“Lord, save me.” — Matthew 14:30.


I am going to talk about the characteristics of this prayer in the hope that

there may be many, who have never yet prayed aright, who may make this

their own prayer tonight, so that from many a person here present this cry

may silently go up, “Lord, save me.”


Where did Peter pray this prayer? It was not in a place set apart for public

worship, or in his usual place for private prayer; but he prayed this prayer

just as he was sinking in the water. He was in great peril, so he cried out,

“Lord, save me.” It is well to assemble with God’s people for prayer if you

can; but if you cannot go up to his house, it matters little, for prayer can

ascend to him from anywhere all over the world. It is well to have a special

spot where you pray at home; probably most of us have a certain chair by

which we kneel to pray, and we feel that we can talk to God most freely

there. At the same time, we must never allow ourselves to become the

slaves even of such a good habit as; that, and must always remember that,

if we really want to find the Lord by prayer, —


Where’er we seek him, he is found,

And every place is hallowed ground.”


We may pray to God when engaged in any occupation if it is a lawful one;

and if it is not, we have no business to be in it. If there is anything we do

over which we cannot pray, we ought never to dare to do it again; and if

there is any occupation concerning which we have to say, “We could not

pray while engaged in it,” it is clear that the occupation is a wrong one.

The habit of daily prayer must be maintained. It is well to have regular

hours of devotion, and to resort to the same place for prayer, as far as

possible; still, the spirit of prayer is better even than the habit of prayer. It

is better to be able to pray at all times than to make it a rule to pray at

certain times, and seasons. A Christian is more fully grown in grace when

he prays about everything shall he would be if he only prayed under certain

conditions and circumstances. I always feel that there is something wrong

if I go without prayer for even half an hour in the day. I cannot understand

how a Christian man can go from morning to evening without prayer. I

cannot comprehend how he lives, and how he fights the battle of life

without asking the guardian care of God while the arrows of temptation

are flying so thickly around him. I cannot imagine how he can decide what

to do in times of perplexity, how he can see his own imperfections or the

faults of others without feeling constrained to say, all day long, “O Lord,

guide me, O Lord, forgive me; O Lord, bless my friend!” I cannot think

how he can be continually receiving mercies from the Lord without saying,

“God be thanked for this new token of his grace! Blessed be the name of

the Lord for what he is doing for me in his abounding mercy! O Lord, still

remember me with the favor that thou showest unto thy people!” Do not

be content, deal brethren and sisters in Christ, unless you call pray

everywhere and at all times, and so obey the apostolic injunction, “Pray

without ceasing.”


I have already reminded you, dear friends, that Peter prayed his prayer

when he was in circumstances of imminent danger: Beginning to sink, he

cried, saying, “Lord, save me!” “But,” asks someone, “ought he not to

have prayed before?” Of course he ought; but if he had not done so, it, was

not too late? Do not say, concerning any trouble, “Now I am so deeply in

it, I cannot go to God about it.” Why not? “Is anything too hard for the

Lord?” It would have been well if the disciples had prayed before the first

rough breath of the tempest began to toss their little barque, yet it was not

too late to pray when the vessel seemed as if it must go down. As long as

you have a heart to pray, God has an ear to hear. Look at. Peter; he is

beginning to sink.” The water is up to his knees, it is up to his waist, it is

up to his neck, but it is not yet too late for him to cry, “Lord, save me!”

and he has no sooner said it, than the hand of Jesus is stretched out to

catch him, and to guide him to the ship. So, Christian, cry to God though

the devil tells you it is no use to cry; cry to God even if you are beneath the

tempter’s foot. Say to Satan, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy:

when I fall, I shall arise;” but do not forget to cry unto the Lord. Cry to

God for your children even when they are most ungodly, when their

ungodliness almost breaks your heart. Cry to God on behalf of those whom

you are teaching in the Sunday-school; even when you seem to think that

their characters are developing in the worst possible form, still pray for

them. Never mind though the thing you ask for them should appear to be

an impossibility, for God “is able, to do exceeding abundantly above all

that we ask or think.”


I would also say to any unconverted person who is here, under conviction

of sin, — Dear friend, if you are beginning to sink, yet still pray. If your

sins stare you in the face, and threaten to drive you to despair, yet still

draw near to God in prayer. Though it seems as if hell had opened its

mouth to swallow you up, yet still cry unto God. “While there’s life, there

is hope.”


“While the lamp holds out to burn

The vilest sinner may return;” —


and the vilest sinner who returns shall find that God is both able and willing

to save him. Never believe that lie of Satan that prayer will not prevail with

God. Only go as the publican did, smiting upon your breast, and crying,

“God be merciful to me a sinner,” and rest assured that God is waiting to

be gracious unto you.


I cannot help feeling that Peter’s short, simple prayer was uttered in a most

natural tone of voice: “Lord, save me.” Let us always pray in just such a

way as the Spirit of God dictates to us, and as the deep sorrow and

humiliation of our heart naturally suggest to us. Many men who pray in

public get into the habit of using certain tones in prayer that are anything

but natural, and I am afraid that some even, in private fail to pray naturally.

Any language that is not natural is bad; the best tone is that which a man

uses when he is speaking earnestly, and means what he says, and that is the

right way to pray. Speak as if you meant it; do not whine it, or cant it, or

intone it, but pour it out of your soul in the most simple, natural fashion

that you can. Peter was in too great peril to put any fine language into his

prayer; He was too conscious of his danger to consider how he might put

his words together, but he just expressed the strong desire of his soul in the

simplest manner possible: “Lord, save me!” and that prayer was heard, and

Peter was saved from drowning, just as a sinner will be saved from hell if

he can pray after the selfsame fashion.


I. Now, coming to Peter’s prayer itself, and suggesting that it is a suitable

prayer for all who are able to pray at all, my first observation upon it is that



There were only three words in it: “Lord, save me.” I believe that the

excellence of prayer often consists in its brevity. You must have noticed

the extreme brevity of most of the prayers that are preserved in Scripture.

One of the longest is the prayer of our Savior recorded by John, which

would, I suppose, have occupied about five minutes; and there is the prayer

of Solomon at the dedication of the temple, which may have taken six

minutes. Almost all the other prayers in the Bible are very short ones; and,

probably, in our public services, we pray far longer than all of them put

together. This may, perhaps, be excused when there are many petitions to

be presented by one person on behalf of a large congregation; but at our

prayer-meetings, where there are many to speak, I am certain that, the

longer the prayer is, the worse it is. Of course, there are exceptions to this

rule. The Spirit of God sometimes inspires a man in, such a way that, if he

would keep on praying all night, we should be glad to join with, him in that

holy exercise; but, as a general rule, the Spirit of God does no such thing.

There are some who pray longest, when they have least to say, and only go

on repeating certain pious phrases which become almost meaningless by

monotonous reiteration. Remember, dear friends, when you are praying,

whether in public or in private, that you have not to teach the Lord a

system of theology; he knows far more about that than you do. You have

no need to explain to me, Lord all the experience that a Christian ought to

have, for he knows that far better than you do. And there is not necessity

for you always to go round all the various agencies, and institutions, and

mission stations. Tell the Lord what is in your heart in as few words as

possible, and so leave time and opportunity for others to do the same.

I wonder if anyone here, ever says, “I have no time for prayer.” Dear

friend, dare you leave your house in the morning without bowing the knee

before God? Can you venture to close your eyes at night, and wear the

image of death, without first commending yourself to the keeping of God

during the hours of unconsciousness in sleep? I do not understand how you

can live such a careless life as that. But, surely, you did not really mean

that you had not time to offer such a prayer as Peter’s “Lord, save me.”

How much time does that take, or this? “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

If you realized your true, condition in God’s sight, you would find time: for

prayer somehow or other, for you would feel that you must pray. It never

occurred to Peter, as he was beginning to sink, that he had no time for

prayer. He felt that he must pray; his sense of danger forced him to cry to

Christ, “Lord, save me.” And if you feel as you should feel, your sense of

need will drive you to prayer, and never again will you say, “I have no time

for prayer.” It is not a matter of time so much as a matter of heart; if you

have the heart to pray, you will find the time.


I would urge you to cultivate the habit of praying briefly all the day. I have

told you before of the Puritan who, in a debate, was observed to be making

notes; and when they were afterwards examined, it was found that, there

was nothing on the paper except these words, “More light, Lord! More

light, Lord! More light, Lord!” He wanted light upon the subject under

discussion, and therefore he asked the Lord for it, and that is the way to

pray. During the day, you can pray, “Give me more grace, God. Subdue

my temper, Lord. Tell me, O my God, what to do in this case! Lord, direct

me. Lord, save me.” Pray thus, and you will be imitating the good example

of brevity in prayer which our text sets before you.


II. Notice, next, that, brief as Peter’s prayer was, IT WAS WONDERFULLY


OCCASIONS: “Lord, save me.”


It covered all the needs of Peter at that time, and he might have continued

to use it as long as he lived. When his Master told him that Satan desired to

have him that he might sift him as wheat, he might well have prayed,

“Lord, save me.” When he had denied his Master, and had gone out, and

wept bitterly, it would have been well for him to pray, “Lord, save me.”

When he was afterwards journeying to and from preaching the gospel, he

could still pray, “Lord, save me,” and when, at last, he was led out to be

crucified for Christ’s sake, he could hardly find a better prayer than this

with which to close, his life, “Lord, save me.”


Now, as Peter found this prayer so suitable for him, I commend it to each

one of you. Have; you been growing rich lately? Then, you will be tempted

to become proud and worldly; so pray, “Lord, save me from the evils that,

so often go, with riches; thou art giving me this wealth, help me to be a

good steward of it, and not to make, an idol of it.” Or are you getting

poor? Is your business proving a failure? Are your little savings almost

gone? Well, there are perils connected with poverty; so pray, “Lord, save

me from becoming envious or discontented; let me be willing to be poor

rather than do anything wrong in order to get money.” Do you, dear friend,

feel that you are not living as near to God as you once did? Is the chilling

influence of the world telling upon you? Then pray, “Lord, save me.” Have

you fallen into some sin which you fear may bring disgrace upon your

profession? Well then, ere that sin grows greater, cry, “Lord, save me.”

Have you come to a place where your feet have well-nigh slipped? The

precipice is just before you, and you feel that, if some mightier power than

your own does not interpose, you will fall to your serious hurt, if not to

your destruction. Then, at once breathe the prayer, “Lord, save me.” I can

commend this prayer to you when you are upon the stormy sea, but it will

be equally suitable to you upon the dry land: “Lord, save me!” I can

commend it as suitable to you when you are near the gates of death, but it

is just as much adapted to you when you are in vigorous health: “Lord,

save me!” And if you can add to the prayer, “and, Lord, save my children,

and my kinsfolk, and my neighbors,” it will be even better. Still, for

yourself personally, it is an admirable prayer to carry about with you

wherever you go: “Lord, save me.”


III. Peter’s prayer had a third excellence, IT WAS VERY DIRECT.

It would not have done for Peter just then to have used the many titles

which rightly belong to Christ, or to have been asking for thousand things;

but he went straight to the point of his immediate need, and cried, “Lord,

save me.” When one of our dear friends, who has lately gone to heaven,

was very ill, one of his sons prayed with him. He began in a very proper

way, “Almighty Father, Maker of heaven and earth, our Creator,” — but

the sick man stopped him, and said, “My dear boy, I am a poor sinner, and

I want God’s mercy; say, ‘Lord, save him.’” He wanted his son to get to

the point, and I can sympathize with him; for often, when some of our dear

brethren have been praying here, and have been beating about the bush, I

have wished that they would come to the point, and ask for what they

really needed. They have kept on walking round the house, instead of

knocking at the door, and seeking to enter. Peter’s prayer shows us how to

go direct to the very heart of the matter: ‘Lord, save me.’

Many persons fail to receive answers to their prayers because they will not

go straight to God, and confess the sins that they have committed. There

was a member of a Christian church who had, on one occasion, fallen very

shamefully through drink. He was very penitent, and he asked his pastor to

pray for him, but, he would not say what, his sin had been. The pastor

prayed, and then told the brother himself to pray. The poor man said,

“Lord, thou knowest that I have erred, and done wrong,” and so on,

making a sort of general confession, but that brought him no peace of

mind. He felt that he could not go away like that, so he knelt down again,

and said, “Lord, thou knowest that I was drunk; it was a shameful sin that I

committed, but I am truly grieved for it; O Lord, forgive me, for Jesus’

sake!” and ere his prayer was finished, he had found peace because he had

plainly confessed his sin to God, and had not sought to hide it any longer.

You remember that David could get no peace until he came to the point,

and prayed, “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my

salvation.” Before that, he had tried to smother his great sin; but there was

no rest for his conscience until he had made a full confession of his guilt,

and after that he could say, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a

broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Let our

prayers, whether for ourselves or others, and especially our confessions of

sin, go straight to the point, and not go beating about the bush. If any of

you have been using forms of prayer, which have not obtained for you any

answers to your supplications, put them all on one side, and just go and tell

the Lord plainly what you want. Your prayer will then probably be

something like this, “O God, I am a lost sinner! I have been careless about

divine things; I have listened to the gospel, but I have not obeyed it. Lord,

forgive me, save me, make me thy child, and let me and my household too,

be thine for ever.” That is the way to pray so that God will hear and

answer you.


IV. Another characteristic of Peter’s prayer was that IT WAS A VERY

SOUND-DOCTRINE PRAYER: “Lord, save, me.”


Peter does not appear to have had any idea, of saving himself from

drowning, he does not seem to have thought that there was sufficient

natural buoyancy about him to keep him afloat or that he could swim to the

ship; but, “beginning to sink, he cried, “Lord, save me.” One of the hardest

tasks in the world is to get a man to give up all confidence in himself, and

from his heart to pray, “Lord, save me.” Instead of doing that, he says, “O

Lord, I do not feel as I aught; I want to feel my need more, I want to feel

more joy, I want to feel more, holiness.” You see, he is putting feelings in

place of faith; he is, as it were, laying down a track along which he wants

God to walk instead of walking in the way which God has marked out for

all who desire to be saved. Another man is seeking to reform himself, and

so to make himself fit for heaven; and he prays in harmony with that idea,

and of course gets no answer. I like to hear such, a prayer as this, “O Lord,

I cannot save myself, and I do not ask thee to save me in any way that I

prescribe; Lord, save me anyhow, only do save me! I am satisfied to be

saved by the precious blood of Jesus. I am satisfied to be saved by the

regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. I know I must be born again if I am

ever to enter heaven; quicken me; O thou ever-blessed Spirit! I know I

must give, up my sins. Lord, I do not want to keep them, save me from

them by thy grace, I humbly entreat thee. I know that only thou canst do

this work; I cannot lift even a finger to help thee in it; so save me, Lord, for

thy great mercy’s sake!” This is sound doctrinal truth, — salvation all of

grace, not of man, nor by men; “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh,

nor of the will of man, but of God;” salvation according to the eternal

purpose of God, by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit, through the

substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When a sinner its willing to accept

salvation on God’s terms, then the prayer shall ascend acceptably to the:

Most High, “Lord, save me.”



save me.”


Peter did not blink of anybody else just then; and when, a soul is under

concern about, its eternal interests, it had better at first confine its thoughts

to itself, and pray, “Lord, save me.” Yes, and in the Christian’s after-life,

there will come times when he had better, for a while, forget all others, and

simply pray, “Lord, save me.” Here we are, a great congregation gathered

together from very various motives; and perhaps some here, who are not

yet personally interested in Christ, are vaguely hoping that God will bless

somebody in this assembly; but if the Holy Spirit shall begin to work upon

some individual heart and conscience, the convicted one will begin to pray,

“Lord, save me. I hear of many others being brought to Jesus; but, Lord,

save me. My dear sister has been converted, and has made a profession of

her faith; but, Lord, save me. I had a godly mother, who has gone home to

glory; and my dear father is walking in thy fear; let not their son be a

castaway, Lord, save me.”


I entreat everyone here to pray this personal prayer, and I beg you who do

love the Lord to join me in pleading with him that it may be so. I see some

little girls over there; Will not each one of you, my dear children, pray this

prayer? I pray the Holy Spirit to move you to cry, “Lord, save little

Annie,” or “Lord, save little Mary;” and may you boys be equally moved to

pray, “Lord, save Tom,” or “Lord, save Harry.” Pray for yourself in just

that simple way, and who knows what blessing may come to you? Then

you mothers will surely not let your children pray for themselves, while you

remain prayerless; will not each one of you pray, “Lord, save me”? And

you working-men, whom I am so glad to see at a week-night service, do

not go away without presenting your own personal petitions. The apostle

Peter had to pray for himself, the most eminent servants of God had to

pray for themselves, and you must pray for yourselves. If all the saints of

God were to pray for you, with one united voice, as long as you live, you

would not be saved unless you also cried to God find yourself. Religion is a

personal matter, there is no such thing as religion by proxy. You must

repent for yourselves, and pray for yourselves, and believe for yourselves if

you would be saved. May God grant that you may do so!

VI. I want you to notice, next, that PETERS PRAYER WAS A VERY

URGENT ONE: “Lord, save me.”


He did not say, “Lord, come to-morrow, or “Lord, save me in an hour’s

time.” He was “beginning to sink; the hungry waves had opened their

mouths to swallow him, and he would soon be gone. He had only time to

cry, “Lord, save, me,” but he no doubt meant, “Lord, save me now, for I

am in danger of being drowned. Lord, save me now, for, if thou shouldest

delay, I shall sink to the bottom of the sea.” And immediately Jesus

stretched forth his hand, and caught him,” and so saved him. There are

many people who would like Jesus to save them, but when? Ah! that is the

point which they have not settled yet. A young man says, “I should like

Christ to save me which I grow older, when I have seen a little more of

life.” You mean when you have seen a great deal more of death, for that is

all you will see in the world; there is no, real life except that which is in

Christ Jesus. Many a man in middle life has said I mean to be a Christian

before I die, but not just yet.” He has been too busy to seek the Lord, but

death has collect to him without any warning, and, busy or not, he has had

to die quite unprepared.


There is hope for a sinner when he prays, “Lord, my case is urgent, save

me now. Sin, like a viper, has fastened itself upon me; Lord, save, me now

from its deadly venom. I am guilty now, and condemned already, because I

have not believed in Jesus; Lord, save me now, save, me from

condemnation, save me from the damning sin of unbelief. Lord, for aught, I

know, I am now upon the brink of death, and I am in danger of hell as well

as of death as long as I am unforgiven. Therefore, be pleased to let the

wheels of thy chariot of mercy hasten, and save, me even now, O Lord!” I

have known some who have been so deeply under the influence of the Holy

Spirit, that they have knelt down by their bedsides, and said, “We will

never give sleep to our eyes, or slumber to our eyelids, till we have found

the Savior,” and ere long they have found him. They have said, “We will

wrestle in prayer until our burden of sin is gone, “and when they have

reached that, determination it has not been long before they have obtained

the blessing they desire. When nothing else succeeds, importunity will

surely prevail. When thou wilt not take a denial from God, he will not give

thee a denial; but as long as thou art content to be unsaved, thou wilt he

unsaved. When you cry with all the urgency of which you are capable, “I

must have Jesus, or die; I am hungering, thirsting, pining, panting after

him, as the hart panteth after the water-brooks;” it shall not be long before,

you clasp that priceless treasure to your heart, and say, “Jesus is my

Savior; I have believed in him.”


VII. Now, lastly, I must remind you that PETERS PRAYER WAS AN



There may be comfort, to some here present, in the thought that, although

this was the prayer of a man in trouble, and a man in whom there was a

mixture of unbelief and faith, yet it succeeded. Imperfections and infirmities

shall not prevent prayer from speeding if it be but sincere and earnest.

Jesus said to Peter, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

which shows that he did doubt although there was also some faith in him,

for he believed that Christ, could save him from a watery grave. Many of

us also are strange mixtures, even as Peter was. Repentance and hardness

of heart can each occupy a part of our being, and faith may he in our heart

together with a measure of unbelief, even as it was with the man who said

to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”


Do any of you feel that you want to pray, and yet cannot pray? You would

believe in Jesus, but there is another law in your members which keeps you

back. You would pray an effectual prayer, like that of Elijah, never

staggering at the promise through unbelief; but, somehow or other, you

cannot tell why, you cannot attain to that prayer. Yet you will not give up

praying; you feel that you cannot do that. You linger still at the mercy-seat

even when you cannot prevail with God in prayer. All, dear soul! it is a

mercy that God does not judge thy prayer by what it is in itself; he judges it

from another point, of view altogether. Jesus takes it, mends it, adds to it

the merit of his own precious blood, and then, when he presents it to his

Father, it is so changed that you would scarcely recognize it as your

petition you would say, “I can hardly believe that is my prayer, Christ has

so greatly altered and improved it.” It has happened to you as it sometimes

happens to poor people who are in trouble, as it did happen to one whom I

knew some time ago. A good woman wanted me to send in a petition to a

certain government office, concerning her husband, who was dead, and for

whose sake she wanted to get some help. She drew up the petition, and

brought it to me. About one word in ten was spelt correctly, and the whole

composition was unfit to send. She wanted me to add my name to it, and

post it for her. I did so, but I first re-wrote the whole petition, keeping the

subject matter as she put it, but altering the form and wording of it. That is

what our good Lord and Master does for us only in infinitely higher sense,

he re-writes our petition, sets his own sign-manual to it, and when his

Father sees that, he grants the request at once. One drop of Christ’s blood

upon a prayer must make it prosper.


Go home, therefore, you who are troubled with doubts and fears, you who

are vexed by Satan, you who are saddened by the recollection of your own

past sins; notwithstanding all this, go to God, and say, “Father, I have

sinned against heaven, and before thee,” and ask for his forgiveness, and

his forgiveness you shall receive. Keep on praying in such a fashion as this,

“Lord, save me, for Jesus’ sake. Jesus, thou art the Savior of sinners, save

me, I beseech thee. Thou art mighty to save; Lord, save me. Thou art in

heaven pleading for transgressors; Lord, plead for me.” Do not wait till

you get home, but pray just where, you are sitting, “Lord save me.” May

God give grace to everyone here to pray that prayer from the heart, for

Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.



"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."


If this sermon is helpful, please share with others.