 69: 13-14)
Consider buying a journal and taking a few minutes to write what you hear after each service you attend next week!
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: Guideposts
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