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
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together! Psalm 34:1-3
One morning a group of school students complained loudly about having to be in school. They complained about their tests. They complained about their homework. They complained about their loss of freedom. They complained that they had to go to school and they would much rather have been at the beach. I said to them that they should thank God that they were in school. And they looked back at me with expressions that said “Are you kidding me?”
I pointed out to them that at the Children’s Hospital, there were lots of kids who would love to be in school, who would love to take tests that didn’t involve needles, who would rather wear any clothes besides a hospital gown, who would be glad to be able to walk outside, who would love to eat a meal and keep it down and who would like to not worry about whether they will be alive in a year. Sometimes our thoughts are a matter of our perspective.
One of the things I have tried to discipline myself to do is to have my first words each morning be words of thanksgiving. I confess that in younger years, my first thoughts were usually negative, like “that darn alarm, already!” Over the years, I have disciplined my mind so that the first thoughts every day are thankful ones. Before my feet hit the floor next to my bed, I say five words of thanks—
Thank You God that I am alive to see another day.
Thank You God for my wife who is next to me.
Thank You God for our son who is down the hall.
Thank You God for the roof over my head and that there is food in the house to eat.
Thank You God that I have a place to go today.
There are many people who die in their sleep. Every day, I thank God that He has shown me the light of another day.
There are many people who are lonely. Every day, I thank God for my wife, and later on, I thank Him for other friends.
There are many people who do not have children or are not happy parents. Thanking God for our son shows the Lord that I am grateful for His gift to us and I am more motivated to be happy in my parenting because I bring the Lord into my relationship with our son before I interact with him each day.
There are many people in the world who have no home or who have no food. I am thankful to God that I am not one of them.
There are also people who have nowhere to go, they don’t have jobs, or they can’t find jobs, or they are unsure of who they are and who they want to be. I thank God every day that I have a job, which provides the means to have a home. And I recognize that my house, my job and the financial benefit of the job that pays for the house, these are all gifts from God.
Now, I have bad days, just like everyone else. But no matter what is on my plate on a given day, no matter what circumstance I find myself in, I begin each day with words of thanks.
Thank You Lord for (name as many things or people as you can for which you are thankful). Amen.
Make thankful words to God the first words you say each day!
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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