Little Liturgy for Lent (4 of 7): Imperfect Peter

Attention Seekers is a project that is about practicing presence in the world – of being alert and attentive to the mystery of existence all around us.

The Season of Lent offers a unique opportunity in the church calendar to practice this sort of intentional attentiveness. And so, instead of posting a series of Lenten reflections as we did last year, we are offering these “Little Liturgies” to aid our fellow attention seekers out there!

The prayers and reflections that follow are pilfered from a variety of sources online and in print (sources acknowledged below).

We follow a version of this liturgy in community each week at Newtownbreda (St. John’s) Presbyterian Church. Join us any Wednesday from 1.00 – 1.20 pm, if you are free.


(Psalm 77:13-20)

Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
    you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
The waters saw you, God,
    the waters saw you and writhed;
    the very depths were convulsed.
The clouds poured down water,
    the heavens resounded with thunder;
    your arrows flashed back and forth.
Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
    your lightning lit up the world;
    the earth trembled and quaked.
Your path led through the sea,
    your way through the mighty waters,
    though your footprints were not seen.
You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.


(based on Matthew 14:22-33; adapted from re:Worship)

God, You call us to step out in faith,
to place our lives in Your hands,
and to wholeheartedly commit to following You.
We confess that we find this difficult to do.

It is not always easy to follow where You lead—
to turn away from our own personal wants and desires,
to let go of our safety nets and trust that You will provide for us in all things.
In the silence we confess our sins before you.

Silent prayer

Forgive us when we doubt You, God.
Increase our faith.

Forgive us when we fail to step out of the boat.
Enlarge our trust. 

Forgive us when we keep our eyes fixed on things below.
Help us look up.

Lord, with your help, may we see past our own interests and concerns to Your broader vision for us and for our world.
In Jesus’ name we pray.  


READING: Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

REFLECTION: Imperfect Peter

by Kath Galloway, a minister in the Church of Scotland (adapted from The Little Book of Lent compiled by Arthur Howells) 

Jesus wanted his followers to be seekers, the teachers to be learners also, not people who had all the answers, who doled out enlightenment like community brokers, but people who were aware of their own need to seek truth, who would continue to question until the day they died. In Peter’s blindness lay the seeds of his sight.

And what about the simple fisherman, unversed in religious language, untutored in the subtleties of theology. Fishing was in his blood; it was his vocation. In trouble, his instinct was not to pray or organize but to go fishing. But Jesus didn’t seem to want a priest or a theologian. He wanted a fisherman. When Peter was first rushed to Jesus by his brother Andrew on the shores of Lake Galilee, he didn’t know that he had taken a long road that would lead to Jerusalem and then to Rome. But it was the fisherman who was needed on that road when the priests and the theologians lost the way. It was the language of bread and fish and water and catches that spoke to the hearts of men and women, not the priests of the religious. And it was the ordinary man, trauchled* with the cares and responsibilities that are the lot of most of us, who took his wife and his life with him, who affirmed the life of faith as a possibility for all people burdened by life, not just as something for those set aside and apart. He had no refuge in religious formulae, no retreat into holier-than-though posturing. Only his given self, following Jesus wherever that road led.

There are many forms of ministry, and we are all called to walk in different ways. But all of us are called as the people we are, not to some received picture of ministry. I find one of the most reassuring things about Peter is that he continued to be himself – impetuous, misguided, often getting it wrong. We read about him, for example, later on arguing with Paul and being severely dressed down for it. This endears him to me greatly, as someone who has many arguments with Paul. How comforting to know that Peter went on being himself, went on making mistakes, did not turn into some identikit model church leader. It is sometimes hard for us to make sense of how we experience God working in our lives; sometimes there seems to be so little rhyme or reason in what we’re doing that it’s tempting to try to make ourselves into what we think we ought to be, rather than discovering what we are. It is hard to believe that we are exactly the people needed, so inadequate do we feel. Well, Peter felt like that, and Moses and Samuel, and so even did Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. We are never alone in our fears. But, like Peter, perhaps we can learn that our love, however feeble, however flawed it seems, will be used, will matter, if we don’t give up on it; and it will be imperfect love, not the ideal love of our illusions, that will enable us to walk on water.

*A Scottish word meaning exhausted by long hard work or concern.


A circle prayer. Imagine throwing a pebble into the centre of a pond, and the circles of ripples that move out from the centre.

Our Heavenly Father,
We pray first for those closest to us, our immediate family and closest friends - for their health, needs, joys and fears.

Silent prayer.

God of creation, God of Salvation,
Hear the prayers of our hearts.

As the ripples reach out we pray for those who those living in our local community. For our brothers in sisters from other churches, for local schools and businesses, for families living in our neighbourhood.

Silent prayer.

God of creation, God of Salvation,
Hear the prayers of our hearts.

As the ripples move toward the land we pray for those known to us serving your church overseas, for partner churches, for charities and NGOs working for peace and justice.

Silent prayer.

God of creation, God of Salvation,
Hear the prayers of our hearts.

Finally, as the ripples reach their furthest point we pray for this world and its people. In particular, we continue to pray into the conflict in Gaza, for an immediate end to violence and the establishment of a just peace.

Silent prayer.

God of creation, God of Salvation
Who speaks to us through thunder and whisper
Who loves us as if there were but one of us to love
Hear the prayers of our hearts. 



(“A Prayer in ‘The Middle Years’ of Opportunity” from Celtic Daily Prayer)

Lord, help me now to unclutter my life,
to organize myself in the direction of simplicity.
Lord, teach me to listen to my heart;
teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it.
Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me,
I give you my discontent,
I give you my restlessness,
I give you my doubt,
I give you my despair,
I give you all the longings I hold inside.
Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth;
to listen seriously and follow where they lead
through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.