I think that sometimes we make prayer difficult because we separate it from what is concrete in daily life. We develop the attitude that prayer is supposed to be something in the mind and heart, a spiritual quality hard to define and somewhat elusive to experience.
Yet Jesus urged his disciples to pray, to ask God for what they wanted, to never give up at prayer. The Gospel accounts tell of his regular excursions out to lonely places, often before the day began, to pray by himself. If true prayer is so elusive, I doubt that Jesus would emphasize it so much and encourage us to do it all the time.
Jesus lived in an earthy, agrarian context, so it makes sense that much of his prayer happened outdoors, just over a hill or perhaps in a cave or by a stream. But I wonder if we should give up those physical settings for prayer just because so many of us live in cities now. Maybe prayer is meant to happen with trees, clouds, and creatures around us. Maybe our prayer will deepen and come more alive if we allow it to be grounded in the creation God has provided.
As we explore prayer this summer, I encourage you to connect at least some of your prayer to creation. Pray on your porch—or balcony, if you’re in a high rise—or in your backyard or on a bench in a nearby park. Pray as you move—walking alongside a lake, ocean, river, pond; walking the streets in your neighborhood, walking a well-worn path that seems entirely ordinary and is part of your daily routine.
If going outdoors is difficult, then bring nature indoors. Put a plant or two in your prayer space. Buy a little indoor, desktop fountain. Place favorite stones or shells in the room. Open the window so that outdoor air can come in with its scents and its sensation of warmth or chill.
Pray with stones or flowers in your hand. Pray with all the window shades open, so natural light comes in. Invite the basics of creation—earth, wind, water, light—to soak into your people-made rooms.
- How do you ground your prayer in creation?
- What experiences with creation have helped your prayer?