Prayer and the Outdoors

The Coffee– This week I received a bag of Quill’s Inkwell Signature Blend. Quill’s is based in Louisville, KY. I was picturing this roast as something to brew in my pour over on a lazy Saturday when I first purchased it. However, I ended up grinding it and bringing it to work and it has been nice to have quality coffee to start my workday. It has notes of cherry and vanilla that contribute to the coffee’s smooth flavor. The coffee’s low acidity makes it an easy drinking blend. I look forward to drinking this on a warm spring morning.

The Theology–This prior weekend, I spent my time waking up early, walking through the woods in the dark and sitting quietly in the morning chill waiting on a turkey to emerge from the thick brush in the hopes of securing myself some meat to throw on my smoker. I was unable to fill my turkey tag, but I did spend time in quiet reflection and prayer. Being out in nature provides the perfect backdrop for a believer to get away from the distractions of this world to meet with God in prayer and reflection.

This turkey hunt followed a particularly busy time in my life. Working in public accounting, the first four months of the year are grueling. The tax deadlines require long hours and the mind to be focused at all times on the completion of tax returns. This carried over into my personal life, as most weekends were spent at work and I found even while at home my mind drifted back to the projects I had yet to complete. The pressures and stress of the job were weighing me down.

The outdoors provides the perfect opportunity to escape the pressures and stresses of this world. We can go into the woods with our anxiety high and find rest and rejuvenation. In 1 Kings 19, we see this happen in an account of one of the most well-known prophets, Elijah.  Elijah had just brought the people of Israel to repentance, destroying the altars and priests of Baal.  He brought rain to Israel after three years of drought as a judgment for King Ahab’s wickedness. However, Queen Jezebel threatened Elijah with death and he fled to the wilderness.  Elijah was full of despair and anxiety.  “And he asked that he might die, saying, it is enough now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers” 1 Kings 19:4. However, despite this feeling of defeat, the Lord drew near to Elijah in the wilderness and provided him rest and an uplifted spirit.  “And he lay down and slept under a broom tree.  And behold an angel touched him and said to him.  Arise and eat” 1 Kings 19:5.  The Lord rested and nourished Elijah for forty days before continuing him on his journey.   While in nature and away from life’s pressures, the believer can feel unburdened.  The quiet and solitude can be used as an opportunity for reflection for the believer, and be used to seek out and refocus on God’s plan.

Life can be full of distractions. All around us, there are distractions of technology, social media, jobs, meetings, errands and many other items that pull us in countless different directions. While many of these items provide benefit to us, they can also be a distraction to our walk with Christ. With these things surrounding us, it becomes easy to sin and to put these items as a priority over our relationship with Christ. While these items are a part of our lives, we cannot let them consume us. We are called to separate ourselves from these worldly distractions. Romans 12:2 states: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”. Being in the outdoors provides a great opportunity to get away from these worldly distractions. Being outside, away from technology, social media, and work responsibilities can quiet the mind to meet with God in prayer. Jesus separated himself from the outside world and took his closest disciples to pray in the garden before his crucifixion. Luke 22:39-42 states: “And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, Pray that you may not enter into temptation. And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” When Jesus sought to pray earnestly, he went away from the masses and out into nature.

As the sun disappeared behind the trees, on the first day of the turkey hunt, I sat quietly; waiting and listening for the sound a turkey roosting for the night. In this time of silence and solitude, I found myself in prayer. For the first time in months, I was away from the distractions of this world. I was able to fully focus. This brought with it a feeling of peace that had been lacking in those busy months.

If you are a believer, I urge you to step away from the outside world. Venture out into the wilderness. Go for a hike, walk, or bike ride.  Embark on a hunting, camping or fishing trip. Admire God’s creation and spend some time in quiet reflection and prayer. Seek out his plan for your life. You will find your body, mind, and soul refreshed and rejuvenated.

All scriptures from the ESV Bible

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