Our family includes a dog, but no cat. We hold nothing particular against felines, except that four of the six humans in our house get puffy eyes whenever they’re around. JoJo, our feisty firebrand miniature poodle has another kind of allergy to cats. A cat isn’t an option, but all other things considered, we’d probably consider keeping one around, just for variety.
Supposedly dog people and cat people see the world very differently. Dogs and cats certainly do. You know the stereotypes: dogs are loyal; cats are independent. I don’t think God is either a cat or a dog person. He made both and values both bounding enthusiasm and calm, staid self assurance. There’s a bit of “dog” and a bit of “cat” in us all, in our relationship with God.
Having a pet of any kind can teach us a great deal about our relationship with God. In fact our connection with our creatures is a relative parallel to our connection with God. Relative to us, a domesticated animal is dependent and must trust us for shelter and protection and provision. In a way, we are “as God” to them, and the love and commitment we feel toward them mirrors ever so slightly how God feels about us.
Reflecting on our relationship with our pets is a great starting place for connecting with God. Holding our dog or our cat can even be a platform for prayer. Try it. Pull them up on your lap – if they’re small enough – or kneel beside them and scratch their ears. As you do ponder the connection, and as you talk with your friend and let them communicate with you, turn your focus up toward God and continue the dialog.
Prayer can be rich when it’s simple and spontaneous. In fact, we can pray anywhere, at any time. It doesn’t require lofty language in a sacred space. All we need to do is see our ordinary moments as the perfect occasions for communicating with God, then speak from our heart.
Try praying holding your dog or cat. God loves animals even more than we do. In fact, our relationship with them in many ways mirrors our relationship with God. As we are with the creatures under our care, so God is with us. Thank him for your pet, and that you can trust God as they trust you. Here’s a simple model prayer for this theme:
“God, thank you for the such an amazing world and the gift of letting us share our lives with our pets. You made animals and love them dearly. Even heaven will have animals – the Bible tells us this. The way we treat our animals and care for them can be a great bridge for us to understand how you care for us. And the way the our animals respond to our love should be a great example to us – a picture of how we can respond to your love. Bless our animals and our friendship with them. Help us to honor them as you honor us. Help us to trust you as they trust us. We pray this in Jesus…”
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.