On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 21: The Stewardship of Prayer and Fasting

“If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:14 RSV)

Stewardship means that we owe somebody something. The very word "steward" from ancient times until now, means first that there is something for which a steward is responsible. Secondly, that person, that steward, must someday give an account to the one who made him a steward for the things over which he was responsible. A steward of goods, properties or money, must care for them, protect them, invest them, keeping a careful record. Then account for that which was entrusted to him.

But money, property and goods are not the only things that have been entrusted to God’s people. He has entrusted to us opportunities, skills and talents of various kinds. Over these He has also made us stewards. For the use and investment of these we are also responsible. And, as well, for the proper use of the opportunities, skills and talents we are given, we are one day to give an account.

For example, the ability to pray is one such skill. And it is a powerful skill at that. Remember Jesus words? "Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:13,14). Giving an account of our stewardship of prayer thus must cover not only what we actually did cause through prayer, but it must also include an accounting for what we might have accomplished as well.

During this Nativity season we are practicing the God- given skill of fasting. It is our belief that God has bestowed upon us the ability, the opportunity, the privilege and the duty of fasting. This is an obligation for which we are responsible, and for which some day we must give an account.

What is our stewardship of fasting? Do we not owe it to God to fast? Will He not require an account of this, too, at the Judgment? Not only will the Lord inquire about the times we did fast, but will He not also ask about the times that we could have done so if we had really cared?

Is it not possible that we shall find when we reach the great day of the Judgment, that there are souls lost, even loved ones who might have been saved if we had done our reasonable best and released God upon the home, the church, the nation and the age by prayer and fasting?  God has a way for His people to do His work effectively and mightily. It is the way of sacrifice. It is the way of prayer and fasting. It is the way of stewardship.

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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