Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh


(From “Courage to Pray”)

Often we are in tumult, and we surrender to it and are defeated. That is why our prayer is trembling and hesitant, a prayer of tumult, uncertainty and incoherence. Isn't this the story of the storm on the lake of Galilee? The Lord and his disciples are on the lake. A tempest comes up when they are out to sea. Death threatens them, the waves are huge, the winds beat against them. They fight for their lives as hard as they can, and all this while the Lord is asleep on a cushion at the prow. He looks comfortable to them. They can't bear him looking so comfortable, his indifference. In their wretchedness they turn to him, wake him up, try to force him to realise what is happening. 'Lord, do you not see that we perish?' But what are they doing by asking this question? Are they appealing to the Lord to control the storm? Yes and no. First of all they want him to share their suffering. They want him to be as anxious as they are. They think he will not help them unless he shares their anxiety. The Lord gets up, he refuses to share their panic. He keeps his own serenity. First he turns to them, 'How long must I be with you, men of little faith?' And then he turns towards the storm, and casts his own serenity onto it. He orders the waves to be still and the wind to be silent, and his own peace to come down on everything about him. The storm is still and the disciples fall at his feet. Who is he? They are still doubtful. We often make the same mistake. Instead of seeking to share God's serenity, we ask God to share our tumult. Of course he does share it, but with his own serenity. This turmoil, disorder, disharmony, discord often enter our lives both in us and around us. They are caused by events we do not understand and human actions which are also tormented. And this is the essential problem, the link between the turmoil of life and our prayer, disturbance and serenity. We must realise in advance that in every confrontation between our inner peace and the hurly-burly of life, victory will go to the turmoil, because our prayer is weak and life is hard. Life is ruthless whereas our prayer, our inner peace and serenity is fragile. If we want to keep it and gain the victory over life, this must not be by open confrontation but as water waters the earth. The Fathers said that water is an image of humility. It goes to the bottom. This is quite true, but water is also invincible. When through its weight it reaches the bottom, it begins to rise and nothing can stop it. This is what our prayer should do.

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