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
The Encouragement Project
And after Jesus had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone. Matthew 14:23
Good morning Prayer Team!
If “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17) is from God, then we also know that the devil tries to spoil every good thing. We know that encouragement is a good thing and it takes a special person to be an encourager. And so the devil constantly tries to thwart the encourager, as he does with anyone that tries to do anything good.
It is critical then, for the encourager to maintain a good disposition of the heart. The heart needs to be continually conditioned so that it is always ready to encourage.
Part of what is needed to be a good encourager is to see yourself in a good light. Of course, it is important to be honest, we all have things we can improve upon. However, avoid things like negative self-talk and allowing negative thoughts to take root in your mind. These things thwart encouragement.
The best way to maintain readiness to encourage is to maintain a close relationship with God. Taking time alone each day to meditate on scriptures is essential. While faith is shared and celebrated and grown in the context of community, at the core of faith is a personal relationship with the Lord. And this is cultivated first and foremost through personal prayer and reading scripture.
I can’t tell you how many times I have found both answers to problems and comfort during stressful times in prayer and in scripture. The Bible contains so many passages, you are certain to find passages that will speak directly to you. And when you become familiar with the Bible, you will find “go to” passages that you will go to in the various life circumstances and challenges that come your way.
So, if you aren’t in the habit of praying, start off by doing something I call the “rule of 5”: Thank God for five things, pray to God on behalf of five people and ask God for five things that you need today. The needs for today are things like safety, wisdom, patience, efficiency, and stamina. The needs of a given day aren’t material things generally. Then pray at frequent, short intervals throughout the day—before meals, before driving, before beginning a task. These prayers can be one or two sentences. They need not be long.
As for reading the Bible, read one chapter or only a few verses. Read a book of the Bible or read a random page. Read the Bible though. If you’ve never read the Bible, start with the Gospels and read through them several times so that you understand the life and teachings of Christ. And then move to the Epistles and then to the Old Testament.
Being an encourager doesn’t require a lot of preparation. But being a consistent encourager requires some routine maintenance of your soul. So, keep your soul fed and you will be better at many things in life, including encouraging others.
Lord, thank you for (list five things you are thankful for). Lord, bless (five people that you wish to pray for). And Lord help me (list five things that you need God’s help for today). As I strive to encourage others, help me to find encouragement through prayer and scripture reading. Help my heart to stay filled with peace, so that I have peace to give to others. Help my heart to be filled with joy, so that I have joy to share with others. Help my soul to feel encouraged, so that I will be inspired to encourage others. Amen.
Pray and read scripture today!
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