To lag in the fight at the very outset of the struggle and thereby to furnish a token of our coming slaughter is a very hateful and dangerous thing. A firm beginning will certainly be useful for us when we later grow slack. A soul that is strong at first, but then relaxes, is spurred on by the memory of its former zeal. And in this way new wings are often obtained. (Step 1:11)

There are several ways that this particular step could be read, each edifying in its various situation. St. John is originally writing this to monastics – he is encouraging them to make a good beginning to their monastic life, a beginning that will continue to support them as they struggle in the monastery. Today in the Orthodox Church, this step would be read on the very first day of Great Lent – encouraging all of us to make a good beginning to the Fast – to begin the Fast in the proper spirit (love and repentance), doing our best to follow the Fast and to align our lives with Christ and to prepare for the Feast of Holy Pascha. This step is also a step that we should begin with every single day – starting each day with a firm beginning, to strengthen us for the coming temptations and struggles of the day. The Fathers tell us to begin each day in prayer, offering God our repentance and praying for His Grace to guide us through the day. When we begin each day with God, asking His blessing for our day and placing ourselves intentionally under His protection, we receive that firm beginning that helps us in our walk for the remainder of the day.

A wonderful prayer to begin the day – Prayer of the Optina Elders

O Lord, grant that I may greet the coming day in peace. Help me to rely upon Thy holy will at every moment. In every hour of the day, reveal Thy will to me. Bless my association with all who surround me. Teach me to treat whatever may happen this day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Thy 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 Thee. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering or embarrassing others. Give me the strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will. Teach me to pray. Pray Thyself in me. Amen.

Scripture verse for thought today – “He giveth power to the faint; and to them who have no might He increaseth strength.” (Isaiah 40:29)