Saturday, January 21, 2006

Prayer Garden

A Place for Prayer

My grandsons, ages 8 and 5, are helping me build a prayer garden. Well, that’s what we’re calling it. Right now, the garden consists of one tree and some laboring grass.

The idea for a special place for prayer has been growing, seeded from several sources. A friend has a lovely landscaped area near her home that she calls her “prayer garden.” Also, the gospels tell about Jesus going often to an olive grove, a seemingly favorite outdoor chapel for him, apart from the noise and dust of Jerusalem. From Eden to Gethsemene, conversations with God have taken place in gardens.

I decided our family needed a prayer garden, too, but our yard is not the gardenish-type. It’s rustic to the bone. Plenty of trees dapple the lawn: pines, pin oaks, cedars, sweet gum, mulberry and mimosa. Another variety is a holly tree in its 50’s. Shaped like an open umbrella, the tree has a low-forked trunk, perfect for first-time tree scalers.

Dubbed the “climbing tree” by grandsons Jack and Adam, it will provide shady shelter in the middle of our quiet place. One day, I was telling my grandsons what we would put in the garden: a pea gravel floor, border rocks, a couple of molded plastic chairs and table, a citronella candle, and engraved scripture stones. Caught up in the planning phase, I forgot something very important.

Jack, grew very quiet. When I stopped reeling off the list of things we would “do” to create the garden, he simply asked, “Can we pray in it?”

Jack’s legitimate question focused on the main item for our prayer garden – prayer. Over the years, I’ve read countless articles about prayer, read e-mail prayers, kept a prayer journal and studied prayers in the Bible to discover the physical positions of the prayerful.

Those activities helped me learn about prayer and even tracked results, but they only enlightened “about” prayer. Too many times in life, I’ve been enamored with the prayer-helps instead of actually praying to God.

In the next few weeks, Jack, Adam and I will finish the prayer garden. Then the three of us will sit down in the shade of the holly tree, two seated in the green chairs. One of us will climb the holly tree to sit on a low branch. I’m counting on an eight or –five-year-old volunteer.

After we’re settled under our tree and in it, we’ll talk about the many times Jesus went with his disciples to the garden on the Mount of Olives, including the betrayal night. In the garden that dreadful night, the first word spoken to his disciples was “Pray . . .” (Luke 22:40).

The holly tree, antique rocks and mocking birds hymning will stage a wholesome place for little boys’ prayers. Add one listening Father and it’s the perfect combination—our prayer garden.

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