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
Make me to know Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation; for Thee I wait all the day long. Be mindful of Thy mercy, O Lord, and of Thy steadfast love, for they have been from old. Remember not the sins of my youth, or my transgressions; according to Thy steadfast love remember me, for Thy goodness’ sake, O Lord! Psalm 25:4-7
In the battle for God and for good, over evil, we all have made and will make mistakes. Many of our dumbest mistakes come in our youth. This is because in our youth, we don’t understand the concept of consequences, and we haven’t fully developed our brains, our talents, or our sense of identity. On the way to figuring out who we are, we are bound to make mistakes.
One reason why the military wants to recruit 18-year-olds is because they don’t necessarily understand the consequences of armed conflict. Tell an 18-year-old to march up a hill under threat of hostile fire, his sense of machismo will take over and he will eagerly go. Tell the same thing to a 40-year-old and he will not go, for fear of getting killed.
It’s the same reason why people do really stupid things in college that they would not repeat in middle age. They’ve learned the concept of consequences.
Psalm 25 is a prayer for guidance and deliverance. Among other things, it asks God to not remember the sins of our youth, or the transgressions of our adulthood. Because the guilt and shame associated with these things can be overbearing on our minds, our hearts and in our conscience and these burdens can keep us from the joy of the Lord. Therefore, we continually ask the Lord to lessen these burdens through His goodness, so that we are not encumbered by their weight and can walk more freely in His light.
Rather than be bogged down with past or present failures, Psalm 25 asks God to “Make me to know Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths.” (25:4) Not only do we ask God to rid us of the bad, but to steer us towards the good. This includes praying for guidance to make good and Godly choices. It also includes asking God to help us see others more than ourselves, and to desire to serve others more than to serve ourselves.
Psalm 25 is a prayer to God to “Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation.” (25:5) Reread this verse and put an emphasis on the word “Thy.” Because there are many sources that claim to be truth. Journalists and news stations boast of having the most truthful news. Politicians claim to be the source of truth, even when there are two parties who see the exact same thing in two different ways. Both can’t possibly be true. Marketers will tell you truth lies in certain kinds of merchandise. So many conflicting statements lead us to the existential question posed to Jesus by Pontius Pilate, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) The truth is found in God. He alone is the source of truth. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me.” Psalm 25 asks God to lead us to His truth, in His way, to the life He desires for us, which is righteousness on earth, and eternal life in heaven.
“The God of my salvation” (25:5) makes me think of God as an architect. The architect is the designer. The builder executes the design. We are the builders of our own lives. God doesn’t take that control and choice away from us. Hence, He allows us to commit the sins of youth and adulthood. But God has given us a unique design for our lives. Each of us has different talents and opportunities. God is the architect. We are the builders who can follow the plan or make our own. When we follow His plan, we build toward everlasting life. When we don’t, what we build will ultimately fail. Recognizing God as the “God of my salvation,” is acknowledging Him as the architect of our lives.
“For Thee I wait all day long,” is a reminder to be mindful of God at all times. Whether we are consciously praying, or even unconsciously doing what is righteous in His eyes, there is a daily sense of living for and in God. There is an intentionality and purposefulness in our actions. If we acknowledge God as we begin each day, that sets our day in motion to “wait” for Him and work for Him all day long.
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.
Ask the Lord to make known His ways for you today, as well as the path for your life. Allow Him to lead. Make time to learn. Acknowledge God as your architect. And follow His plan as you build ever higher and closer to Him.
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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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.