Devotional used by our Women's Ministry on October 28, 2023 for a time of prayer at Rip Van Winkle Gardens at Jefferson Island.
Creation cries out God's glory so as we wander through the garden, we hope you enjoy some time in prayer that draws you near to the Lord and invites you to delight in the beauty He created.
Create your own path. Stop and linger wherever you like and ask God to guide you through this prayer walk. Feel free to pray with a friend or ask a leader to pray with you.
The Bell (Exodus 28)
Bells weren't specifically mentioned but a few times in the Bible, most notably, when the high priest added bells to the hem of his garment as he entered the holy place to offer a sacrifice. The bells indicated if the sacrifice was accepted. If the bell stopped, they knew it was not. This was before Jesus died on the cross. The veil has been torn, and we no longer need a priest to make sacrifices on our behalf. Jesus was our sacrifice.
As you pass the bell:
• Dwell on God's great holiness. What makes Him greater than all?
• Reflect on what a privilege it is that we can pray anywhere and anytime.
The Fountain (Proverbs 4)
We can only hide what's inside us for so long. What's inside eventually comes out. That's why the things we let into our minds must be edifying and from the Lord. Proverbs 4:23 says "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." Vigilance seems like such an aggressive word, but our hearts won't simply stay in neutral. The heart will veer somewhere. What direction do our thoughts go?
As you sit by the fountain:
• Reflect on the things that are going into your heart and impacting the springs of life.
• Think of a verse that you want to meditate on or memorize.
The Lawn (Psalm 23)
When life is crazy, my hands always seem to find Psalm 23 in my Bible. The verse "He makes me lie down in green pastures" is where I feel my shoulders unclench and my breath slow. The realization that I'm not failing God by not keeping all the balls up in the air is so freeing. So much of my weariness comes from adding to the plan God has laid out for my life. Instead of seeking all the things, He's simply asking me to seek Him first and all these things will be added (Matthew 6:33).
As you stretch out on the lawn:
• Ask God to show you what things you are carrying that He's not asking you to carry.
• Simply sit and rest with no agenda.
The Oak (Jeremiah 17: 7-8)
Sitting under a big oak tree always makes me feel small in the best way. The roots go down so deep, and it makes for a well-fortified and sturdy tree. It, of course, didn't become strong on its own and neither do we. Jeremiah 17:7-8 says "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
As you sit under the tree:
• Share with God your current fears. Where does it feel hard to trust?
• What do you need to remember about God so that you can trust?
The Water (Matthew 14)
My favorite place in the world is by the water. I relax instantly staring at the water move but for some reason, the idea of sitting stranded in the middle of that same water brings angst. So many unknowns. It reminds me of life without God or without him. Same water. Same life. Totally different experience depending on my proximity to Him.
As you sit by the water:
• Ask the Lord what it would look like to do life every day with Him.
• Share with Him what areas of life you long to feel His presence most.
The Garden (Matthew 14)
It's really common to feel like we don't know what to say in prayer. That might be how you feel right now. :) The good news is that Jesus intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34, 1 John 2:1, Hebrews 7:25). Part of intercessory prayer is entering into someone else's pain and crying out to God on their behalf. And he doesn't pray as someone clueless to your pain. Gardens always remind me of Jesus praying the night before His death. He repeated a prayer three times. Mark says, "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." This is who we have by our side crying out to the Father when we don't have words.
As you pass through the garden:
• Reflect on Jesus' own pain and anguish. How does that make Him a trustworthy intercessor?
• Ask God to see your heart even if you don't have the words.