One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding round him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
- Imagine the scene, and see the crowds gathered around Jesus.
- Allow yourself to become part of that scene and find a place there.
- Look at the people around you, and listen in their conversations. Let the scene develop, and then let yourself see Jesus. Watch him if you can, but if it is hard for you to ‘see’ Jesus, don’t: worry just allow whatever happens to happen.
- Hear Jesus ask for the boat, whether he asks you or someone else. Be present as he talks from the boat.
- As you hear Jesus’ command to ‘push out into the deep waters’ , take time to think about your life as it is: the people and relationships; the joys and sorrows; the tedium or the failure; the everyday or the specific. Respond to Jesus as you need to.
- Reflect on the net you have brought in –the net that is full to bursting– the net full of all that has been in your life even though you did not recognise it: the kindness and the practical tasks; the care of others; the achievements; the hopes; the longings; the small moments of pride and the large ones. Take the time you need just to let these show themselves to you in your net.
- As you do this, become aware of the fragility of your net and your life. Think of those moments when it all looked as if it would tear apart.
- Think of those people who have come to your rescue, helped you bring this net to shore; who have sustained you.
- Listen as Peter recognises his sinfulness and wants to turn away from Jesus. Remember those moments of doubt or shame or sadness before God and allow yourself to feel again the ambivalence of those moments.
- As you let all this come to mind respond to God as you most need to and take time for this, letting yourself sit in silence before God, listening.
- Hear Jesus say to you, ‘Do not be afraid’ as you listen to his requests of you – look into your life and the days to come and let yourself hear what he is asking of you as you leave the boats behind and become a ‘fisher of men’.
- Respond as you need to and only move out of the prayer as you are ready.
- Take time to write this prayer up – noting the changes of mood and energy during it.
Header image by Kieran McCarthy on Flickr