I love Thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in Whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18:1-2

Our souls yearn for You in the night, O our God, for Your judgments are light. Lord, teach us Your righteousness, Your precepts and Your Commandments. Enlighten our mind’s eyes, lest we fall asleep in killing sin. Dispel all darkness from our hearts. Grant us the Sun of righteousness, and keep our life free of assault under the seal of Your Holy Spirit. Lead our steps on the path of peace. Grant us to greet the dawning and the day in joy, that we may offer up to You our morning prayers. For Yours is the dominion, and Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, 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)

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.

We’ve all had things come into our minds that dominate our thoughts. For instance, we get hungry, and start to crave a hamburger. We think how good that hamburger is going to taste, with the cheese, and the pickles and the juicy patty of beef, hot off the grill (sorry if I’m tempting you right now). As that thought swirls around in our minds, we start to think how we can make that thought a reality. We make a plan of when and where to go. And then we go and actualize that thought.

In Orthodoxy, there is a term called logismos (thought) or logismoi (thoughts). These are the thoughts that lead to sinful actions. The desire for a hamburger is a logismos though not necessarily a sinful one (unless all you ever eat is hamburgers). We all have logismoi when it comes to sinful things, where a thought comes into our minds, we ruminate on that thought, we think of how the thought can become a reality, we make a plan, we actualize that plan. This is how we sin. Logismoi to sinful action can happen in seconds. But nothing sinful happens without a thought going into it.

If we can have logismoi about sinful thoughts, as well as material thoughts—food, money, sports, social things, etc.—we can also have thoughts that point us towards God. Today’s prayer calls our attention to a yearning for God. And to this I pose a simple question—do you have a yearning for God? Do you think about God? Why or why not?

Ideally we have thoughts of God and goodness that evolve in ironically the same way that our sinful and material thoughts develop. We have a thought of God or of goodness. We let that thought turn over in our minds. We think about how our thought can become a reality, we make a plan and we execute the plan, and something good happens.

I’m reminded of this well-known saying:

Watch your thoughts, they become your words;

Watch your words, they become your actions;

Watch your actions, they become your habits;

Watch your habits, they become your character;

Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

We could adjust this to reflect a yearning for God:

If you are filled with Godly thoughts, you will be filled with Godly words.

If you are filled with Godly words, your day will be filled with Godly actions.

If you fill your days with Godly actions, your life will be filled with Godly habits.

If your life is filled with Godly habits, you will have a God-centered character.

If you have a God-centered character throughout your life, your destiny will be for everlasting life.

Sometimes it is hard for my brain to have room for Godly thoughts, because it is filled with anger, or frustration, or stress, or overall busy-ness. And I find that my yearning is to satiate anger with revenge, or to counter stress with relaxation, or to even find comfort in the busy-ness because then I don’t have to confront the fact that I don’t yearn for God as I wish I did.

Again, going to the saying above, to yearn for something starts with a thought, and then giving that thought space in your head, followed by a desire to act on that thought and then the action itself. If we want to yearn for God, we must give Him more space in our heads, we must think about Him. This starts with prayer. Scripture reading helps give us thoughts about God. So does worship. And even daydreaming does—looking at the sky, the clouds, imagining heaven, thinking about the greatness of God and the vastness of His majesty. It’s really wonderful that one of these twelve prayers purposely uses the word yearning. Because to yearn is to have more than a fleeting thought. It is to give a thought a space to grow, so that action follows.

Encouragement for today: Spend some time just thinking about God. Look at clouds or focus on the breeze, something that will get the vastness of God’s greatness into your mind. Think Godly thoughts about others, your decisions, your relationships, etc. And give time for these thoughts to grow in your mind so that you can translate them into actions.