Starter Prayer: God of Creation, help me be present to your gifts in nature; and set me on a new path of spiritual growth where I can enjoy myself in your presence.
Focus Phrase: Pray with Nature
Optional Read-along: Water, Wind, Earth and Fire pp. 7b-8 (Introduction section: Invitation to Elemental Prayer.)
Have you ever done something the hard way– perhaps for years– only to discover that millions of people are very good at this thing, and they have an easier way of doing it?
I had this experience with cooking. As a young adult, I was determined to become a good cook. My mother and grandmother are very good; but most of their methods are not written down. When I wanted to cook one of their dishes, I would call one of them and ask for the method, which they cheerfully explained over the phone. I would then attempt to cook the dish based on these verbal instructions. I was rarely pleased with the result, and the whole process was difficult and unreliable.
At the time, I didn’t realize that most of my mom’s and Grandma’s methods were explained in a best selling book called The Joy of Cooking. The day I discovered this sacred text of recipes and proven techniques, I got better fast. Fast forward another decade and the Food Network came into my life. Masters like Ree Drummond and Ina Garten made things even easier.
In spiritual life, we tend to do things the hard way until something comes along that makes life with God easier and more fun. Learning to pray with nature is a game changer.
Christine Valters Paintner writes: When we recognize ourselves as a part of the earth community, as the scriptures and mystics have encouraged us to do for centuries, then we begin to see the profound mystery at work in the depths of our own souls as the same sacred mystery at work in the natural world. Being present to the gifts of creation helps to give us insight into paths for our own spiritual growth and into the ways in which God is present to us.
On this summer growth journey, each of the four elements will help us understand God’s presence in our lives: water flows and cleanses; the earth roots us and nourishes us; fire represents the power of Love; and wind expresses freedom, breath, and unpredictability. Each week, we will learn to pray with one element. Next week begins our journey with wind. (Who has a sailboat?!)
As we engage with the elements in simple prayer practices, we will become more aware of our connection to the natural world and also the ways that God is always working in our lives.
For spiritual practice today, do something in nature that you enjoy– something that is easy for you: water plants, take a walk, drive in the country and listen to music… At some point during this enjoyable activity, take note of one or more of God’s elemental gifts within your experience. How did water, wind, fire or earth capture your attention today?
Be encouraged in your practice, Katie Martinez
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This daily devotion is part of the Summer Growth Journey: Learning to Pray with Nature with Crossroads Church. Many of us are also reading through Water, Wind, Earth & Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements by Christine Valters Paintner. To purchase a copy, or for more information, email us at [email protected].