Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Moses said to the Lord, “See, Thou sayest to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me. Yet Thou hast said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found favor in Thy sight, show me now Thy ways, that I may know Thee and find favor in Thy sight. Consider too that this nation is Thy people.” And He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to Him, “If Thy presence will not go with me, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in Thy sight, I and Thy people? Is it not in Thy going with us, so that we are distinct, I and Thy people, from all other people that are upon the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do; for you have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory.” And He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you My name ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” He said, “you cannot see My face; for man shall not see Me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while My glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with My hand until I have passed by; then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:12-23
By God’s grace, today marks five years of the Prayer Team. It started on February 20, 2015, with a commitment to write about prayer for Great Lent. Never did I think this endeavor would have thousands of followers or lead to four books. Thank you to all those who are part of the Prayer Team. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Thank you, most especially, for your prayers.
One of the most comforting stories in the Bible is the story of Moses beholding God’s glory. As we know, Moses was leading the children is Israel out of Egypt to the “promised land.” They didn’t know how long the journey was going to take, and in the end, it took forty years. They were plagued along the way with various challenges—hunger, thirst, the elements, serpents, disease. For Moses, it seemed like the journey would never end. The people got frustrated. He got frustrated. He had doubts. He probably even wondered if God still loved him, if he had fallen out of favor with God. He even wondered aloud to God if he had found favor in God’s sight.
God assured Moses that indeed Moses still had the favor of God. And Moses, exacerbated, said to God “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory.” And God acquiesced to this request. He told Moses that he could not look upon the face of God but that He would put Moses into a cleft in a rock, and let him see God’s back, but not His face.
This experience did not change Moses’ situation. He was still leading the people of Israel through the desert. He was still battling the elements and the strong will of the people. He wasn’t transported from the desert to paradise in an instant. However, this experience changed Moses. He was never the same again. We are told in Exodus 34:29 “that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.” The people were not able to look at Moses because his face was so bright. He beheld God’s glory and it changed him. It didn’t change his situation. It changed him.
We’ve all felt like Moses at times—exacerbated, frustrated, wondering when our problem (or problems) will ever end. We’ve all had doubts. We’ve probably all wondered at some point whether we have fallen out of favor with God. The truth is that God loves each of us. He never abandons us. Sometimes the journey to the “promised land” (heaven) is a lot like the journey of the Israelites. It is fraught with challenges. It is long. It seems like it will never end.
One thing I do when I feel like Moses did, when faced with stress, uncertainty, or am just tired and wrung out, is to ask God, “show me Your glory.” I ask God, over and over again, to let His glory shine in my life, or in a situation, or on that given day, or even in a given moment. I ask Him to show me glory, even in the midst of being sick, or before a difficult conversation.
This “glory” is not fame or fortune. It is not glory in the way we or I might define glory. It is “glory” in the way God defines it, in whatever way He reveals it. When Moses asked God to show him His glory, he wasn’t specific about what he expected that to look like. He just asked God to show him glory. And God decided to show Moses what He looked like from the back. And that was enough to change Moses.
Meditating on God’s glory, (however He wants to reveal it) and His majesty, helps me pass through difficult moments. It is a form of encouragement that comes from God and seems to come whenever I ask for it. The key thing is that it requires immense concentration. I work to block out the bad thoughts, to focus on the concept of His glory. And then the time, or the test, passes. When I take my mind off of the glory and put it back on the worry, the worry comes right back. So, when you are anxious, think about God’s glory, ask for Him to show you His glory in some way, large or small, and continue to focus on this.
Lord, thank You for the gift of this day. Show me Your glory in some way large or small today. Let Your glory cover over me, especially when I’m feeling challenged and overwhelmed. Give me confidence in the midst of doubt. Give me calm in the midst of anxiety. Give me peace in the midst of stress. Give me focus in the midst of confusion. And give me joy in the mist of any sadness. Help me focus on Your glory when I feel overwhelmed. And as Your glory changed Moses, please allow me to be continually changed as well. Amen.
Think about God’s glory throughout the day today!
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
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The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.