Praying Because We Care, and Caring Because We Pray

I am a habitual garden-killer.

In the past 5 years, everything from tomatoes to cucumbers to cilantro to corn has met its demise at my hand. In almost all of these cases, the death of these herbs and vegetables did not come from violence, but instead came through neglect.

I harbor no ill-will towards plants; in fact, I really like them. That’s why the idea of a garden has been so appealing to me. The idea of going outside, picking something off a plant or vine, and then eating it, is great in my mind. But the knowledge that seeing those proverbial fruits comes only after a couple of months of vigilance is not quite as exciting.

It’s the same thing every day – water the plants. Spray the plants. Weed around the plants. And if that’s not enough, it’s recognizing there are hundreds of critters who are more excited about my budding vegetation than I am. So then it’s build the fence. It’s repair the fence. It’s watch the fence for any sign of weakness. So throughout the last five years, I’ve come to the inescapable conclusion that though I wanted to have a garden, I didn’t care enough to put in the work for it.

Until this year. And this year, I got a head start, because the previous owner of our family’s home had built raised garden beds. There was already the makings of a fence there. It seemed like a terrible waste not to do anything with it. So even though I didn’t care about it that much when I started, we weeded out the garden. We repaired the holes in the fence. We tilled all the soil.

And a funny thing happened – with every single drop of sweat, I found myself caring more and more about this plot of earth.

Now I suppose that for a lot of people, it works the opposite way – they cared in advance, and the care is what drove them to action. But either way, the action is happening.

In fact, it’s a bit like a circle. Each time you do that activity, you care a little bit more. And when you care a little bit more, you keep doing the things that must be done.

Perhaps gardening isn’t the only thing like that – maybe prayer works a little like that, too. There are, of course, some things or people you care very much about. It’s that care that drives you to your knees. You love them, and out of your love, you petition God on their behalf, over and over again. But sometimes it happens the opposite way.

You don’t care about that person. Or at least you don’t care as much as you ought to. So you begin to pray, and with each petition you find your affection and care beginning to grow.

You pray because you care, and then you care because you pray. It’s a beautiful circle, isn’t it? And the simplicity is perhaps the most beautiful part…

If you care deeply for someone, then you should pray.

If you don’t care deeply enough for someone, then you should pray.

And in either case, the result is that your affection is deepened as you continue to life them before God’s throne.

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