Advertisement

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

21 Ways to Pray: A Walk in the Woods or Freezing my Toes

By Mark Herringshaw

My car broke down on Tuesday morning this week, and I sat for an hour beside the road waiting for the tow truck. Not a big deal, normally, except that it’s winter in Minnesota a full week before winter solstice. Outside my car it was 25 degrees below zero wind-chill. That was a long painful hour. My toes are still thawing. But, with a stiff inner reminder, even in that miserable state, I found a moment to pray. In fact, that encounter with nature’s bitter side gave me pause to connect with God in a new way, to see and appreciate new sides of his power and mercy.

I can pray in church; but I can pray more freely on a walk in the woods, or running along the beach, or sitting in a rowboat in the middle of lake at midnight, or yes, sitting in a freezing car. Creation is a crystal clear window into God’s creative power. The beauty and even the fury of nature reveal his wonders. We Christians don’t believe that nature is God, but we do know it comes from God and reflects back to us aspects of his nature. Today, find a moment to be in nature, and there, connect intimately with God. Even a miserable moment in the elements gives us cause to pause…

Advertisement

In our book Nine Ways God Always Speaks, Jennifer Schuchmann and I write about this aspect of communication with God. Here’s an excerpt.

In 1869 John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, and one of America’s first conservationists, spent the summer traversing the rugged granite passes of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. In late August, Muir came to Upper Tuolumne Basin, home to a cluster of majestic, heaven-reaching granite spires named the great Cathedral Peak. A bit of a spiritual free spirit, John recorded the moment in his journal:

Advertisement

It is a majestic temple of one stone, hewn from the living rock, and adorned with spires and pinnacles in regular cathedral style. The dwarf pines on the roof look like mosses. I hope some time to climb to it to say my prayers and hear the stone sermons.

Most of us would just see rocks and trees, but Muir saw a cathedral. He wanted to climb the mountain not for the physical challenge of conquering it and getting a T-shirt to prove he did. He wanted to climb it for spiritual reasons. His desire was to experience God through nature, to say his prayers and listen to God speak through the rocks.

That’s remarkably similar to a verse in the Gospel of Luke. During the triumphal entry, the disciples are praising Jesus, bursting out in song, and dancing about. Then the Pharisees turn to Jesus and say, “Tell them to shut up!”

Advertisement

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

If the disciples stop praising Jesus, the stones will cry out?

Can stones speak?

Rocks reveal?

Boulders babble?

If so, what do they say? Muir believes they were issuing an invitation to a holy church.

No feature, however, of all the noble landscape as seen from here seems more wonderful than the Cathedral itself, a temple displaying Nature’s best masonry and sermons in stones. How often I have gazed at it from the tops of hills and ridges, and through openings in the forests on my many short excursions, devoutly wondering, admiring, longing! This I may say is the first time I have been at church in California, led here at last, every door graciously opened for the poor lonely worshiper.

Advertisement

He describes this bulge on the earth’s surface as a place that has beckoned him–a place he has pondered, admired, and longed for. Muir recognizes it is a church–nature’s church–a place for a lonely worshiper to enter.

Come in.

Sit down.

Pray and listen.

When he listened, did he hear rocks cry out with a language we can’t speak but only hear? A language we can’t study but only experience?

Perhaps in this natural church God’s sermon is subtle.

Advertisement

Check out the other “21 Ways to Pray” in a special Beliefnet devotional I’ve written. And as always, feel free to add in your own perspectives.

 

  • http://www.ukhollistercosale.co.uk/ hollister

    the design concept is to reflect the Southern California beach surf style. And also the prices are much lower than A&F. we are impressed of the Hollister advertising. Under the lens of photographer Bruce Weber, young boys and girls in California vibrant interpretation of a different kind of grace!

Previous Posts

A Prayer for an Obedient Heart
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world.You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your ...

posted 12:56:59pm Jul. 29, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer to Grow Old Gracefully, Fruitfully, and Strong
Even in old age they will still produce fruit;     they will remain vital and green. (Psalm 92:14) I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you ...

posted 1:47:16pm Jul. 28, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer for Hospitality
And everyone who has given up houses...for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. (Mark 19:29) Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. (1 Peter 4:9) "Anyone who ...

posted 3:11:45pm Jul. 24, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer for Blind and Deaf and Dumb Church-Goers
Who is as blind as my own people, my servant?     Who is as deaf as my messenger? Who is as blind as my chosen people,     the servant of the Lord? You see and recognize what is right     but refuse to act on it. You hear with ...

posted 11:29:07am Jul. 23, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer to Tend the Garden of My Soul
Sow for yourselves according to righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God); reap according to mercy and loving-kindness. Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, to inquire for and of Him, and to require ...

posted 12:43:43pm Jul. 22, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.