A Place With a Purpose

Do you have a favorite place to pray? Since starting the Cross-Dubya in 2013, I’m discovering new places all the time. Something else I’m discovering is how vitally important prayer has become in my life. My prayer spots each have a purpose; some shared, others unique. The common link to all of them is the connection I make with God.

One of my favorite prayer spots is the small hill near the western edge of the ranch. I find myself here often at dawn during the warmer months, sitting atop the hill as the cattle graze quietly around me. It is a wonderful gift to share a peace-filled few moments during sunrise with the “Father of lights” (James 1:17). In those moments, He reminds me He never changes. Overlooking the ranch, I come here when I want to bask in His glory and behold His majesty, as I praise Him for all His blessings in my life.

Another is sitting under the pine trees near the barns and listening for God in the soft breeze that refreshes my body and soul. I come to this spot when seeking answers and guidance. Beyond inviting God to come sit with me, often encouraging my pal Bubba to “scooch over and make room for God buddy”, few words are spoken here. This place is where I listen for His direction in my life in response to requests I’ve made or things He wants me to do.

In the quiet pre-dawn hours that begin my day, I work through my family’s Prayer List in my den, Bible at the ready. While some requests such as family, our church, the nation, my Christian writing friends, etc. are constant. The list expands and contracts as God addresses each one. Some take much longer than others, but in faith, I know He answers each in His will. Facing east, overlooking our north and south pastures, words can’t describe the feeling as I lift my head from praying to see dawn breaking through the window.

A new place I discovered in the past year is off the reservation. I affectionately refer to it as “the Burden Lifter.” This is the place I go to with my burdened heart and I need to unload my fears, sorrows, and hurts onto God. It is the Prayer Garden at our church. Tucked away from buildings, it’s surrounded by a small fence, trees shrouding the garden with beautiful flora all around; it is a place of solitude and peace. Exquisitely maintained by a local company as a love offering, this special place seems designed as a place for every prayer need.

Sitting on a bench near the waterfall gives all a place for quiet meditation. To reflect upon the great price Christ paid for our freedom from sin is the crown-shaped gazebo. When a broken spirit needs healing, we can kneel at the crosses that symbolize how Jesus Christ was broken for our sins. A need to share with others in the fellowship of prayer may find you under the arbor. Seeking salvation? The old rugged cross stands ready to invite you to surrender all. Upon discovering this gem amid a bustling town, the inscription on the marker near its entrance helps you to understand why it is a consecrated place.

A VISION FROM GOD

ASCEND TO THE HEAVENS WITH ME
AND LOOK DOWN TO SEE THAT THE GARDEN
IS SHAPED AS THE CROSS
WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH THE GATE OF THE GARDEN
YOU ENTER AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS
AHEAD OF YOU THE GAZEBO REPRESENTS THE CROWN OF THORNS
A PLACE OF MINISTRY
TO THE RIGHT IS THE ARBOR, A PLACE OF FELLOWSHIP
TO THE LEFT ARE THE CROSSES, A PLACE OF BROKENNESS
I WANTED YOU TO SEE THE WALK THAT MY ONLY BEGOTTEN SON
TOOK FOR YOU
GOD

What I love best about this new prayer spot is how the church made it available to everyone. They do not lock it away only for the members of the church. There is no sign-up sheet or reservation needed. Instead, the garden, like the gospel message itself, invites all who need to come.

At the heart of genuine prayer is a humble spirit seeking connection with its creator, God. Click To Tweet

I hope you’ve seen there are many purposes for prayer, and there are just as many places (locations) where prayer can occur. If you’re ever near the intersection of Jackson and Jefferson in Sulphur Springs, Texas, consider the Prayer Garden at New Beginnings Fellowship Baptist Church. Wherever you pray, remember that it’s not about what you pray as much as it is about how you pray. Lost, broken, afraid, or alone; in whatever situation you need to pray about, seek God with a contrite heart and a humble spirit and He will meet you there.

God’s blessings,

 

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46 thoughts on “A Place With a Purpose

  1. I love all these spots! My favorite place is a comfy chair in my office surrounded by all the too many studies I’m doing and books I’m reading. It’s my favorite place to start the day with Jesus. I’ve also been prayer journaling. I’ve found it settles my mind and helps me focus deeper.

    1. That office chair sounds like a great place to “escape the world” and focus on God Ms. Karen. Isn’t starting our day with Jesus the best way to begin every day? I can’t wait to be able to walk in the garden or take a stroll down the streets of gold with Him my friend. I imagine being able to ask all those pesky questions about all the things I can’t know in this life, but have tried to accept by faith that I will one day understand. 🙂 God’s blessings gentle friend.

  2. My wonderful friend – thank you for sharing these sacred and beautiful places you pray. That garden sounds simply awe-inspiring and I can see how one can really connect with our Heavenly Father there. God bless you in each and every place.

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Ann. I feel so blessed to have been led here to this little piece of “God’s country” (as we call it). I suspect that God can be found my a great many in the midst of a bustling metropolitan, but for me, He chose to place me into a classroom filled with beauty, nature, peace, and tranquility. For some, He must fill them with that. In my case, He chose to surround me with it. 🙂 God’s blessings.

  3. So many places to pray, and so many reasons to connect with God in our daily routines, J. D. The garden at your church sounds so beautiful and inviting to all who need to reflect upon all the Lord has done and what He continues to do in our lives.
    You do remind us, too, that there is no one place where we must go to link up with God – He is everywhere with us, just waiting for us to make that first move.
    Blessings!

  4. So beautifully said. I knew you must have great places on the ranch to pray. They sound wonderful. And how amazing your church has a prayer garden. You don’t hear about that every day. Unless I’m on a walk outside and pray, I normally pray inside the house.

    My favorite thing in this piece is this: “At the heart of genuine prayer is a humble spirit seeking connection with its creator, God.”

    1. Yes! I’m learning that the “place” matters little, because prayer isn’t a physical connection, but a spiritual one. The connection is made in our hearts. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us Ms. Karen.

  5. I very much enjoyed reading about these favorite prayer places of yours. My favorite spot is my patio. From it, I have a nice view of my neighbor’s pond and the wooded corner of my backyard. I can find a sunny spot on cold days and a shady spot on warm days. There my mind and heart feel wide open to commune with God as I observe the beauty that He has created.

    1. Oh, how you paint such a serene picture Ms. Terri. I think that would be one of my favorite places too. When my dad was living with us here in TX, he would love to get away by himself at the patio table underneath the carport. I think perhaps, that was his special place for prayer and meditation. After about an hour, I would go “find” him, and often find him with a peaceful countenance and soft smile. But many times, I would find him resting comfortably. I loved how he would find peace enough to rest in the Lord around our place – even though he made it abundantly clear that Texas was NOT his home.

    1. I understand the car completely Ms. Jeanne. It’s the place where I can sing off-key (that’s the only way I know how), where I can laugh, cry, and bear my soul to God. I’m always amazed at how when I am “in the moment” with Him (I call it “prayer driving”), His spiritual awareness provides me with the situational awareness I need to avoid drivers running stop signs, etc. as He keeps me safe when spending time with Him. Great comments ma’am. Thank you!

  6. I love this, J.D. I, too have special prayer places. One of my favorites is the walking trails at the Cove and Ridgecrest during writers conferences. Somehow, surrounded by writers and the beauty of nature, I hear God more clearly and often find much-needed direction and clarity. Blessings to you, my friend!

    1. I’ve been wanting to prayer walk those very trails Ms. Lori. Perhaps one day, the timing will all be right and I’ll be able to join you at the Ashland or Blue Ridge conferences. Both have been on my “must attend” list for a few years now. Alas, covid. God’s blessings ma’am; and I’m so excited to be getting several copies of your latest book, “Refresh Your Prayers” after its release in March.

  7. Sorry to be a little late getting to this one, Brother, but so encouraged (again) that I did. God connects with us in lots of ways, but prayer is one that we get to control. He instructs us to do it, promises to meet with us when we do, encourages us with incredible testimonies of its impact on lives when it’s infused with faith, (Hebrews 11) but then leaves it up to us to decide when, where, how long, how often we do it–and even whether we do it at all. I admire the way you arrange your favorite prayer spots in categories, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who reads this thinking, “I really ought to take a second look at my prayer life and do some arranging like that, too.” Jesus was quite often (if not always) selective about the location and context when He engaged His disciples and/or others about important stuff. Prayer is a priceless privilege and a primary connection that we have with God. It’s also one that He cherishes, but He doesn’t force it. He graciously allows us to determine what we’ll do with the privilege He offers. God bless you, my friend. You’ve managed once again to blend inspiration and conviction–two ingredients of change that we need more of.

    1. Love your perspective Mr. Ron. “Prayer is one we get to control”, in that we are the one to choose to humbly approach His throne of grace aren’t we? Yet, I find myself longing for prayer, suffering withdrawal symptoms if you will, when I go too long without making that connection. I’ve tried to adopt the concept of “Saving My Amen” so that I walk throughout my day in an ongoing conversation with God, but if I’m honest, there are times when I wish that God didn’t hear/know what I’m thinking, saying, or doing. Perhaps that’s why the idea of Coram Deo (we live our lives before the eyes of God) is so important to remember. Not that God wants us to mind our Ps and Qs so much, as to remind us that when we fail (and we all do), He is but a prayerful thought away from reconnecting/re-strenghtening that connection with us. Great points my friend. Thank you for always endeavoring to sharpen my sir. Preshate y’all. 😀

  8. My favorite place is when I am out in nature, hiking or walking. But, I pray anywhere and everywhere. I pray many people find such wonderful spots to speak to their souls.

  9. I love that you have so many places to pray, and that you pray faithfully. God will reward you with answered prayers.

    1. Thank you Ms. Edwina. He certainly does answer ma’am. It’s always such a blessing to pause for a few quiet moments at the end of each day and recount all the ways in which He has blessed our little ranch, and how greatly He blesses our lives ma’am. I pray you find those same blessings sweet friend.

  10. Sounds like you’ve found some little pieces of heaven around you. I like being in nature when I pray – taking long walks through the woods is where I feel closest to Him.

    1. Yes ma’am; there’s nothing quite like getting lost in God’s natural world when steeped in prayer is there. I sometimes wonder if when we’re in those moments if this is what it must have been like before the fall of man. To walk through the garden, sharing with God all along the way.

  11. The prayer garden at your church is a wonderful outreach to the community. Having a unique focus for different prayer spots gives a tangible spiritual anchor to each location. I think Catholics do something similar with “stations of the cross. “ For a long time I’ve thought about doing something like that for the circuit around my back garden, with a sign or symbol attached in each area. Just never “got around to it. “ (Pardon the pun ) It’s wonderful to know the Lord meets us whenever and wherever we approach His throne in prayer.

  12. Nothing like being able to pray in the midst of God’s creation. The hilltop sounds serene and the garden sounds inspiring. I have found the beach to be a place of solace listening to God announce each wave that hits the sand. But much of the time, it’s me in my trusty flowered prayer chair next to the window. We’ve had some soul-searching, loving, and revealing conversations in that chair. It’s nice to know God always has His appointment book open for me even in the middle of the night.

    1. I too have been blessed to pray while sitting atop the white sands of Florida beaches, losing myself in the expanse of the ocean or gulf before me. All of God’s created natural world invites us to join with Him there in proclaiming our love for one another ma’am. I remind myself often that God loved mankind enough to have made all this natural beauty for us. He wants us to see Him in the world around us that He created. Great thoughts ma’am. As for the flower-covered chair? I can picture myself standing afar off, peering through that window to see you nestled into your chair, Bible in hand, cup of tea steeping on the small round table beside you. While the lamp doesn’t overpower the room, it casts a basking glow that seems to highlight the Words you are holding in your lap. I watch your head bow in humble adoration as you connect with God in the comfort of your home. I imagine your pouring out your heart in prayer for Mr. Parky, your sweet mama, the friends you care for so deeply, the animals you are working to place in forever homes, and of course, those two rascals O’Malley and Rio that you would gladly lay down your life for, as they would you. What a peaceful view into the world of a devoted and dear Christian sister. God’s blessings sweet soul.

  13. You do have a beautiful place to connect with God on your ranch. You are surrounded by His creation. The garden at your church sounds so wonderful and what a gift it is to all who choose to worship there. One of my favorite places to pray at my home is in my swing out in the yard. I can enjoy the stillness, hear the birds, and listen to the Father. Thanks for sharing your place.

    1. Thank you Ms. Barb. I can just picture you swinging softly, one foot pushing you backward ever so slightly, as you are reading, praying, and seeking God. Can’t you just smell the pines in the air now ma’am? Thank you for sharing yours also. I pray you are back in that swing soon ma’am.

  14. A mile and a half from my home, there is the most wonderful park system that runs for miles and miles throughout the county. It is an amazing retreat nestled in the midst of the city. It has bridle trails, walking paths, nature centers, just to name a few amenities. I find myself going to the area often to walk and pray. In the spring you can hear the birds singing their songs and smell the fresh earth. Sometimes I will take a book and lawn chair and sit in one of the picnic areas and read. It is one of my favorite places to commune with the Lord.

    1. Sounds like a wonderful place for a getaway Ms. Cindy. When I worked near Chicago, I remember the Park Districts there. Trails, lakes, and lots of opportunity for communing with nature. For all the years I worked there, I would guess I visited them only a handful of times. One place I remember fondly though, was a small city part along the banks of the Fox River in St. Charles. It was a quiet, serene place where I could talk with God about all the changes happening in my life after moving there. I hope you and Mr. Dan are able to get to your nearby park often ma’am. Sometimes it feels as though I’m nestled right in the middle of one here, but I am the entire maintenance crew. 😀

  15. The inscription on that garden is just beautiful. My favorite spot to read and pray is on the couch in our family room. There I can look out and watch the sunrise, our trees, and our yard. In years passed, it truly was in my car as I drove my kids to school each day, and then often in the school parking lot as I waited for their dismissal. I am so grateful we can pray in so many varied places and the Lord meets us right where we are.

    1. Isn’t it wonderful when we just allow ourselves to “get lost in God” in those peaceful surroundings Ms. Joanne? Thank you so much for painting a peaceful picture with your words ma’am; and for sharing it with all of us. God’s blessings.

  16. A beautiful and inspiring message, my friend. You encourage me to expand my prayer life. Like you, I love to be out in God’s creation when I meditate and pray. I love the prayer garden at your church, what a peacful and comforting place to talk with God. You’ve encouraged me to be more intentional in my prayer life. Thank you and may God bless you.

  17. This is beautiful. I’m thankful we can go to the Father and share conversation with Him at any time and place. Your description of the prayer garden reminded me how God gives us glorious places to pray. Whether in the house or outside, we can go to the Father. Thank you J.D. for always touching my heart and soul

  18. What beautiful spots for meeting with God, J.D. There are so many ways and reasons to meet with God. Praise Him that Christ opened that way for us to come into His presence whenever and wherever we need to. I pray this month will bring you great blessing!

    1. Yes ma’am; there certainly are ma’am. Honestly, as I am seeing by so many wonderful comments from our friends here, I don’t the location of the meeting is nearly as important as the condition of our heart as we enter into that conversation with God. Great thoughts sweet friend.

  19. Once again, your mention of something in your blog is exactly the inspiration I need for fiction. I have a character who is a welder who is asked by the pastor to fashion a gate for their, that’s right … prayer garden! He is not a believer … until he affixes the gate on its hinge and walks through it into the garden. Convicted, he begins to pray and discovers the real Gate. Jesus. Thank you for laboring in prayer before the Father for so many, JD.

    1. How about that Ms. Mary. You also, once again, confirmed that we who are in Christ are indeed of one body, and one mind apparently. And yes, our church’s Prayer Garden has a black, welded fence with a gate. I pray you find an opportunity to travel on I-30 through Sulphur Springs, Texas one day so you can see it and experience it for yourself. While Sulphur Springs is not my hometown, it’s one many would love to adopt I think. You’ll love the Square with the majestic courthouse featuring Austin stone masonry, the Veteran’s memorial, and yes, their world-famous mirrored restrooms. Of course, I and our church would be so honored to take you on a tour of the Prayer Garden, meet our Naomi and Ruth group, and so many others. I bet you would be a big hit reading a story of the kiddos on Sunday morning with our friend Suzy Q. Thank you, and God’s blessings sweet friend.

  20. J.D., I enjoyed picturing your special prayer spots. I can remember specific places throughout my life. Because I sit more since becoming a writer, I now like to walk when I pray. I find moving helps me focus. So God meets us when we seek Him.

    1. How very true Ms. Debbie. Wherever we might be when we reach out to God in prayer, when we are earnest and honest in our effort, He comes to us. I don’t walk nearly as much as I used to, but I still love to stroll down the 500-ft. driveway to the mailbox or to check the water in the front pastures now and again. And yes, when we’re surrounded by God’s natural world, it’s always a great time to reach out to God – even if it’s just to say “Thank You Lord for giving me this day. I love you.” Thank you so much for commenting sweet friend; and praying you many blessings during a rest-filled week.

  21. Such beautiful prayer spots! I love how you have special places for different needs. Your church’s prayer garden sounds incredible–what a wonderful idea to invite the public into a place where one can experience all aspects of the gospel message. My favorite place to commune with the Lord has always been while I’m driving, and I also talk to Him while I take long walks. Blessings, dear brother!

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Karen. I too have prayed in my car many times. I often drive alone and when I plug my iPhone into my pickup and let the worship music fill the cab, I am often overwhelmed with emotion and find myself in the midst of prayer and praise. Those are special, and sometimes soul-cleansing, moments for sure. I don’t do too many long walks these days, but oh how I love to pray outside while doing chores, etc. Wherever and whenever we pray, I like to think God is smiling when He hears our voice as we humbly approach His throne. I often form a picture in my mind when I start to pray of a little fella climbing onto his grandfather’s lap. As the kindly old fella wraps the little guy in a warm embrace, all of his fears and worries melt away. There remains only love. God’s blessings my sweet and gentle friend.

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