Prayer Exercise: The Encircling Love of God
The four cardinal directions: north, east, south, and west have imagery that can help us think of God. For each of these directions, pause, reflect, and offer to God a prayer of gratitude for the way He encircles you with His love.
North is the direction with which we can associate the truths of life, our deepest core beliefs, and the things that ground us in God and our identity in God; our True North.
East, the direction of the rising sun, points us to new beginnings. South is the direction of the sun’s warmth.
South indicates the source of our energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and the like.
West, the direction of the setting sun, turns our attention to things in our life that are drawing to a close, or letting go of things that need to be released.
Using aspects of nature to worship God is based on the history of the Christian monastic tradition, which itself was built upon the simplicity of encountering God in and through the natural world. Paul wrote to the Romans about the evidence of God seen throughout the natural world in Romans 1.
"16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” 18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God."
Christians have relied upon what they have known from creation as daily reminders of God’s activity and presence in their lives. Christians from the Celtic tradition use the cardinal directions to pray and be reminded of God through what they called the Caim. This encircling of God was a prayer of protection. Slowly read through each line of the Caim, pausing after each line. You can also start by facing north, then turning east, south, and west with each line of the prayer.
Circle me Lord, keep protection near and danger afar
Circle me, Lord, keep hope within, keep doubt without
Circle me, Lord, keep light near and darkness afar
Circle me, Lord, keep peace within, keep evil without
America has its own indigenous culture in America’s first people which also uses the cardinal directions as a way of remembering the Creator God. The Lakota tribe is one of America’s first people groups to have survived the brutal colonization of European settlers. It is the Lakota tribe that once roamed the Midwest before being forced West.
Our current sermon series, “Staycation,” is all about how we see God moving around us in our community. As you take a drive around downtown Muncie, you can easily spot two statues commemorating the Lakota Nation. One sits at the split of Walnut and Granville and another at the roundabout on Walnut just south of downtown. Muncie actually has a total of 5 publicly accessible commemorations to the indigenous people who came before us.
The Lakota Nation, or Sioux, as they were referred to by the French, are a people deeply connected to the created world, and it is this deep connection to nature that enables them to show reverence towards the Creator. How might we be encouraged by the reverence of the Lakota and other Native American tribes to spur ourselves towards reverence for the Creator God? Like Paul speaking to the people of Athens in Acts 17:22-28, how might our awareness of the Almighty God draw all who have been created in God’s image to worship Him as the One, True God?
In reverence of Our God with you, Pastor Matt
Is there something within nature that points you to the majesty of God? What is it about what you perceive in nature that reminds you of God’s majesty?
King David was a prolific psalm writer, sharing his heart for God through song, poem, and skillful retelling of God’s story. Consider using a creative outlet to express your reverence to God such as writing a poem or song, or drawing a picture.
In conversation with your friends, small group, triad, or family share your reverence of God with one another. Listen to how God impacts the life of those closest to you, and join in worshiping God for His majesty.