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
LET US GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD
I give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. Psalm 9:1
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
A friend loves at all times, and a bother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17
Good morning Prayer Team!
For today’s reflection I share with you two of my favorite Bible quotes regarding friendship, both from the Old Testament book of Proverbs. The first quote refers to the mutuality in friendships. Good friends make each other better, they bring out the best in each other. Good friends serve each other, they encourage each other, they look out for each other. A one-sided relationship is not a friendship. A relationship where only one is putting in, or only is taking something positive away is also not a friendship. Working relationships may work like this—a secretary serves the boss but the boss does not serve the secretary—but friendships cannot work like this.
It is important and necessary to have friendships. Why? Because family for most is not enough. We all have a need for voices of encouragement in our lives and we all have the need for support and help. These voices and this help needs to be present, in front of us. And these voices and help need to be almost constant. If someone is from a small family or lives far away from family, there is going to be a void for encouragement and support, of “boots on the ground” that can be filled by friends. (In no way do friends supersede family or make family unnecessary, family is the most basic of relationship units because we have family from our birth. We make friends, we are born into family.) In some instances, friends are more objective than family. Where family might always see us as right or always stick up for us, friends can challenge us, keep us accountable, even call us out when we need to be called out. In a committed friendship, accountability is welcomed. Iron sharpens iron. Friends make each other better. Good friends not only make honesty a habit, but create an environment where it is safe to be honest.
The second quote reminds us that “a friend loves at all times.” Thankfully, with the invention of cell phones and email, we can keep in touch with friends (and family) at any time. Friends help friends even from long distances. Friends pray for friends, even when they are not together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked friends to pray for me, on a certain day or at a certain time when I’m facing a challenge. And friends have asked me to do the same. I may not be standing next to them, I may be across town or across the country, but we can be together, in thought and in prayer.
Do you ever thank you friends for being friends? Ever say to a friend “our friendship means a lot to me”? It is important to express thanks in all circumstances—to thank God, to thank our families, and also to thank our friends, for the blessings they are in our lives.
Here are two challenges. The first is for today. Send a quick text to five friends that says something short and simple, like “I just wanted to send you a quick text to thank you for being a wonderful friend.” The second challenge is to write a letter to a friend for Christmas, thanking them for the gift of friendship.
Lord, thank You for the many blessings You have bestowed on my life. Thank You for the gift of friendship. Lord, bless my friendships with (list names of your friends). Allow us to grow closer together. Give us moments of joy and laughter. Help us to be there to support one another in times of sadness or difficulty. Help us to always be patient with one another, and let forgiveness come easily in times of disagreement. Thank You Lord for the gift of my friends. Amen.
Send a quick text to five friends today!
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