God loves to answer the prayer “Show me your glory.” When your soul hungers, when your tank feels empty, when you’re running on fumes, when you open your Bible in the morning and ask for God’s help, a great go-to request is this simple, honest, humble plea: “Father, show me your glory.”
God made the world to show and share his glory. He made us in his image to reflect him in the world. But we will not fully reflect him if we haven’t yet stood in awe of him and enjoyed his beauty in our hearts. And our hearts cannot look on him in awe if we haven’t yet seen him with the eyes of our souls. Changed lives (and a changed world) begin with seeing glory. “Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
“God, show me your glory.” History hangs on him answering that request. And one great evidence of his work in a human soul is feeling, and then expressing, that longing.
It’s not only a wise request to make for ourselves, but also for others. The apostle Paul prayed for Christians that “the eyes of your hearts [would be] enlightened” so they might know “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and . . . the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18–19). Instead of starting with your wife’s convenience, what if you prayed, “Show her your glory”? Along with your neighbor’s health, “God, show him your glory.” Even before your children’s safety, “Father, show them your glory.”
But don’t miss the opportunity to begin with yourself and pray often for God to show you his majesty. When we make this sacred and powerful request today, we do well to consider the two biblical figures who asked the question most memorably.
First is Moses. Before leading God’s people up to the Promised Land, Moses wants to know more about God. Will he handle his stiff-necked, unworthy people with grace, or is it just a matter of time before he breaks forth in righteous anger against his people’s sin? Who is God most deeply? So, Moses asks, “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). God responds,
“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.” (Exodus 33:19)
God will show his glory to Moses by putting his goodness on display. Something stronger than wrath, and higher than mere power, drives the heart of God with his chosen people. Most deeply, he is a God of grace and mercy.
The next morning God hides Moses in a cleft of the rock on the top of the mountain and draws near.
The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:5–7)
Moses has his glimpse into the heart of God. He bows in worship. He asks God to draw near to his people, pardon their iniquity, and make them his own (Exodus 34:8–9).
God meets Moses’s audacious request with favor, but some fifteen centuries later, one of the Twelve receives a different answer to a very similar plea.
Philip said to [Jesus], “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” (John 14:8–10)
Why does God honor Moses’s plea, while Jesus meets Philip’s with mild rebuke? Because now the glory of God is standing fully embodied in Philip’s presence, looking him in the eyes as he makes his misguided request. Does he not yet realize he already has seen more than Moses as he looks on the face of God himself and asks to see the Father?
Jesus’s gracious rebuke comes not because Philip had a sinful longing. It was good that he wanted to see the Father. It was admirable that, like Moses, he asked to see the glory. But the kind correction he needed, standing in the very presence of God himself in the person of his Son, was that his search to see the very glory of God had come to an end when he came to Jesus.
God had said to Moses, “You cannot see my face” (Exodus 33:20). But now Philip was seeing God. He was looking on the glory. As John 1:14–18 reveals, what glory God hid from Moses, he now shows us in the person of his Son.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:14, 16–18)
Jesus has made the Father known. Period. The person of Christ so truly and fully reveals God that the Gospel writer can say — with no need to nuance, condition, or qualify — “he has made him known.”
Jesus is “the [visible] image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Do you want to see God? Do you long to look upon his face? Where will we see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God”? Answer: “in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Which means, the lowliest Christian already has seen more of God’s glory than Moses saw on the mountaintop.
Soon we will see Jesus with our physical eyes. “When he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). But for now, we look on his beauty with the eyes of our hearts. One day God will remake this world, and in that new heavens and new earth, there will be “no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (Revelation 21:22). And get this: “the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23). Lamp, singular. Jesus, the Lamb, is the singular lamp from which streams the glory of God that gives light to the world to come.
Jesus is not one lamp among many. He is the singular source of the light of the glory that illumines the world to come.
God loves to answer the prayer “Show me your glory,” and he doesn’t leave us in the dark as to where we should turn our soul’s gaze to have our prayer answered. Once we pray this audacious, wise, and necessary plea, we’re not left clueless as to where to focus next.
When we ask God today to see his glory, he may answer our requests in countless ways. He may show us some attribute of his character we’ve missed or minimized. He may open our eyes to his smile behind a frowning providence. He may meet some temporal need in a way that warms our soul and fills us with gratitude. He may give a relational breakthrough that was so long-standing that reconciliation seemed humanly impossible.
But the fullest response to our plea “Show me your glory” is to turn the eyes of our soul to Jesus. “In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). And our knowing the fullness of his answer doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask. On the contrary, it inspires us to ask all the more.