Updated: Apr 22
Encounter: Many of us struggle to pray—it seems like it should be simple, but it’s not. Yet we can learn from the example of how Jesus opened a whole new way of relating to God as he taught his disciples. Read John 5:19, 15:5, Mark 1:35, Luke 11:5-13, Luke 18:1-8, 9-18. Now read Isaiah 58:11. Imagine yourself sitting with Jesus as he shares these invitations.
Every spring I see a miracle happen. Where there was only dirt and bare limbs, flowers pop up in all their glorious colors, trees sprout new green leaves, peonies defy the wind and rain and every living thing gets a fresh start. One of my favorite plants to see emerge is our hostas. Hostas are known for their beautiful green foliage and are part of a family of 2500 different hostas in the world today. They can be a few inches wide to a few feet wide and flourish in the shade while their flowers feed the hummingbirds and butterflies. I read recently in a gardening blog that hostas represent friendship and devotion, which has drawn me to make our front porch one of my prayer spots as I draw close to Jesus, who calls me friend and who I know is devoted to my growth just as I am to the growth of my hostas.
I think I love hostas the most because they grow so big and you can divide them and propagate new starts easily. All I do is water the roots before planting, deeply root them in a good soil mixture in a location with both sun and shade, give them some “miracle-grow,” and plenty of water. Each year after pruning them down to nothing in the fall, they come back larger the next spring, flourishing like never before. Watching my hostas reminds me of what a life of drawing close to God in prayer can bring.
Like a healthy ecosystem that is created when we plant hostas, prayer is the ground where life begins. Hostas feed species that carry life giving nutrients that cause growth and a thriving environment and prayer deeply roots us in the good soil of God’s abiding presence and love causing us to thrive and become fruitful.
We become cultivators of God’s garden, carriers of life giving water (John 7:37-39), where every child, woman and man become deeply rooted in the love God has for them as they grow and thrive from what looks like bare ground.. And then it starts all over again. One plant reproduces another and so on and so on. Where there was nothing, God’s garden thrives with life.
Prayer is the life-giving soil where all of life grows into a dwelling place of God and you know what happens when you allow yourself to be planted, deeply rooted in your relationship with your Creator God? …you will be like a watered garden, like a spring of water that never fails (Isaiah 58:11). Like a hosta, your presence will remind people of their Creator and friend who is ever devoted to their growth as their Master Gardener.
This Sunday we begin our new sermon series and study, finding encouragement in our faith life by allowing ourselves to be Deeply Rooted in the good soil of prayer. It’s not easy being planted and waiting to grow, but consider this promise of Jesus, Stay joined to me and let my teachings become part of you. Then you can pray for whatever you want, and your prayer will be answered. As we say in Holy Yoga, Root down to rise up!
Deeply Rooted with you,
Reflect: Ask Jesus the questions you have about prayer and write them down. Sit somewhere where you can see new plants sprouting up or take a walk in nature and look at the new spring growth. Be open to what God may impress upon you from these scriptures and from all you see growing around you. Do you struggle with believing that a sovereign God is interested in the details of your life?
Encourage: Spring time reminds us God is always giving us opportunities for a fresh start. If you have struggled with learning how to pray or feeling close to God in prayer, see this new series as a time for a fresh start. Take a 10-minute walk and prayerfully ask God to show you tangible ways that you might increase your love for him. Afterward, write down what came to mind as you walked.
Gather: Like a spring garden, growth happens gradually. Think about the good soil, environment, food and water that is needed for growth. What do these represent in your daily life and discuss in your small group how we reproduce growth in one another. In many ways we are helpless without our Master Gardener and those he puts in our lives to nurture our growth. Is it hard to admit you are helpless? Why or why not?
Book suggestion: In our sermon series we like to encourage you to read and study for further growth. I am recommending, Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools as a resource for Deeply Rooted. Post on social media what you are learning through the series and your reading encouraging others to grow!
Resources: Praying like Monks, Living like Fools book & podcast
Inner Room - Prayer App
24/7 Prayer Movement
Lectio for Families
Lectio 365 app