Prayer Tree

Philippians 1: 4

[A]lways offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all.

A funny thing happened on the way to a tree. My biking partner and I have a course we ride regularly. This lovely tree is along that course. One day, during a spring ride, the idea came to me to pray every time I went under this tree. I agreed with Father and began praying as I went out and again as I returned. As summer progressed, our time over this course got faster and faster. We had a goal, though, that we had not yet reached. So, one day when my riding buddy couldn’t ride, I determined to try to best our fastest time and reach that goal.

The ride began smoothly and at a good pace. The tree is in the early part of the ride. I prayed as I went under it. All was well. It got interesting on the way back. I was chasing the time goal and working pretty hard to reach it. By the time I got to the tree I was working hard and breathing hard. I could see the tree looming in the distance ahead. To myself, rather than aloud, due entirely to a lack of breath, I said, “I’m not going to pray this time because I need my air.” Okay, no! No sooner did I complete the thought, in fact, before it was fully formed in my mind, I heard a resounding, “No.” Our father was part of the initial bargain that I would pray each time I rode my bike under that tree and He meant to speak to this latest decision. The decision, it turns out, was not mine alone to make.

There may be many messages to take from this little story. The one which immediately occurred to me was, “He is a jealous God.” I gave Him an oath. Though it was not made in any formalized or ritualized setting or fashion, it was, nonetheless, a promise, a declaration of fealty, in fact, it was an oath. It was also an offering, a prayer offering. It calls to my mind the Old Testament offerings we read about. Though it had none of the formality, it was the same to Father. Did I really want to remove my offering from the altar? Of course not and He saved me from doing just that.

I could go on about the offering and covenant but there is another, more modern expression too. This little event, which turned out to be a be not such a little thing, is reflective of the life intertwined with the Trinity that Jesus taught and is forever leading us deeper into. It is reminiscent of a partnership. Once I forged that bargain with the Father, He was an interested party with a vote, in this case, the deciding vote. We are partners and I should not make unilateral decisions. I should consult my partner, or as they would have written in the Old Testament, I should inquire of the Lord.

You may have been waiting to see what today’s verse would teach us. For myself, it was the word, “always.” The verse does not say, I will pray as I promised but only when I feel like it. It says to me, every time you ride under that tree, you shall pray. And, by the way, I did pray and I did make my speed goal. Hmm, I wonder if the two are connected.