Before He walked on water….
A sermon by Fr. James Guirguis
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 14:22-34
In today’s gospel reading we hear the familiar story of Our Lord Jesus Christ walking on water in the midst of a storm at sea. It reminds us of the power of this Jesus to defy nature and physics. It is an unbelievable story but that shouldn’t really surprise because we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and so we expect that the Son of God will do things that have never and will never be seen again. We should in fact be amazed if we did not hear these kind of stories about the Lord.
But I don’t want to focus on what the Lord did when He walked on the sea. I want to focus on what happened just before that astounding moment. We are told by the evangelist St. Matthew that “He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.”
We can imagine a long day dealing with so many people, healing their sick, hearing their cries, feeding the masses. Our Lord would no doubt have been exhausted. That’s hard for us to imagine because we think “Son of God” but we need to remember that the Lord is fully human. He was tired. But He didn’t take the first chance He had to go and catch some sleep.
He went by Himself to pray. It is really important to see the way that the Lord Jesus is always returning to prayer. He needed it. He longed for this connection to His Father. He would speak to His Father and His Father would speak to Him. The Lord would offer up His human weakness to the Father and the Father would pour out divine comfort and strength.
The Lord often teaches us that the most important thing in life is focusing on God. Those aren’t simply words. The Lord lived this reality. Prayer wasn’t something you did when the mood was right. For Our Lord, prayer is the thing you do in order to get right. Prayer is not only a chance to kneel before God as a humble lump of clay. It is a chance for the Lord to begin molding you and transforming you from clay into beautiful vessels.
The art of arts is prayer. We have become quite good at many disciplines. Each one of us is talented by the grace of God. But what are we doing to cultivate this art of prayer? How many of us read either the morning or evening prayers from the prayer book? How many of us turn to the psalms on a regular basis? How many of us find ourselves lonely for the voice of God? How many of us are hungry to know God? How often have we fallen to our knees to cry to God? How often have we fallen to our knees in thanksgiving?
Prayer is a way of making God our focus in every aspect of life. In fact we might say that if you can’t say a prayer before whatever it is you are about to do…then you probably should not be doing it.
I don’t want you to pray to go through the motions. I want you to know that prayer starts as a motion but can quickly become something amazing. It is a gift from God. The door to God is open wide. Give God your cares and worries before you share them with others. Speak to God as if He listens and you might be surprised to notice His hand in every aspect of life.
Prayer is cool water for the thirsty. Prayer is a comfortable bed for the weary. Prayer is meat for the hungry. Prayer is joy for those who are sad. Prayer is an invitation to sit with the King.
Prayer allows us to do and to be what is otherwise impossible. And Glory be to God forever AMEN.