Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11

O God, our God, You have made all spiritual and rational Powers subject to Y our will. It is to You we pray and You we implore: accept the best praise we are able to offer, along with that of all Your creatures, and reward us with the bountiful gifts of Your goodness. For to You every knee bows, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth (Philippians 2:10), and every creature that breathes praises Your incomprehensible glory; You alone are the true God and all-merciful. For all the Powers of Heaven praise You, and offer glory to You, to the Father and to the Son and to 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)

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.

In John 10:10, Jesus tells His disciples, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Jesus does not want us to just have sufficiency, but abundance. That does not mean that in prayer, we are supposed to “name it and claim it,” like “Lord, please let me win the lottery.” That is not the purpose of prayer, nor does God answer prayers like that. Rather, in this beautiful eleventh prayer, we ask God to “reward us with the bountiful gifts of Your (His) goodness.”

What are the bountiful gifts of God’s goodness? The Fruit of the Spirit are some of the gifts of God’s goodness—Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) Other gifts include forgiveness, hope, reassurance, comfort and ultimately, salvation. Thus, when we are praying for the bountiful gifts of God’s goodness, we are asking Him to reward us with these things.

In any relationship, it is impolite to ask for something, without offering something in return. That doesn’t mean that everything between people has to be a transaction, a gift in return for a favor. There are times where we give getting nothing in return, or times when we receive and don’t have to offer anything. Birthday celebrations are an example of this. However, in most healthy relationships, there is a give and take on things. Same thing applies to our relationship with Christ. Because before we ask that He reward us with the bountiful gifts of His goodness, earlier in the same sentence, we are asking (and offering) that He accept the best praise we are able to offer. In other words, we will praise God in the best way we can, and then ask Him for reward us with the bountiful gifts of His goodness.

We started this reflection with Jesus sharing His desire for us to live an abundant life. We should, therefore, offer an abundance of praise, an abundance of worship, an abundance of charity, and in return we will receive an abundance of the bountiful gifts of His goodness. It would seem disingenuous to offer a pittance of praise, a pittance of worship, a pittance of charity, a pittance of forgiveness to others, and yet expect an abundance of anything from God. Of course, in our fallen state, we cannot match the abundance of God’s anything. Anything that we offer to Him will be matched by greater abundance given back to us. Therefore, let us be generous with praise, worship, charity, generosity, forgiveness, kindness, mercy and all the other things we are able to offer to God and to others, and then we will be ready to receive the bountiful and abundant gifts from God to us.

The final comment on this beautiful prayer is the abundance of adoration that all creation gives to God. We may receive adulation from others—from family, friends, peers—but God receives praise from everything in heaven, on earth and under the earth. This phrase of the prayer makes me think of the icon of the Nativity, where everything bowed its head to the Creator now part of the creation—the lowly shepherds, the powerful magi, the animals, the earth (the cave), and even the stars.

Encouragement for today: Be generous today with your prayers, with your praise of God, with your service to others, with forgiveness and mercy, even if you are not feeling an abundance of God’s mercy today. Because His reward is not necessarily instantaneous. It comes over a lifetime, and leads to an eternal lifetime. If we hope for His abundance, we must offer an abundance to Him and to others.