As I write the blog for the next couple of weeks, I’d like to explore the topic of prayer. I’ve never really mastered the spiritual discipline of praising and petitioning the Almighty in prayer. Have you? With the disciples, our pressing prayer should be, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).
In this quest for a deeper, more meaningful prayer-life, let’s examine some Biblical role-models and their intercessions. The Bible records many eloquent prayers. Some are long. Others are short. The patriarchs and prophets prayed in the Old Testament and Jesus and the disciples prayed in the New Testament. There’s something to be gleaned from each of these records.
Today, let’s take Peter’s prayer as a case study. Specifically, consider the prayer that he uttered as he began to sink into the stormy sea. Let’s see...
Immediately after Jesus fed the hungry multitude with the little boy’s lunch, the disciples were instructed to board the boat and cross Galilee toward Capernaum (John 6:17). By the way, Jesus didn’t sail with the disciples. Rather, the Lord went up on the mountain to pray (John 6:15).
Out on the Sea, the winds rose, and the waves dashed the wooden boat. John reports that the disciples had rowed “three or four miles” (John 6:19). Mark says that it was early in the morning, sometime between three and six (Mark 6:48). The disciples, alone in the boat, strained at the oars. Jesus was absent, but Jesus was observant. He knew where they were, and He knew their struggles. He still does.
The Gospels don’t report that the disciples were frightened by the storm. Peter, Andrew, James and John, knew these waters, and had experienced these storms many times. What scared the tunics off these guys, was the inexplicable appearance. “ ‘It’s a ghost!’ they said, and they cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26). It wasn’t a ghost. It was Jesus, on the waves, in the storm, present in their hour of need.
Here’s where it gets fun. Peter pops off with, “Lord, if it’s you ... command me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:27, CSB).
Yep. It was Jesus, standing upon the surface of the water. He commanded, “Come!” (Matthew 14:29).
James and John don’t move a muscle. Andrew was a statue. But Peter stood up and swung a leg over the side of the boat. Breaking the rules of physics, Peter stood on the water. The Sea of Galilee is a hundred-forty feet deep, and Peter stood above it. Whoa!!
He didn’t look back. He looked at Jesus, and step by step Peter moved closer to his Master. Until... “he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and began to sink.” Peter took his eyes off Jesus. And, just before the glub... gurgle... bubble... Peter prayed, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30, CSB).
That’s a prayer? Yes. Peter is speaking to his “Lord” ... the second person of the Triune God. When we speak to God, it’s called prayer. Peter prayed, rather urgently, as he sought the Lifeguard’s assistance.
What does this teach us? First, Jesus was there. He’s always there. He’s ready and willing to hear us when we call. Second, He’s able. Nobody was able to help Peter except Jesus, ready with a firm grip to pull Peter out of the depths. Lastly, prayer doesn’t required a certain format or a specified structure. Prayer is calling out to God.
Try it out today. If you haven’t prayed in a while, or if you’re just trying to get better at praying, this is a good place to start. “Lord, help me!”
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor