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
Jesus said, “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who see in secret will reward you. Matthew 6: 5-6
Good morning Prayer Team!
It is really important to pray by yourself. Many times when I ask people, “do you pray,” they say, “of course I pray.” And then when I ask “when do you pray?” they answer, “well, at dinner, and at night with the kids.” And when I ask, “Do you ever pray by yourself,” often times the answer is no. Outside of a cursory blessing for food, and praying with the kids (which often consists of the child, or children saying “their prayers”), there isn’t as much praying alone as there should be. Indeed, it is a challenge to “go into your room, and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.
Prayer, simply put, is communication with God. Prayer is where we speak to God. When we speak to another person, especially when the conversation goes to a deep level, certainly more than a cursory “hello,” an “intimacy” develops where one is comfortable sharing private thoughts, be they joys or sorrows, triumphs or setbacks. And by sharing, one is then open to receiving advice, empathy, encouragement, compassion. Prayer, when done regularly and correctly, brings one into an intimate union with God. And the by-products of this union are peace, comfort, discernment, and joy. I know from speaking with my Spiritual Father, when I say “Things aren’t going well,” or “I’m stressed out,” he’ll ask me, “How’s your prayer life?” and inevitably I will answer, “Not going particularly strongly at this time.” There is certainly a correlation between how much I pray and how much peace I have.
Prayer is when we communicate our thoughts, whatever they may be, and we offer them to God. How much more powerful of a conversation can there be than when one speaks to God! It is certainly more powerful than speaking with a friend or even a spouse. God communicates His thoughts to us through scripture and worship. That’s why it is important that we combine prayer along with worship and scripture reading. It is not enough to go to church but never pray, just like it wouldn’t be very beneficial if you sat with a friend and always listened and never spoke.
As for why is prayer important, the answer is the same reason why conversation is important in an interpersonal relationship. BECAUSE IT MAKES THE RELATIONSHIP! Every kind of interpersonal relationship we have is based on communication. You can’t consider someone your friend if you NEVER speak to them. Certainly a good friend is someone we communicate with regularly, not just in times of crisis. So how can one have a relationship with God if he or she never speaks to God? Or speaks to Him only occasionally, or in times of crisis? Prayer is what creates and solidifies our relationship with God. His relationship with us is solidified when He creates us, and when He died on the cross for our salvation. Prayer is how we enter into the relationship with Him.
Almighty God, Your greatness and majesty are impossible to comprehend. I stand as nothing in the presence of Your magnificence. Yet, even though I am sinful and unworthy, You have given me the Gift of Your Son, my Savior Jesus Christ. Help me to begin to comprehend what is impossible to fully comprehend. Help me to understand and know the value of prayer. Help me to know that You hear our prayers. Help me to trust in Your majesty and your mercy. As I pray to You o Lord, please remember my family, my friends and all those who I know. And please remember me, O Lord, today, and walk with me in all that I have to do 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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