Tomato Plant Prayers

Last week, my daughters and I spent a picture-perfect day outside planting in the garden.  As I pushed the dirt around each  of our tomato plants, I whispered a little prayer for God to bless it and let it grow strong and healthy to produce much fruit and to be protected from weather and pests (those nasty huge green worms that appear every year) and also to be protected from my ineptitude (I’m no expert gardener).

My daughter giggled at me.  “Why are you praying over a tomato plant, mom?”

I stopped to think.  Why was I praying over a tomato plant?  Earlier that very day, I had prayed for the names listed in my prayer journal.  For job decisions.  For financial help.  For needed housing.  For strength while caregiving.  For a broken marriage.  For children growing up with instability.  For a small girl with cancer.

Now, here I was just hours later, asking the God of the Universe to care about my tiny garden.  Did it seem presumptuous of me, selfish perhaps to think that the small things that mattered to me, mattered to God, as well?

Yet, I looked up into my daughter’s face and said, “God cares about us.  He cares about every little thing, so it’s okay for us to pray about all that is on our mind and heart, not just the big stuff.”

I believe that.  Sometimes we see God as too wrapped up in world affairs, global weather patterns, and hospital rooms to have time for the daily thoughts and concerns we face each day.  Somehow we think we’d just be wasting his time, taking His attention from those who really need His intervention if we prayed about “silly” little things.

Satan has great success defeating the prayer lives of Christians by making prayer seem so complicated.  He tells us prayer is hard and it has to be done a certain way and for a certain length of time.  He tells us we don’t pray as well as other Christians we know.  He tells us we are lacking and we fall short.  He tells us God doesn’t care about our concerns and needs because they are too insignificant for God’s notice.  So, with all of that pressure and the feeling that we simply can’t measure up, we sometimes don’t pray at all.

And yet, Scripture tells us to “pray continually” (1 Thes. 5:17).  It’s not that we need to quit our jobs and devote ourselves to on-our-knees intercession all day, every day.  It’s that our every thought and emotion can be turned over to God in prayer, living in continual conversation with a listening and caring God.

I am reminded that the Psalmist told me to “cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22) and Peter told us to “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).  Cast all my anxiety—-not just the big life-altering problems, but everything that puzzles my heart and occupies my thoughts.

Honestly, there have been few more stressful seasons for me than potty training my children.  Nothing made me feel quite so much a failure as those months of accidents and pleading and systems that didn’t work and children who refused.  God has endured many a potty-training prayer from this crazy mom and as silly as it sounds now in retrospect, those days were anxious for me; diapers and potty chairs were constantly on my mind.  I scoured the Internet for advice, talked to every mom I knew (who all had miraculously potty trained their children by 18 months with no effort, making me feel even worse), and spent an hour or more of my every day sitting on the bathroom floor singing Old MacDonald while trying to convince my child to keep sitting and trying while singing just one more verse of the song.  Old MacDonald’s farm for us was expansive, holding animals that didn’t even make noise (making the song difficult) and housing exotic breeds more often found in zoos than in an average barn.  But, if Old MacDonald needed an elephant in order for my child to use the potty, he got an elephant.

In a world where we are constantly reminded of need and hurt, when wars and revolutions are started everyday, when tornadoes and tsunamis wipe out homes and countries, when our email boxes fill up with prayer requests for the homeless and the sick, it may seem so foolish to lay at God’s feet the little things like tomato plants and potty training.

And yet, Isaiah 63:9 says, “In all their distress, He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them.  In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.”  Isaiah here is writing about how God carried Israel in the past.  During all those days in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan He delivered them from Pharaoh’s mighty army, He carried them across the Red Sea on dry ground, He gave them the Ten Commandments, but He also made sure they had food and water to drink and led them to an oasis to refresh them when they were weary.  He cared about every event and every need—big or small—that mattered to them.

About a week after I had knelt in the dirt to pray over my tomato plant, my daughter and I sat next to each other talking about a birthday party she was going to the next day.  I looked up the directions on the computer and realized that this family lived exactly in the middle of the hardest hit area of tornado damage from the storms a week before.  My daughter announced, “Well, my friend says that she could hear the storm and it went right by her, but they were okay.  I guess God knew she was having  a birthday party and didn’t want it to be ruined by her house being broken.”

Sweet innocent faith!  I had told her that God cares about every little thing, and she believed it.  If He cares about tomato plants, why not a birthday party?  If He cares about my daughters potty training, why not the worries on your mind?  Your decisions, your financial needs, your relationship problems, your job choices, your shopping list, your schedule for the day, whether your kids behave in the store (I have prayed that prayer many times).  Isn’t it one of those miraculous aspects of God’s nature that He cares about the big and small, the world events and the personal concerns, the global crises and the daily struggles?

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Now it’s your turn:

How have you learned to pray through your every day life?  Have you ever had a prayer breakthrough, something you learned that really changed your prayer life?  Please post a comment to share with others!!

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

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