Grace: To know Jesus more intimately, to love Him more devotedly, and to follow him more whole-heartedly.
Text for Prayer: Mt. 14:22-33
Reflection: The passage from Matthew’s Gospel that will be the subject of today’s prayer describes an unlikely encounter of the apostles (and particularly Peter) with Jesus during a journey at sea. Asked to go ahead of Him while He goes up to a mountaintop to pray, they are not aware of Jesus’s presence with them and are startled by His appearance upon the waters.
Not sure of what to make of what he seems to be seeing, Peter tests the vision in order to determine whether it is Jesus or only a ghost. He asks the Lord to bid him to come out to Him, walking on the water, and Jesus says, “Come.” At first, all is well and Peter is able to walk toward Jesus. But he then falls into fear of the waves and the wind. While he first is filled with amazement at his own walking on water, Peter realizes after a few steps that he is no longer relying upon himself, and this terrifies him.
Peter knows boats and the sea, and rough weather is certainly not new to him. However, no longer making use merely of his knowledge from his former life as a fisherman—who was able to read the sky and the world around him for signs of what sort of weather is coming or where he ought to fish—Peter now walks quite literally by faith. If he left his former life behind by leaving his boat and nets when Jesus first called him, he is now leaving his boat in an even more radical way, departing even from the sure footing of dry land. And like all believers, his first few steps in faith are followed by doubts, by the sinking feeling that perhaps he made a mistake and should turn back, that perhaps this whole endeavor of trusting only in Jesus was foolhardy and misguided.
And so he sinks. Weighed down by his doubts, growing distracted from keeping his eyes and heart fixed upon the Lord for Whom all things are possible, Peter trusts once again in his better judgment, in his own ability to know what’s best. As he sinks, he calls out for help, saying, “Lord, save me!” And Jesus does, asking him why he did not believe more fully.
This tendency to trust in ourselves, to fear storms and bad weather, to look away from Jesus at the very moment when we are most in need of his help, to second-guess ourselves and scheme towards taking an easier or more sensible route: all of this takes us away from the Lord; it causes us to doubt the fact that the Lord always saves us from whatever it is that we fear. When the Lord bids us come to Him, we need only to keep our eyes fixed upon Him and walk with the faith that He gives us.
Questions: What might be a source of fear or anxiety for me in my life right now? Have I ever had an experience of the Lord asking me to do extraordinary things, things that I fear I cannot do? How might either of these two things be an indication of my need to grow in faith, to trust ever more fully in the Lord who saves me?