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
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”
Exodus 16: 4-5
In the Old Testament book of Exodus, we read of how God delivered the Israelites from the hand of Pharaoh by parting the Red Sea and allowing them to walk across dry land, and then covering up Pharaoh and his horsemen as they gave chase. This story is recounted in Exodus 14. In Exodus 15, we read of a song of praise to God for His deliverance from the hands of Pharaoh.
By the end of chapter 15, however, the mood of the people of Israel has changed from grateful to frustrated, as they cannot find water to drink. The only water they find tastes bitter. The Lord came through for the Israelites, leading Moses to a stick of wood which he threw into the water and the water tasted good again.
By the next chapter, the people of Israel are downright angry. Now forty-five days post escape from Egypt, they have no food to eat. They complain that they would rather have just stayed in Egypt. Talk about no gratitude and short memories! The people of Israel had lived their entire lives as slaves of the Egyptians and in forty-five days they had forgotten their oppression, and their deliverance from it, blaming the Lord entirely for their “misfortune.” Many times someone does something good for us and in short order, we forget what they did, always wanting more and better.
So the Lord told Moses that He would rain bread, called “Manna” from heaven and each day the people could go out and take what they found on the ground. However, there were two provisions. First, no one could take more than their share, not more than what they could eat. And second, no one could store the manna up for future use. It would be provided every day, and on Friday, the day before the Sabbath, twice as much would fall, and only on Friday, could people store up extra manna for the Sabbath. This way on the Sabbath they could rest and not go out to gather food.
Some people “cheated” and didn’t do what the Lord asked of them. They either took more than their share and became sick, or they took extra to store up and it became foul so that they could not eat it. The lesson here was that the people needed to trust the Lord. They needed to come out every day and trust that the Lord would provide for them. They needed not to be selfish and store up food, nor could they take from others—they had to trust that the Lord would provide and they had to do that on a daily basis.
Even more important, they had to trust that the Lord would provide for them. They had to trust that He didn’t bring them out of Egypt only to die in the desert, that He had a plan for them. Many times in our lives, we are like the Israelites. We feel like we are in a desert and we are not sure when we will make it to the “promised land.” And it becomes hard to trust in the Lord to take care of our daily needs. It becomes even harder to feel grateful when we think we are not getting what we think we are owed.
The phrase “give us this day our daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer, comes from the concept of the daily manna. It means literally “to give us this day what we need for our sustenance,” the same way that God was providing manna in the wilderness to His people. This phrase also reminds us to trust in God for our daily necessities. And it reminds us that trust and gratitude go hand in hand. The more grateful we are, the more we trust that God has a plan for our lives and will provide for us on a daily basis. The more we trust in God, the more grateful we will be. For today’s prayer, I have put “The Lord’s Prayer”, which I hope you’ll pray with conviction, thinking about gratitude and trust as you ask God to provide for your daily needs.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Remember to be grateful and to trust God!