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, 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
And Peter answered Him, “Lord, if it is You, bid me to come to You on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-30
Good morning Prayer Team!
Help us, save us, have mercy on us and protect us, O God, by Your grace.
Most of us are familiar with the story of Peter walking on water, or trying to. Like Peter, we all have times in our life when we are afraid. A storm, with its wind and waves, was tossing about the tiny boat that Peter and the disciples were on. He may have had concerns about the integrity of the boat, whether he and his friends would survive to see the morning. And then in the midst of all this, Jesus appears to Peter, walking on the water. Peter doesn’t question Jesus’ ability to walk on the water. He does question whether it is in fact Jesus. Assured that it is Jesus, who makes what seems impossible, possible, Peter eagerly goes to His Lord and Savior, and in this case, a real savior from the storm. He sees the Lord as his safe haven and eagerly gets out of a boat, in a storm, and starts to walk on the water. And he manages pretty well, that is UNTIL HE TAKES HIS EYES OFF OF THE LORD. Distracted now by an earthly concern, in that moment of doubt, this is when Peter begins to sink. And now, certain of his demise, he cries out to the Lord, “Save me.” And Jesus immediately does just that.
Peter’s cry can be seen in two ways—it can be seen as a cry of desperation: “Nothing else is going right, I’m desperate and have nowhere else to turn.” Or it can be seen as a cry of confidence: “I believe, and even though I’ve messed up, and I’ve doubted, I still believe and I know that You Lord will not forsake me.” If Peter really had no faith, first of all, he wouldn’t have gotten off the boat to walk to Jesus in the first place. And when he started to sink, he would have started frantically swimming, rather than calling on the name of the Lord. So, let’s give Peter some credit here actually. Like all of us, he had his moments of doubt. But even in doubt and in a posture of failure, he had enough faith to cry to the Lord, to repent, to believe.
I love St. Peter, because he is really all of us—a man who is trying to believe: a man who makes mistakes, a man who repents and is restored, a man who get is right in the end. Peter sinks and is called a doubter. Later he questions and Jesus says “Get behind me Satan” (Matthew 16:23). Peter fell asleep in the garden when Jesus needed a friend to watch with Him. (Matthew 26:40) He denied Christ when it counted. But Peter is the paramount of the Apostles, and one of our church’s greatest saints.
So, we hear this petition, “Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and protect us, O God, by Your grace” many times in the Divine Liturgy—it is a reminder that we will many failures and setbacks, just like Peter, and that the Lord will be here to help us, save us and protect us, when we cry out to Him, as Peter did when he sank in the sea.
Lord, thank You for the Divine Liturgy and for its constant reminders of your power and mercy. As I pray the Liturgy each week, help me to understand its deeper meaning and help me to incorporate that into my daily life. Help me cross the stormy sea of life, give me the courage to walk on water, to face the challenges I face in my life, knowing that if I keep my eyes on you, that I will not sink. And when I do take my eyes off of You and begin to sink, help me to have the faith to look to you again and again, continually putting my trust and faith in You, at all times and in all circumstances. Amen.
Have a great day!
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The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. OCN offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life. The Prayer Team is a daily devotion written by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, the parish priest at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida. Devotions include a verse from scripture, a commentary from Fr. Stavros, and a short prayer that he writes to match the topic.
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