For godly grief procudes a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.
2 Corinthians 7:10
God and Master, holy and beyond comprehending, You commanded light to shine out of darkness. You gave us rest in the night’s sleep, then raised us up to glorify and to beseech Your goodness, for You are entreated by Your own compassion. Accept us now as we worship You and, as best as we are able, thank You. And grant us all we ask that avails for salvation. Declare us children of light and of the day. In the multitude of Your mercies, Lord, remember all Your people, present here praying with us, and all our brother, whether on land or at sea, in every part of Your dominion, as they invoke Your love. Grant to all Your great mercy, so that always safeguarded, in body and soul, we may in all confidence praise Your exalted and blessed Name, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
(Adapted from the Translation by Narthex Press of the 12 Orthros Prayers)
Good morning Prayer Team!
There are twelve prayers that a priest offers during the Orthros (Matins) service which are never heard aloud. Each has a theme that sets the tone for the day. I don’t think there is anything wrong with me sharing these prayers or for anyone to pray them. I enjoy sharing thoughts about faith and about Christ each day, as well as giving you occasional insights into the priesthood. I hope the reflections on these prayers will give all of us something to think and add to our spiritual journeys. I’m changing the format of the Prayer Team for these reflections—both the scripture verse and the prayer will precede the reflection for this unit.
If you could ask God for anything in your life, what would be it? Your first thought might be health, or riches, or to get married, or to have children, or for that dream job you’ve always wanted. It might even be for someone else, like health for a parent, or help for a friend. If God really asked me this question, I would hope my answer would be “whatever leads me to salvation.” Because we know that all the things we have in life are transient. Only salvation in the Kingdom of God can be forever.
Prayer number four of these twelve beautiful prayers asks that God grant to us all that we ask that leads to salvation. It also asks God for confidence to praise Him. And like the other prayers that reinforce love for one another, it asks God to grand these things to everyone present, and to all our brethren, on land or sea, in every part of God’s dominion.
Taking this now a different way, on the subject of asking questions, I have written before about asking yourself questions when weighing out a decision. Here are some of those questions: Is it smart? Is it safe? It is in line with God’s commandments? It is in line with my character? Does it get me closer to my goals?
Take decisions that people make every day: Should I drive after drinking? Should I cheat at work and spend time on social media? Should I spread gossip? Should I engage in some risky behavior?
Imagine if you carried in your pocket the five questions asked above—is it smart, is it safe, etc. And each time you made a decision, you whipped out your card of questions, and answered each situation according to those questions. Would your behavior change?
Today’s prayer gives another the most important question to ask ourselves when making a decision—does this avail for my salvation? Is what I am about to do going to lead me towards salvation or away from it?
Several western theologians, including St. Augustine, taught that if you are not actively working on your salvation, then you are working against it. The problem with this kind of theology is what about the activities that are restful and promote leisure. Are these intrinsically bad? Is it harmful to our salvation to watch a sports game or take a nap? The answer is no. It is critical that we rest. However, watching football all day every day or getting drunk while watching the game lead away from salvation, because this is gluttony and sloth. Rest is good for our souls, so long as it doesn’t push the boundaries of sloth and gluttony.
One worthy goal every day is to seek to do something that leads you closer to salvation, a decision to actively help someone, or to actively spread the Gospel—these two things, that we can each control—will lead us closer to our salvation. And a great thing to pray for is asking God to grant us all that we ask that can lead to salvation, not for specific blessings, but for opportunities to grow towards Him.
Encouragement for today: Ask God to provide opportunities to grow towards Him today. In making your decisions, not only ask yourself “Is it smart? Is it safe? Is it in line with God’s commandments? Is it in line with your character? And does it get you closer to your goals?” Ask yourself, “does this decision lead me closer to salvation?” and then act accordingly.