“Peace, Be Still,” The Fisherman’s Prayer, and anchors for the soul.

There is a very old prayer–known as the “fisherman’s prayer” or the “seafarer’s prayer”–that goes something like this: “Dear God, be close to me; thy sea is so wide, and my boat is so small.”

To me, this prayer captures something of what life itself feels like: the world is big and wide, and not altogether safe, friendly, or predictable, and our ability to cope with it all feels as flimsy as a small wooden boat battling the waves of the open ocean. We are all but guaranteed to face more than a few storms. It is, all in all, a frightening business, this journey of life. Psalm 107 describes this terrifying scene:

Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

The early Christians sometimes likened the journey of life to a voyage on the seas, with the hope that God’s promises are sure and steady, providing “an anchor for the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). Some old churches–including the one where my son performed the role of Jesus at Bible camp–are built to resemble ships on the inside, and the anchor–like the fish–was an important Christian symbol for many, many years–and fittingly so. It is good to have reminders that while the sailing will not always be smooth, and while our boats will sometimes seem pitifully small and rickety, the one who commands the wind and the waves sails with us, speaking to them–and to us–these words: peace, be still.

{This is just an excerpt from my first piece at the motherhood channel of iBelieve. Please read it all here, if you’re interested, and feel free to share.}

One thought on ““Peace, Be Still,” The Fisherman’s Prayer, and anchors for the soul.

  1. Glad I clicked over to read the rest, Rachel. Left a comment there.

    Also, your use of the fisherman’s prayer here is similar to a comment Erica left on my blog today – quoting form The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – about how huge the universe really is. Huge!

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