“And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and led down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we have toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’” (Luke 5:4-5 ESV).
I mentioned last week that I’ve been struggling with prayer lately. It’s not the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I’m also fairly certain that many of you are in the same boat.
We cast our nets over the side, hoping that we will get a catch. Again and again we repeat the process, blindly throwing our prayers over the side of our vessel.
“Am I in the right spot? I’ve caught fish here before…”
In reality however we are never in the same spot. Prayer, for those of us who call ourselves Christians, is conversation that takes place within the context of relationship. Before we came to faith, prayer was nothing more than a wishlist and a blind cry for the fulfillment of our desires.
When we came to faith in Christ Jesus, we entered into a relationship with Him. We give God the respect that is due Him; but a relationship is also about communication. Relationships cannot achieve sustainable growth without it.
Did you catch that? Sustainable growth.
When we are new in our faith, when we begin praying, we find ourselves in what I call Ask Mode. Ask Mode is a new Christian’s first attempts at establishing communication with the Creator of all things. It is easily identified, because it is marked by repeated petitions and distinctly lacks depth.
Ideally, as we grow in our faith, our prayers reflect a desire to know God intimately. Rather than asking for things, we begin to ask deeper questions.
“God, what does this scripture mean? How can I integrate this verse into my daily life? What does this passage reveal about who you really are?”
We have all been frustrated with someone in our lives who seems to live in Ask Mode. Maybe it’s someone at work or church. You cringe when you see them approaching, or when their name pops up on your caller ID. You already know that they are going to make a request of you. They aren’t really interested in developing relationships, but rather exploiting their acquaintances for their own selfish gain.
They cast their prayer nets over the side of the boat, in shallow waters, hoping that they will get what they want.
At times, despite growth, we find ourselves reverting to Ask Mode. Surprisingly, we are dumbfounded when we haul our nets back into the boat only to find them empty. I have recently recognized that I have reverted to Ask Mode. Day after day, I have been hoping with each toss of my net to haul in some selfish satisfaction.
But there is good news! When we soften our hearts and actually take the time to listen, God speaks. He gently brings conviction by His Holy Spirit. He leads us back to the basics…relationship.
Jesus had to take to a boat to preach His message, as the crowds pressed in on Him. Simon was kind enough to host Him aboard his vessel while He taught. Peter had been fishing all night, likely with his brother Andrew, James and John. Seasoned fishermen, they knew how to catch fish. But that night they had caught nothing, and were cleaning their nets.
“And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we have toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’” (Luke 5:4-5 ESV).
Jesus gently encouraged them to go deeper, and there they would find that their nets were empty no more.
Wearied from their labor, it would have been so easy to say, “Yeah, Jesus…we’re kind of tired, so we’re going home. But Peter chose obedience. Maybe it was because of something Jesus said in his message. Maybe something deep inside him told him that this time it was going to be different.
Whatever the reason, Peter obeyed. And he found even more than he was looking for.
I, for one, am going to go deeper. I am wearied of selfishly tossing my net, hoping to haul in my own desires. I am going back to the deeper waters of obedience and relationship. There I will find my nets are no longer empty.
Blessings on your week!
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