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 Constantly. I Thessalonians 5:17
I work constantly. I write constantly.
Are these true statements? I guess that depends on how one defines “constantly.” In one sense, I do not do either of these constantly, as I spend time each day not working and not writing. When I’m sleeping or having dinner with my family or watching sports, or reading a magazine I am not doing either. In another sense though, I do engage in these things constantly in that I work throughout the day and rarely a day goes by that I’m not writing.
One could look at the verse “pray constantly” in several ways. One can see this verse as unattainable and dismiss it entirely. After all, who, other than someone living in a monastery, can “pray constantly?” Most of us have jobs and families to tend to, houses to keep up, and most of us need down time where we do nothing more than relax. Unfortunately, this is the way that many people read this verse and they just dismiss it, along with other verses of the Bible, almost entirely.
To pray constantly is to utter the words of prayer frequently, throughout the day. Hopefully you begin the day with prayer. One does not need to pray for a long time in order to benefit from prayer, but spending a few minutes in prayer is important because it sets the tone of the day. There are other opportunities to pray during the day—before and after meals, before driving somewhere and when you arrive at your destination, before you begin a task, before a meeting, before a conversation, and at the end of the day. These prayers can be short:
Lord, keep me safe in my journey to work. Amen.
Lord, bless me in the task I am about to begin, help me to be efficient and glorify You in my work. Amen.
Lord be with me as I go into this meeting. Amen.
The Roman Catholics have a prayer called the Rosary, that is said repeatedly and is very short, so one can easily remember and repeat it. The Orthodox Christian Church has a prayer called the Jesus Prayer. It is even shorter than the Rosary, but works in much the same manner. It is a repetitive prayer that can be done over and over again, in time to your breath, at any time in any place. The prayer is: Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. This prayer is sometimes combined with a metanoia, or a prostration, which means that one bends at the waist and bows to touch the floor. While is it not necessary to do prostrations when praying, I realize that on a given day, I do at least a dozen “prostrations” without even trying—tying my shoes, picking up my bag, plugging and unplugging my phone and when I drop things. And each time I do, I offer the Jesus Prayer. After years of doing this, I offer it almost unconsciously every time I bend at the waist for any reason.
Short prayers throughout the day add up to a good amount of daily prayer. Prayers throughout the day keep us checked in with God almost constantly. They remind us His love constantly. They remind us to glorify and serve Him constantly. They remind us to love Him and love our neighbor constantly. So, build a “habit” of prayer each morning and build in a habit of short prayers throughout the day.
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
Lord be with me today.
Lord bless my interactions with people.
Give me wisdom in my decisions.
Help me be efficient with my time.
Allow me to glorify You in all the things I do today. Amen.
See how many short prayers you can offer today.
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. www.prayerteam365.com
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