Dirt, the Word, and
By Colleen Currat
I had dirty hands as I stumbled to take my phone out of my pocket to capture this picture. Here was my sacred space where I learned to pray in 800 square feet of dirt near the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado. The cooler evenings gave me time to endlessly weed my first attempt at a vegetable garden. The sounds around me were so soothing and the landscape would surprise me with a beauty that took my breath away. It didn’t take long after those first sprouts that I sensed this garden adventure was turning into an opportunity to draw near to God. I found it so comforting to be so near to the ground and expectant for nature to do its work.
A quick Google search will show you that there have been many hearts that have connected with God in the dirt of a garden. A first glance at the Bible shows us that the first people God created, also met with God in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:8). He speaks here, and reveals himself here.
I had experienced the power of prayer before this season. But it was in a garden where I practiced making the word a foundation for my prayer life. The iron cross in the picture made me think about the gospel and living it out in my life. A verse would flutter to my mind and beckon me to find it in the Word. The Bible became another tool included in my garden tools. When a verse came, or I was simply hungry for a verse, I would go to the foot of that cross and wait. I don’t mean to give too much importance to feelings, but it felt right and powerful to pray his word out loud to him. As I read a Psalm, the landscape seemed to leap to life, everything agreeing in song.
Friends would meet me in my garden. We crawled in the dirt together at work and ended up at the foot of that cross to pray the prayers I had prayed earlier now specifically for my friends. There were a lot of breakthroughs that came, probably more noticeable in the mundane ways, like becoming hopeful again and deciding to worship despite a bruised spirit. My favorite was the gift of friendship that prayer cultivated–so rich, authentic, long-suffering, and generous. I’m not saying that prayer without the word isn’t effective, I’m saying that praying the word opened the eyes of my heart and connected me to my spiritual life in a deeper way. In John 15:7 Jesus tells us, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you”. Investing in abiding in the word brought me to a place where I could experience the truth of God’s word.
As this garden grew, I did too. Even at the end of the season when plants were looking sad, I noticed the seeds that were designed to release at the end of the life cycle. They were small and brilliantly designed. Had I not witnessed the whole cycle of plant life, I wouldn’t be able to believe something so brown and boring could turn into a glorious flower or delicious tomato. I praised God for the lack of beauty as much as I did for its fullness. My favorite author Christie Purifoy says, “when we begin from a place of belief, no matter how small or insubstantial, we can see what was always there, hidden in plain sight (Roots and Sky).” For me, this is a good reminder that living a spiritual life is about the balance of disciplines. Reading the word is essential, but sometimes can be cerebral if nothing is applied or remembered about what is read. If we go to prayer expectant and hungry and we remind ourselves of God’s promises revealed in his word, we grow and bear fruit. The balance of faith and knowledge (applied wisdom) has launched me into growth as nothing else has. I am still a student of intercession, but here are a few insights that may encourage you.
Recognize prayer in the Bible Study and become familiar with the scripture-prayers in the Bible. Notice the context and how the cross-reference affects the context. Here are a few examples: Acts 4:24–30; Ephesians 1:16–23; 3:14–19; Philippians 1:9–11; Colossians 1:9–14; 1 Thessalonians 3:11–13; Hebrews 13:20–21; Revelation 4:8, 11; 5:9–10, 12–14
Turn verses into first- or third-person prayers. Read scripture over and over. Once to become familiar with. Twice to find things that stand out. Three times to read from the perspective of applying it to your life. If praying for someone else, pray that scripture like a glorious narrative of what you are believing God to do for them.
Embrace the imagery in the Bible. The Bible is not cheesy! Imagery is a powerful way to express emotion. Pay attention to how it is used in the Bible and see what deeper meaning it evokes as you use it to pray for your life. For example, Psalm 119:103 says "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Ask yourself if this is true for you. If it’s not, maybe you can ask that the word would be desirable to you, that every word would bless your life, etc.
Use it as a declaration. Find the promises of God and declare them for the people and situations in your life. I have experienced such power in doing this not only to impact my life but to remember the promises that are mine in the Lord! Example: “Lord, your word says in Acts 2:21 that everyone who calls on your name will be saved! I pray this for the people of…, etc.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray. I have experienced that this is an area of growth in prayer. To be able to receive help from the Holy Spirit, sometimes you have to wait and be still. I believe that this is an area where we learn to recognize the voice of our Father. I’m not always aware of when or how God is working in my prayer, but I’ve come to learn when he’s not. I think that trusting God with your prayers is a very good posture.
Mark your Bible and the words prayed for others. It is sweet to stumble upon them at a later time and see that God answered you, or to follow up with what you prayed for.
Worship because God hears you! This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14 Just let it out. Tip the scale into belief and obedience with your outward praise of God. You may not have provision right at the moment, but will he leave you? Will his name be shamed? Isaiah 50:7 says, “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” He is worthy of praise
Practice one prayer at a time. Come pray with the prayer team on Sundays! See how God might meet you right where you are. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 16:18)