Praying at the Intersection of Creation and Creator

51TPk7fk1CLI didn’t know there was a technical term to describe the way I’ve been enjoying God these last four years, but there is. And I like it.

In the book Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas describes nine ways Christians draw near to God in worship. One  approach is not better than the rest, but some come more naturally to us than  others.  My wife pegged me right away when she read the chapter on what Thomas calls Naturalists: “God will speak to us through creation if we will only listen. If you feel like your time in front of books or listening to sermons has become stagnant, grab a coat, pick up a walking stick, and step outside into the school that never closes” (p. 47). He later puts it this way: “For the true Christian Naturalist, creation is nothing less than a sanctuary, a holy place that invites you to prayer” (p. 53).

My approach to Sabbath is that of a Naturalist. On my weekly walks with God, I intentionally put myself in places where nature points me to Him. I have seen groves of trees and shady canyons turned into natural sanctuaries, places of worship that are more beautiful than any cathedral.

I like being a Naturalist, and I know I’m not the only one. Might you be one? If so, I’d like to share with you a shortened version of a prayer that launched my Sabbath hike in the hills north of our town last Saturday (the picture below is from that hike). I hope this will encourage my fellow Naturalists to embrace their identity – and possibly move others to explore it for themselves.

“Lord, I choose to be here with you today, in this place, at this time. I can’t think of any place I would rather be.

I choose the cool breeze over air conditioning.

I choose to walk on dirt instead of driving on asphalt.

I’d rather have a walking stick in my hand than a remote control, and I prefer the singing of the birds over the noise of the television. Those flowers are far more beautiful than my living room carpet.

I’m glad there is no roof between me and the rain. It feels good on my skin.

I choose to be here, because you meet me here. Surrounded by your creation, overwhelmed by your artistry, I stand in awe of you.

I choose to be here, because nature teaches me about you. Your invisible attributes, your eternal power and divine nature, can be clearly seen here – they are understood through what has been made. Nature has been revealing truth about you since the creation of the world.

Today, it’s my turn to be the student. And I can’t wait to learn more about you.

So as I head out into the beauty that you made, strolling through this canvas that is covered by your brushstrokes, I have a simple prayer.

Please walk with me, Lord. Teach me about yourself. Draw near to me, as your handiwork helps me to draw near to you.

I choose to be here, at the intersection of creation and Creator.

I can’t think of anyplace I would rather be.”

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About Sabbath Thoughts

My name is Mike Gaston. I am a former missionary, a Shepherding Pastor at Heights Church in Prescott, AZ, a happy husband, a spoiled father of two daughters, a proud grandfather, and a recently-convinced pursuer of the benefits of intentional, regular, contemplative, Christ-centered rest. This blog will allow me to share thoughts about Sabbath, as well as thoughts about God and the Christian life that come out of my restful Sabbath moments.
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8 Responses to Praying at the Intersection of Creation and Creator

  1. Kathy Clark says:

    That is really beautiful, Mike, thank you

  2. Penny Burch says:

    Hi Mike, not long ago I asked God to show me how creation revealed His majesty . What God showed me was life. From the tress to the flowers, to the bugs that crawl and fly, to the very air itself I saw life . I have appreciated the beauty and power of creation but I did not see that it was alive. Thank you so much for sharing your Sabbath with us all.

  3. Megan Heavens says:

    Thanks for sharing Mike. Your heart shows the humility and child-likeness we, at Grace, so quickly came to love. Thank you, so much, for sharing the name of that book! I’ll have to get that because I’ve always respected your Sabbath walks, but the idea of being out in nature is just not my cup of tea. 🙂 The snakes…my word…the snakes!

    • Thanks for your encouraging words, Megan. I think you will enjoy the book, but if you want to explore Sabbath more specifically, the best one I’ve read is The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. He looks at Sabbath from all kinds of perspectives, and suggests a wide variety of ways to experience it. I think you would get a lot out of it.

  4. Nehsa Russell says:

    Beautiful prayer pastor Gaston.

  5. Chris Abbott says:

    I’m a naturalist, too. Thanks for sharing Mike. I’m feeling the need for more nature time with the Lord; it’s a bit harder to go out alone as a woman. But even neighborhood walks with the dog can be small sabbath moments.

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