Entries with tag trust .

Prayer of Saint Philaret

The Orthodox Church places prayer at the core of the Orthodox Christian life. The Church offers us the Book of Psalms, the “Our Father” that Christ taught us, various liturgies, devotional prayer services to various saints, and private prayers written by the saints. All of these prayers guide us closer to Christ by giving us words to say when we can’t quite seem to find them. Over time, these prayers shape the words we use in times of need and inspire the conversation we have with God at all times.

 

In recent years, a prayer written by Saint Philaret the Metropolitan of Moscow (1782 – 1867) has come into popular use as a prayer for the beginning of the day. Here is the prayer in whole:

 

O Lord, grant me to meet the coming day in peace. Help me in all thing to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day, reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealing with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray You Yourself in me. Amen.

 

Prayed daily, this prayer helps us reorient our attention from the world’s distractions and passions and towards a focus and trust in God. Saint Philaret calls us to look at our inner world, to align our will with God’s, and to be attentive to how we interact with those around us.

 

1. Serenity and our inner world

 

The first thing this prayer is concerned with is our inner world. We ask in this prayer that God grant us the peace we need for this day. We ask Him for help in treating everything with peace of soul, instead of with anxiety and stress. How often do we wake up anxious, beginning the day already feeling behind schedule and worried? If only we could discover this peace on our own (the right meditation practice or the right quiet place in nature); if only we could fix ourselves! But instead of our peace, we need the peace of God which is beyond all understanding (Philippians 4:7), a peace not like what the world can offer, a peace that casts out our fear and calms our troubled hearts (John 14:27).

 

As God calms our anxieties, He also gives us strength when we are not strong enough to stand. In this prayer, we ask God for the strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day. We don’t ask God to strengthen us tomorrow, we just ask for His help today “with all that it shall bring”. This implies we are also willing to trust that God will be with us in whatever situation we might encounter today. We are not alone.

 

We also ask God to guide our thoughts and our feelings. We are so often pulled this way and that by our emotions and thought life, but Saint Philaret reminds us to ask God to be our guide in everything. We even ask God to give us the words to pray. And as this prayer helps us to rely on God, it also calls our attention to His will.

 

2. God’s will and our will

 

So much of the Christian life is trying to bring our will into alignment with God’s will. Theologians and poets, rich and poor alike, all struggle with accepting God’s will at certain times, especially in times of suffering and difficulties. As Orthodox Christians, we neither believe in a God who can be manipulated by man (if we only pray correctly) nor a God who holds us like puppets on strings (where we have no control over our choices). Instead, we seek to know what God’s will is each day and then strive to live in accordance with that will.

 

Saint Philaret gives us the words to ask God to reveal His will to us and that we will then rely on His will in everything. But in moments of weakness and in moments of distress, we might lose that conviction that God is still with us at all times. So we ask God for the assurance that His will governs all things.

 

Finally, we give up trying to be in control by asking God to direct us and to help us bring our will to match His. We stop trying to run our own show and make a decision to let God be our shepherd and our guide. We give up control over what we cannot control and trust that God will take care of the outcome. As we let go, it opens us up not only to a better relationship with God, but also with our neighbor.

 

3. Our dealings with others

 

Just as we need to be aware of our inner life, and to meditate on the will of God, we also need to be cognizant of how we relate to and treat others. The prayer next asks that God will bless all of our interactions with our neighbor. In the stillness of our morning prayers, we ask God to help us not to forget that everyone in our lives can help us grow closer to God – even the most frustrating person – but how they do so depends on us. This is why we ask God to remind us that all are sent by Him. It changes our perspective from seeing others as pests to agents of God’s will in our lives.

 

It’s easy to be sure of our own “rightness”. We see that all too much today. What’s harder is to let go of being right and to live humbly in relation to others. At times we might need to be firm, but we always need God’s discernment in learning how to speak as God would have us speak. So we ask God that we “act firmly and wisely” but with the important caveat that our relations with others be “without embittering and embarrassing” them. Saint Philaret leads us then to approach our dealings with others with humility instead of with pride.

 

*****

 

When we are anxious and stressed out, when we are pursuing our own will instead of God’s, when we are pitting ourselves against others, we will not have the eyes to see and the ears to hear how God is working in our lives today. The prayer of Saint Philaret, like all of the prayers of our Church, helps us to slow down and to bring attention to this present moment. For it is here and now that we can encounter the living God. Today, we can know the peace of God, we can pursue the will of God, and we can see God at work in our lives through our neighbor.

 

Have you ever incorporated the prayer of Saint Philaret in your morning prayers? How might praying this short prayer help you to see that Christ is present with you, even in the stress of today?

 

 

Want more from Y2AM? Subscribe to our email list and get weekly tips for your spiritual life every Monday! And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a monthly Patreon supporter. As little as $1 a month can help us continue the work we’re doing.

 

Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages and good coffee.

Photo Credit: depositphotos

______________

Dancing Anxiously at Life's Circumference

 

The last couple weeks have been incredibly stressful to me for a number of reasons, but the most pressing one for me right now is the fact that on Friday, I am slated to take the National Marriage and Family Therapy Licensing Exam.

And I’m feeling dreadfully unprepared for it.

I’ve been spending hours on hours studying, taking (and failing) practice quizzes and exams. What’s more, it has been a two-and-a-half year journey to this point since I moved to Arizona as the requirements for licensure are different in Arizona than they were in California.

I’ve had to jump through all kinds of hoops, gain a lot more hours of clinical practice, take a few different classes, compile a ton of paperwork, and pay thousands of dollars more to get to this point.

Needless to say: there is a lot riding on this test.

There is so much wrapped into this for me that I actually can’t really think about or do much else with my time. I feel anxious. I feel dumb when I fail the practice tests.

I just feel overwhelmed by the possibility of not passing this exam.

Sadly, this test is at the center of my life right now.

Or rather, I’m dancing around on the circumference of my life, and neglecting to dwell in the True Center: Christ.

So much of what I’m putting meaning into right now is leading up to a four-hour window in which I will either leave being able to practice Marriage and Family Therapy or I will leave having to retake the exam and try again. Very little effort has gone into seeking the Lord, trusting that I am His beloved child regardless of whether I pass this exam.

In reality, this test is minor. It is at the edges of my life, part of what I do, not constitutive of who I am.

Who I am is Christ’s. I belong to Christ. It is this identity that is at the center of my life, but I spend very little time dwelling in that center, trusting that the Lord has got a hold of me.

So I bounce around on the circumference of life, worrying about a test, or how loud the kids are, or how much work I have to do still, or how tired I am, blah blah blah. Being so distracted from the center of my life, it’s no wonder that my overall feeling is one of anxiety! I’m constantly trying to control things that come and go, that change with circumstances!

“Jesus Christ,” the Scriptures tell us, “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). I find this particularly comforting because rarely are yesterday, today, and forever all the same. They are constantly changing, and each day holds its own set of battles and surprises. But amidst the chaos, amidst the storm, Jesus Christ remains steadfast.

My identity, my value, my life does not rest in whether or not I pass my MFT exam. I would like to, of course, but this isn’t where my life comes from. Rather, in the words of St. Paul, “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

Christ alone is my life. Christ alone is the center, and it is that reality that allows me to navigate the storms on the circumference of my life. But it would also be nice if He helps me remember everything I’ve studied.

Photo Credits: Depositphotos

Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, podcaster, and CrossFitter. Christian has his first MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.

______________

 

The Benefits of Time Travel

When I first heard about the app “Timehop,” I had really mixed feelings.

 

If you haven’t heard of it, it does what it sounds like: hops through time. It pools together a conglomerate of your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), and each year it will tell you what you’ve posted on these platforms on this day in years past. And if you haven’t heard of Timehop, I’m sure you’ve come into contact with the Facebook feature that does the same thing.

 

At first, I hated the idea of Timehop simply because I didn’t want to have everything that I’ve put up to be accessible in one place.

 

On one hand, I mean, it’s just embarrassing! Sometimes, it feels like I’m looking back on someone else’s life. Someone way different from me.

 

The message is clear: you can’t escape past you. But I’ve chosen to change my perspective on Timehop.

 

Because on the other hand, as embarrassing as it can be to see that I 0nc3 wr0t3 lyk dys, it can also be heartwarming and eye-opening. Like when it reminds me of a great friendship, a family trip, something that made me laugh.

 

It also can remind me of how far I’ve come. Often, when we’re in happy times, we forget the bad times that led us there. But Timehop takes us right back, whether we want to go there or not.

 

For example, take my current job. I will often refer to this job as my “dream job” and I’m not kidding (and I’m not just writing this because my boss is reading it). But it didn’t just appear out of thin air. And I never want to forget how blessed I am to be here.

 

Because Timehop has been reminding me lately that this time last year I was all over the place. I was posting pictures of the beautiful campus on which I worked, trying to make myself love where I was. Secret: I did not love where I was. I was praying a lot that things would get better and actively searching for new opportunities, but I felt kind of abandoned by God. I mean, I had just graduated, spent a few months unemployed, and when I finally found part-time employment, I hated it. It felt like a horrible joke. I felt like my life was at a standstill, and I had no idea where I was headed.

 

But by the grace of God, a few people mentioned this job listing, and I figured “there’s probably something to this. Let me apply.” Here I am, a little less than a year later, having made it out of that rut.

 

The things that I see on Timehop, as unwanted as they can sometimes be, stand to remind me that life can change through faith, trust, and prayer. This doesn’t always ensure that things will get better, that things will change immensely, but even the little things count sometimes.

 

It’s hard to see these types of things from day to day, but I bet that if you looked back on where you’ve been and compared that to where you are now, you would see major changes.

 

Challenge yourself to find something to be grateful for. Even a change from who you were, how you thought, or where your faith laid a few years ago is important. And if you don’t believe you have a lot to be grateful for, download Timehop.

 

______________

Want more from Y2AM?  Subscribe to our email list and get weekly tips for your spiritual life every Monday!  And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a monthly Patreon supporter.  As little as $1 a month can help us continue the work we’re doing.

______________

Maria is the Administrative Coordinator of Y2AM. She is a New York native who isn't completely sold on the city's charm, yet has never left. A proud graduate of Fordham University and occasional runner, she is happiest whenever chocolate, a sale, or a good Gilmore Girls reference is involved.

______________

Three Steps For Success in Making a Difficult Decision

Young people are faced with many difficult decisions about our future. First, we need to decide where to go to college, what to major in, and then what to pursue as a career. And, as young adults progress through our 20s, we need to choose whether to go to graduate school, and which jobs we should apply to.

All of these decisions can feel overwhelming. What if I make the wrong choice? What if I give up a great opportunity?

And this overwhelming sense of potential failure can keep us inactive. We want to be happy, make our family happy, and follow God’s will. Fear of not making the best choice can be paralyzing.

So what are we to do? How can we maneuver this difficult process of decision making?

The Old Testament book of 2 Maccabees (which we just read in the Bible in a Year reading program) is a great place to look first. It is a story of struggle and redemption, and of God’s continual involvement in the lives of His people as they navigate difficult situations.

If we’re challenged with making a difficult decision, the book of 2 Maccabees can remind us to follow these three steps: prayer, action, and committing the results to God.

1. Prayer

In reading 2 Maccabees, I was impressed by how deeply the people prayed to God. Whenever they were faced with something, or they didn’t know what to do next, they would immediately turn to prayer. Their prayer demonstrated real reliance on God, trusting in Him to save them and to guide them.

What did their prayer look like? “They fell prostrate before the foot of the altar and implored Him to be merciful to them” (2 Maccabees 10:26) and “they all made the same petition together and constantly implored the merciful Lord with weeping, fasting, and prostrations for three days” (2 Maccabees 13:12).

They turned to God, together, in repentance and humility.

Sometimes, I have found that my prayer is more selfish than humble. Instead of praying for God’s will, I might pray for what I hope will be the outcome. In these moments, I can pray the Lord’s Prayer intentionally, focusing on the words “Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven.”  Similarly, praying the Jesus Prayer reminds us to direct our focus on Jesus and His will, instead of on our anxieties and desires. In prayer, we learn that we aren’t in control of all the details of how our lives will work out. Prayer is our way of letting go of our attempt at controlling and micromanaging our lives and inviting God into that space instead.

But prayer isn’t the whole story. Our first step is to pray, turning to God to guide us and to make clear His will. After we learn to turn to God for help with our decisions, we still have to make those decisions.

And a big part of that involves action.

2. Action

This action step isn’t a mindless or impulsive movement. We must act, but we must do so carefully. It involves consulting with others (2 Maccabees 13:13) about what action will be best. Reaching out to those more experienced than us can remind us that we are not making this decision separated from God or others. And this helps us break out of our fear, since we can be confident in not being alone.

Fear is what keeps us from ever making a decision in the first place. We worry that we won’t be smart enough to get into that school, experienced enough to get that job, or prepared enough to move to that unknown place. And in some ways, we’re right. Alone, without God’s presence, we wouldn’t be. But, with His help, and by His strength, we can and we will be able to face whatever life throws us.

And sometimes what we have to face is that we won’t always get what we want. God’s will isn’t always what we might wish for. But when we trust in God – that He will be with us and guide us even when we make the wrong choice – fear won’t keep us from taking that step. Acting, leaving the safety and certainty of our current situation, is a statement of trust in God's guiding hand. 

And so we take a step. We apply to that school, we apply to that job, we make that move. Fear will always be a temptation, but that’s all it is: a temptation. Inaction is much scarier than making a decision, and is what happens when we allow ourselves to be trapped in endless hypotheticals and “what ifs” rather than simply living in the present and doing the best we can. Action is the shortest of the three steps, because it just requires us to make a decision and to take an action. And this tiny step is crucial because we’ll never get anywhere if we don’t cooperate with God and do our part.

We will continue to seek guidance from God through prayer, but after making a choice and taking an action, we have to trust in God to see to the results.

3. Commit the results to God

We read in 2 Maccabees that the people of God made their decisions with “the Lord as their place of refuge” (2 Maccabees 10:28). They first turned to God in prayer, then they consulted with others and took action. This third step is all about how we approach life once we have made that choice and acted upon it.

The temptation of fear might come back. Did I make the right decision? Is this really God’s will? Will I like this school, will this job work out, will I make friends in this new place? But if the Lord is my refuge, I will need to trust that He will guide and keep me in the midst of any challenges that will come my way.

It’s up to me to lift my foot to take a step, but I must learn to trust that God will guide my foot to firm ground.

After determining to take action, the people of God in 2 Maccabees “let the matter be decided by the help of God” and by “committing the results to the Creator of all” (2 Maccabees 13: 13-14). This can be the hardest part in making a decision: trusting that God will take care of the result, according to His will. But it’s also the most freeing part because we remember that God is with us and that all of our steps are established by the Lord (Psalm 37:23).

*****

When faced with a difficult choice, we need to first turn to God in prayer and let Him know all of our worries. After we have let go of all of our anxieties and have asked God for guidance, we simply have to take a step forward and make a decision. Once we take an action, we learn to let go by trusting that God will take care of what happens next.

Do you struggle with making tough decisions? How can you involve God in these choices? And if you struggle with fear, how can you better trust that He will take care of the result?

 

Sam is the Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Wyckoff, New Jersey. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages and good coffee.

Photo Credit:

Making Decisions

Prostration 

Leap of faith 

Trust 

______________

Learning to Walk on Water

We all know the feeling. We’re doing great spiritually, we’ve got our focus on Jesus and then boom – we fall down. We go from cloud nine to sinking in the waters of self-criticism, overcome by the feeling that we’re not good enough.

It’s all too easy to fluctuate between spiritual highs and lows, between the feeling that we’ve got it together and the feeling that we will never get out of our bad habits.  When I’m feeling this way, I find encouragement by remembering that the saints wrestled with this, too.  Even the Apostles, Jesus’ closest friends, struggled with keeping their focus on Him. Saint Peter had an especially close relationship with Jesus, but even he denied the Lord. Three times!  

Rather than focus on that, I’d like to reflect on another event in the life of Saint Peter: when he walked on water.

Most of us remember that Jesus walked on water (He’s God, after all!) but do we remember that Saint Peter did, too?

Matthew 14:22-33 tells us that, while the disciples were sailing one night, their boat was being rocked by the wind and the waves. Suddenly, they see Jesus walking towards them on the water and they’re afraid. Saint Peter says, “If it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28). He gets out of the boat and walks on the water to Jesus, but is distracted by the wind, so he gets scared and starts to sink. He calls out, “Lord, save me!” so Jesus pulls him up and says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” The story ends as Jesus and Saint Peter get back into the boat and the wind stops.

This story challenges us to do three things:

1. Keep our eyes on Jesus

Saint Peter walked on water when he kept his focus on Christ.  He only sinks when he begins to worry about the wind and the waves. If we pay more attention to the struggles we have with sin, or the stresses that we have in our lives, than we do to Christ Himself, we’re going to get tripped up.

We’re going to sink.

Saint Porphyrios (check out the book on his life and teachings, “Wounded by Love”) taught that instead of fighting against our passions directly, we should run towards Christ. He said that if we devote ourselves to loving Christ more and more by attending services, reading Scripture, and living the life of the Church, gradually the temptations will lose their strength over us. We can’t empty a room of its darkness by fighting the darkness; instead, we need to let in some light. In the same way, we can’t empty our hearts of darkness by fighting it head on; instead, we need to turn to Christ.

There’s even an episode of “Be the Bee” on Saint Porphyrios’s advice.

Saint Peter sank because he tried to battle the waves and the wind instead of keeping his eyes on Jesus.  Similarly, if we take our eyes off of Him to battle sin (or stress, anxiety, or whatever else is going on in our lives) alone, we will lose: each and every time.

And once we have our eyes on Christ, the next step is to trust in Him. 

2. Let go of control

Another reason Saint Peter began to sink was that he tried to control his situation. When he realized he couldn’t, he began to panic. On a daily basis, it’s easy to get stressed and anxious about everything we have to do. But this anxiety often results from our desire to do everything ourselves.

We, like Saint Peter, need to cultivate a faith in Jesus instead of a faith in ourselves.

Jesus told Saint Peter that he sank because of his little faith. Instead of having faith in Jesus, he tried to rely on his own strength. He forgot that, though it is impossible for a person to walk on water, Christ reminds us that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Having faith in Jesus means trusting Him to guide and support me. If I am anxious and stressed out, or if I am feeling that I just don’t know how I’ll get everything done, it’s often because I am relying on my own strength. Yet, living out my faith in Jesus means letting go of control and asking Him to be the strength I need.

I have to let go of my need to be right and of having my way, and instead learn to accept God’s will in my life, for today. Only then can I ask for the help I need.

3. Call out for help

Once Saint Peter turned his eyes away from Jesus, tried to control his situation, and began to sink, he realized he needed Christ to save him. He went from doing the impossible one moment, to sinking in wave-tossed waters the next. But, then he stopped trying to handle the situation on his own and said, “Lord, save me!”

As easy as that, he was back in the boat and the wind and waves were gone.

Saint Peter’s words marked his decision to rely on Christ. Self-reliance only gets us so far. Realizing that only Jesus can get us out of the waves and calm the wind means learning to ask for help. In the moment of our temptation to sin, or in the moment of our overwhelming worry or stress, we can stop and ask God for help.

 

Whether we’re battling a habitual sin or bad habit, dealing with stress and anxiety, or trying to handle a difficult work or family situation, finding a solution might feel impossible. It can seem like only a fantasy to imagine that there could be an end to whatever we are encountering right now.

Our situation might feel as impossible as walking on water.

But with Jesus, we have a solution. Today, we can decide to focus on Him, to stop trying to be in control and to call out to Him for help. Jesus is personally calling each of us, like Saint Peter, to follow Him in the midst of our difficulties.

Will we balk at the challenge and sink? Or will we, like Saint Peter, learn to walk on water?

— 5 Items per Page
Showing 1 - 5 of 9 results.
Maria Pappas
Posts: 23
Stars: 0
Date: 3/24/17
Sam Williams
Posts: 54
Stars: 0
Date: 3/22/17
Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou
Posts: 22
Stars: 10
Date: 3/3/17
Rev. Dr. Tony Vrame
Posts: 21
Stars: 1
Date: 2/23/17
Christian Gonzalez
Posts: 73
Stars: 8
Date: 2/7/17
Andrew Calivas
Posts: 2
Stars: 0
Date: 2/1/17
Anthony Constantine Balouris
Posts: 7
Stars: 0
Date: 1/27/17
Andrew Romanov
Posts: 7
Stars: 0
Date: 1/25/17
Constantine Sirigos
Posts: 9
Stars: 0
Date: 12/3/16
Rev. Dr. Nicolas Kazarian
Posts: 1
Stars: 0
Date: 12/2/16