Devotional Week 9 Tuesday
“O our God, won’t You stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to You for help.”
II Chronicles 20: 12
New Living Translation
“This battle was won. As those in Judah sang praises, the desperate enemy forces turned against each other, annihilating one another’s armies.”
Today’s Study Text:
“So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me Lord!’ he shouted.”
Matthew 14: 29, 30
“Praying Always” – Part 2
“A Prayer of Desperation”
“The reason why we don’t pray more -- and probably don’t see more answers to prayer -- is not because we don’t know how to pray but because we don’t really need to pray. We are not desperate enough.”
When God Doesn’t
Answer Your Prayer
Have I ever prayed a prayer of complete desperation because I felt I would perish without God’s intervention in my life?
What does it mean to me to feel desperate?
Has there been a time in my life that I remember God coming to my rescue, when like Peter, I asked God to, “save me”?
“Prayer is the never failing resort of the Christian in any case and in every plight.”
“Because (she) has set (her) love upon Me, therefore will I deliver (her); I will set (her) on high, because (she) knows and understands My name, has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness -- trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake (her), no, never! (She) shall call upon Me, and I will answer (her); I will be with (her) in trouble. I will deliver (her) and honor (her).”
Psalm 91: 14, 15
He is one of those characters that just pops off the pages of Scripture. Brash, bold and self-confident. I have a feeling that if you or I had met Simon Peter for the very first time, we would have come away with the impression that he was a “can-do” kind of guy.
We might have found him a little rough around the edges, but that tough guy image was certainly what you would think would give him the upper hand in an age when the brutal Romans were ruling Judea and Galilee.
Working as a fisherman, a job that required skill and diligence, Peter certainly seemed like an unlikely follower of the man from Galilee -- Jesus Christ. But a loyal follower he became, however rocky the road that led him to his place at Jesus’ side.
As we study some of the most simple and direct prayers recorded in the Bible, Peter’s cry to Jesus for help stands out because it is shouted to Jesus at a time of absolute desperation. And I’ll ask, “Who among us hasn’t found ourselves at one time or another, in a desperate situation?”
Peter’s moment of extreme despair happened on a night when the stormy waves had turned the Sea of Galilee into a dangerous place. However, a slight digression is necessary for on that particular day, Jesus had received the news of the death of his cousin, John the Baptist, at the hands of the tyrant ruler Herod. The beheading of John by this monster left Jesus in a state of sorrow. We find Him seeking solace -- some alone time to grieve the loss of one He loved. However, I imagine that the demise of John, may have led Jesus to reflect on His own future.
But if it was “alone time” Jesus desired, no such gift was to be bestowed upon Him. By evening, the throngs of people who had followed Him were getting hungry and His’ disciples informed Him of the crowds plight. Beginning with just fives loaves and two fish, in the hands of Jesus, this meager fare became an expansive supper, which stretched into food for “5,000 men, not including women and children.” And lest I forget to mention, the Bible reminds us that there were “twelve small hand baskets full of the broken pieces left over.” (Matthew 14).
After feeding this mass, Jesus told His disciples to get in a boat and go across Galilee while He sent the crowd on its way. It was then that Jesus finally was allotted a few moments alone to pray. We are told that between 3:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M., “Jesus came to them (His disciples in the boat), walking on the sea.” (Matthew 14: 25, Amplified Bible). Thinking that a figure crossing the water couldn’t possibly be human, the terrified disciples thought they were being confronted by a ghost.
But as Jesus always does when we are in a state of desperation, He called out, “Take courage! I AM! Stop being afraid!” This reference to “I AM” is the same way God described Himself to Moses, when at the burning bush, Moses confronted the God of heaven and earth, Creator and Almighty Everlasting Father. (Exodus 3: 14).
Once Jesus had responded to the disciples, the first to be “Johnny-on-the-spot” and speak-up, was of course Peter who issued this directive, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water” (Matthew 14: 28, Amplified Bible). A rather out-spoken demand to Jesus. However, instead of chastising Peter for being so impetuous, Jesus invited Peter to hop out of the boat and walk to Him.
Now with self-confidence oozing out of every pore Peter began doing the unthinkable. He found himself doing what he had never seen another man, except Jesus, do.
Gliding along on the top of the sea must have given this tough fisherman a real sense of accomplishment. Just think for a minute how you would have felt. However, this is the point when Peter’s troubles began! For just like the Pharisee we met yesterday, who failed to recognize that we are all sinners in need of a Saviour, Peter learned a critical lesson out on the sea when his eyes, instead of focusing on Jesus, became directed downward at the waves that threatened to topple him. At the moment when Peter felt so proud of what he was doing, was the moment when Peter began to wobble.
The Apostle Paul reminded the young Christians in the church in Corinth that we all need to be vigilant for as he admonished, “Let him (or her) that thinketh (she) standeth, take heed lest (she) fall.” (I Corinthians 10: 12, Amplified Bible). For Peter, the brief thought, however fleeting it may have been, that he had what it took to walk alone in his own power, became his undoing.
In words that have passed all our lips at one time or another, when in our own strength and power we thought we could navigate the treachery we call everyday life, Peter cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save me.” It’s another short prayer. Direct and to the point. But when you are sinking in a rough sea, with waves threatening to push you under at any moment and death appears imminent, “Lord, save me,” are the words that would be spoken by any one of us -- words that echo the fear and dread brought on by a self-sufficiency which says, “I’m able. I can do it on my own.”
But when like Peter, we recognize how very weak we are, in any desperate moment, at any time of fear or despair, we can cry out to our heavenly Father, “O, please save me,” and His response will be immediate. As Psalm 50: 15 so beautifully instructs us, “Call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall honor and glorify Me.”
When Peter stepped out of the boat and found himself with the ability to do the impossible, like with many of us, his, “sure-of-himself” attitude took over, and his eyes were taken off the One who gives power to the weak and strength to the faint -- and this includes all of us. As Harold C. Phillips so accurately observes, “We are all weak, finite, simple human beings, standing in the need of prayer. None need it so much as those who think they are strong, those who know it not, but are deluded by self-sufficiency.” May our prayer today be, “O Lord, I can’t do anything without You. Please save me.”
“Lord, I’m at the end of all my resources.”
“Child, You’re just at the beginning of Mine.”
Ruth Harms Calkins
Lord, Save me!
Matthew 14: 30
“Dear Master of the Wind and Waves, help me when the sudden storms of life come crashing over me with their fierce winds and frothing waves. I have seen enough storms, Lord, to know how quickly peaceful circumstances can turn into catastrophe.
I have seen the strong become weak with disease. I have seen the freest of spirits become enslaved with addiction. I have seen the brightest of stars fall like meteors in a streak of dying fame.
I have seen respected preachers and politicians disgraced to become the laughingstocks of the land.
I have seen banks go bankrupt, their riches taking wings on the updrafts of plummeting markets. I have seen fortunes lost in gold, silver, and precious stones. I have seen dynasties of oil, real estate, and stocks swept overboard to the bottom of the sea.
I have seen the faithful lose faith. I have seen happy marriages with hopeful beginnings end up on the rocks of infidelity. And I have seen prodigals blown off course to sink in a sea of sin.
Yes, Lord, I have seen a lot of storms. Too many of other people’s to feel untouchable. Too many of my own to feel critical or proud or unsympathetic.
Some dear people I love, Lord, are going through some tempestuous times right now. Help them to see You in the midst of their storms -- You who rule the wind and waves with only a word. And help them to see that no matter how devastating the storm that sweeps over them, You do care if they drown. Help them not to be hasty in judging Your concern for them during those times when their lives seem to be sinking and You seem to be asleep in the stern.
Help them to see that You allow storms in their lives to strengthen them -- not to shipwreck them. And help them to see that it is You who not only points out the direction their lives should take but who rides with them to hasten their safe passage.
Thank You, Lord Jesus, for being there during our individual storms. And when uncertain seas unsettle our faith, turn our attention to You so that the tempest in our souls might be quieted and made still.”
Incredible Moments With the Savior
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus