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
O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! Psalm 71:12
Is there a day of the week where you are more likely to sin? Or least likely?
My answer for the day I’m most likely to sin is Wednesday. Why Wednesday?
Every Sunday, I celebrate the Divine Liturgy, and receive Holy Communion. Holy Communion does several things for me. One of those things is it puts my antennas up as far as sinning goes. I’m less likely to use foul language on a Sunday right after Liturgy because I’ve just received Holy Communion. Something in my conscience reminds me “be careful what you say today, you’ve just received Communion.” I’m less likely to use foul language on a Saturday night because I’m about to receive Communion the next day, and my conscience reminds me “be careful what you say today, you are going to receive Communion tomorrow.”
I’m more likely to use foul language on a Wednesday, because this is when I’m usually the farthest away from receiving Communion. Last Sunday is far in the rear view mirror and next Sunday is too far over the horizon. And my conscience plays with me and says “you don’t have to be so careful today.”
The week of the year where I sin the least is Holy Week. Because for this week of the year, I’m receiving Communion every day, and my conscience is on high alert at all times.
I don’t know if other people have the same experience when it comes to Holy Communion, conscience and foul language. But this is how it works for me. I can’t imagine what kind of games my conscience would play if I only received Communion once a month or a couple of times a year. For me, frequent Communion helps act as a filter on behavior.
Holy Communion is the biggest spiritual event of the week, but does not have to be the only spiritual event each week. Prayer should be a significant daily event in our lives. And it should, among other things, help act as a filter on our behavior. It would seem more difficult to go from being on our knees in prayer to yelling at a co-worker in the span of an hour. I would think that if one is praying, it would help us to act in a more Christian way towards others. Using the co-worker example, it will be harder to yell at the co-worker if they are included in your prayer each day.
When we don’t pray regularly, it puts God out of view. He’s either far in the rear view mirror or too far over the horizon. We forget about Him. And then we forget to act like Him. We forget to be loving, or to be kind or to be forgiving.
This doesn’t mean that because we pray we do not sin. Everyone sins, no matter how much they pray. But when we pray more often, and I don’t mean just checking a box and reciting some empty words, but when we pray often with a sincere and humble heart, it is going to slow down our sinful patterns.
It’s like the person who eats healthy and exercises, they are less likely to have a heart attack. That doesn’t mean they won’t get sick, because we all get sick. But the person who overeats and never moves is more likely to have a serious sickness.
The person who prays often still sins. But the sins will probably not be as serious. The person who never prays and never thinks about the Lord is more likely to succumb to temptation.
Often in counseling, I’ll ask someone who is having marriage problems, “Do you pray for your spouse? Do you pray about these problems?” And the answer is usually no. Or the answer is “I do now.” If spouses, as an example, are in the habit early on in marriage of praying for each other, there is less likely to be a gulf between them later.
Prayer can do a lot of things for us, including closing gulfs between us and other people, and closing the gap between sinful behavior and Godly behavior. So, pray often, to that God is front and center in your life, not in the rear view mirror or over the horizon. And when He is there in the lead in your daily life, you will sin less.
One week is too long to go without a connection with God. And sometimes God can disappear from view even in the middle of a day. That’s why we should pray often during the day, to keep God in our view at all times.
There is no reason to sin more on Wednesdays. Prayer helps keep the focus every day.
Lord, I come before You today, placing You at the front of my life for this moment. Be with me today. Be front and center today. Help me to look at You before decisions and conversations. Help me to stay focused on You. And in the moments when You seem far away, bring thoughts of You to my mind. Stay close to me. Help me to stay close to You. Amen.
Pray today! And keep God in the front of your life today and always!
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
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