Sermon on the Gospel reading from Matthew 14:22-34
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
Continuing the theme of prayer that I have been focusing on, today we’ll discuss the next part of our sequence of prayer.
Three weeks ago we talked about prayerful silence. Prayerful silence is significant because, by default, we are surrounded by noise. And when we pray, we always ask for something. Did you notice, for example, how many different things we ask for during the Liturgy?
When we begin to pray, we take a few minutes to slow down, to clear our mind from as many thoughts as possible, from all the things we want to say or ask, and focus on Christ only. We are always in the presence of Christ, but especially in that moment when we pray.
One important thing to note here. We are not focusing our thoughts inwardly, but outwardly. When we pray, the focus is not “me,” but on Christ. When the focus is inside, we become more egotistical, more selfish. Prayer is a relationship, so when we focus outside, on Christ, we strive to build a relationship with the one we are focusing on. I already have a relationship with myself, but I don’t have one with Christ, therefore, I focus on Christ.
After a few minutes of prayerful silence, the first prayer we say is “Our Father,” as we talked about it two weeks ago. In this prayer we recognize in our Creator, in the Judge of the whole universe, our Father because of all things that God is to us, first and foremost – He is our Father, our loving and caring Father.
Then we give thanks. This is perhaps one of the most underutilized prayers that we say. We are so used to asking for things. From the time we are born, all we do is ask. We ask for food. We ask for toys. We ask for money. We ask for promotion. We ask to live longer.
Thanksgiving might be mentioned, sometimes, maybe when we get what we asked for. But the thanksgiving prayer is when we say “thank You” to the Lord for what has happened, what is happening right now, and what will happen.
As I mentioned last week, in some way, our present life is the answer to our prayers. Or think about it this way – our present life is our reaction to the answer to our prayers. All the joy and pain, happiness and suffering that we go through are not meant to make our life better; they are meant to transform us, to make us more Christ-like because in Him is our salvation.
Today we add our sequence of prayer. After giving thanks, we can finally start asking God for things. So what is the first thing we should ask for?
The disciples found themselves on a boat, at night, on a lake, in a storm. While Jesus was on the shore, in silence, praying.
Then Christ did what God does – He walked to His disciples on water. When Peter saw Him, he asked to be able to walk on water just like Christ did. And Christ said, “Come.” And Peter actually took a few steps on water, but the storm and the waves and the wind scared him, he lost focus of the Lord and started drowning.
And in despair, being absorbed by the water, Peter yelled out, “Lord, save me!”
Lord, save me!
After giving thanks, this is the prayer we say next. Lord, save me.
We direct this prayer only to Someone Who is able to save. Or Someone Who we believe can save. We direct this prayer to God, just like Peter did, because God is the only One saves.
And, we ask God to save us because we believe that we need saving. We don’t ask for something unless we actually believe that we need it. Right? We don’t ask for salvation because it would be nice to have it. We ask for salvation because, in the end, when all is said and done, that’s all that matters.
Salvation is one of those things that we can’t achieve on our own, no matter how hard we try. It is a gift from God. The way we receive this gift and the way we react to it determines our salvation.
When Peter was drowning, Christ reached out His hand to Peter. Did Peter say, “Oh no, I’m fine, Jesus. I’ll just swim back to the boat”? Of course not. The only logical thing to do was to grab the hand.
The gift of salvation has already been extended to us, Christ has already died and risen for our salvation. How do we respond?
This sequence of prayer that we have been developing the last four weeks might be able to help us to discern the proper response to the gift of salvation.
Therefore, I would like to challenge everyone here today to practice this prayer sequence – begin with prayerful silence, then “Our Father,” then give thanks, then ask to be saved. And I challenge myself also. It would be a beautiful thing if we prayed individually, yet together.
Through the prayers of our holy fathers and mothers, may the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, hear our petitions and save us.
Unless otherwise specified, the articles here are posted by Father Aleksey, who has no sense of humor and is extremely straight forward.