By Lynne M. Baab —
What’s your favorite place in nature? A beach, the mountains, a lake, a meadow? What’s your favorite aspect of nature? Flowers, reflective water, a specific kind of animal, a tree?
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how we can pray more deeply for God’s creation and how we can feel like we are walking with Jesus when we care for creation. I’ll give you some ideas here, and you can see more of them in the online Lenten devotional I co-wrote for our church last year.
Gratitude and praise. Thankfulness prayers are deeply appropriate – and even foundational – when we pray about God’s creation. We don’t have to look very far to find things to praise and thank God for when we look at the beauty of flowers, trees, hills, mountains, lakes, oceans, clouds, and thousands of other manifestations of God’s creativity and beauty.
Lament. We also don’t have to look very far in God’s creation to feel upset about damage to the beauty of the world God created so intricately and carefully. Lament prayers express sadness, grief, anger and frustration. We tell God what we’re upset about. Lament prayers are appropriate in so many areas when we see or think about environmental degredation.
Confession and assurance of pardon. If you’re like me, and you feel guilt about not engaging in creation care as much as you’d like to, or as much as you’ve felt led to, God invites you to bring those thoughts and feelings into a prayer of confession. God always forgives us and gives us a fresh start.
Intercession. Prayers of intercession for creation are appropriate in so many areas. So many people are involved in aspects of caring for God’s creation. So many people create policy that impacts the earth. Where can we start in our prayers?
I’d suggest picking something you love in nature, and think about all the scientists who do research in that area, all the people who are involved in taking care of that part of God’s creation, all the policy makers who make decisions that have an impact on that part of nature, and all the ordinary people whose decisions have an effect on that part of nature you love. Pray for those people and for God’s continued sustenance and care of the beautiful earth.
To deepen prayers for creation care, I suggest reading Psalm 103 and 104, and then praying the words to both psalms. They can be read as a pair, each reflecting one of God’s major roles in human history.
Psalm 103 focuses on God the Redeemer, and if you confess your sins about anything, including not caring for creation as well as you should, you’ll find joy and assurance from God in the words of Psalm 103. If you read it, notice how many nature analogies are used to make the points in the psalm.
Psalm 104 focuses on the way that God sustains the plants and animals. And humans! I find it delightful.
“O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures. . . .
These all look to you
to give them their food in due season;
when you give to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.” (Psalm 104:23, 27, 28)