Help, Lord; for there is no longer any that is godly; for the faithful have vanished from among the sons of men. Every one utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boats, those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is our master?” “Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure, silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. Do Thou, O Lord, protect us, guard us ever from this generation. On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the sons of men. Psalm 12
Thank you for your prayers for Alena, and her parents Sophia and Carlos and for her sister Kyra. Alena came through the surgery yesterday successfully. She is still in critical condition and needs our prayers, so please keep them coming. I will give you periodic updates as I have them.
Evil?! I thought you were writing about comfort from the coronavirus! I am.
We all remember the cartoon images of a man who has to make a decision and on one shoulder appears a white angel, telling him to do the right thing. And on the shoulder sits a red devil who tries to convince him to do the wrong thing. This cartoon image is actually pretty close to the Orthodox concept of spiritual warfare. There is a war going on for our souls. God and His angels battle against the devil and his destruction. This brings to mind the well-known story of “The Fight of the Two Wolves Within You.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
So it is in our lives, that there is a battle for good and evil within each of us. The one who wins is the one we feed. Back to the crisis at hand, there is certainly a battle for good that is being won amidst this crisis. When people are patient, benevolent, helpful, compliant with social distancing, prayerful and many other positive things, then good is winning and God’s message moves forward. In this crisis though, there is still a battle against evil, as the devil rears his ugly head to tempt us to be impatient, selfish, and non-compliant. Who among us hasn’t been one of these things, or at least been tempted? We all have. Yes, there is a physical battle against this virus, to isolate it, to stop its spread and to cure it. But there is also a corresponding spiritual battle, to hold true to the things of God even in the midst of crisis.
The Psalm references that “everyone utters lies to his neighbor.” (Psalm 12:2) And that is true. We all at times tell untruths, half-truths and exaggerated truths. Verse 4 asks the foundational question of “Who is our master?” The angel that battles for our soul? The devil that battles for our mind? Does the tongue lead with words of praise or condemnation, with truth or with falsehood?
Thus, when we read “Do Thou, O Lord, protect us, guard us ever from this generation,” (Psalm 12: 7) and “on every side the wicked prowl,” (12:8) we are not only talking about a person or people, but situations, and our own selves. And this situation isn’t unique to this year, this season or this covid-19 problem, it’s a situation we face in all seasons. And the temptation to use the tongue, the mind or the heart for good or evil is a battle we will fight every day of our lives. Thus, we should pray the Psalms and pray to avoid evil at all times. Because most evil is not unique to covid-19, but to all challenges that come up in life. And good should not be limited to times of challenges, but to all times in life.
Feeding our souls with prayer and Scripture and worship (even virtual worship) helps us immensely in the spiritual war that we will fight in all seasons of our lives. Psalm 12 (and other Psalms) are great ways to fight against evil thoughts, situations and influences, asking the Lord to protect us and to feed His voice within us.
Prayer of Protection from the Coronavirus
(Prayer by Grace Bishop Alexis (Trader) of Bethesda)
O God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in Your ineffable goodness, look down upon Your people gathered in Your name. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. You know our weakness. You hear our cry in repentance and contrition of heart. O Lord who loves mankind deliver us from the impending threat of the corona virus. Send Your Angel to watch over us and protect us. Grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Guide the hands of physicians, and preserve those who are healthy that we may continue to serve You in peace and glorify Your most honorable and majestic Name, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Feed your soul with prayer and Scripture every day, and with worship as often as possible.
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.
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.