Jesus Goes into Nature to Pray

Useful for Revised Common Lectionary A-14

In Matthew 14 we are told that Jesus went up the mountain to pray by himself after the feeding of the multitude. Jesus going into the natural world who pray is mentioned many times in Scripture. Given the fact that it was recorded in the Gospels it must’ve been an important in the life of Jesus.

Jesus begins his ministry with his long solo retreat in the wilderness which traditionally is placed outside of Jericho for 40 days. We need to remember the word wilderness in the holy land refers to dry rocky desolate places. Mountain terrain also was also mostly dry with some trees 

Creation also goes by the names of environment and nature.  It was the first creation after the planet earth came into being in this section of the cosmos. Some refer to it as the first incarnation of God and most understand it to be revelatory of God the Creator. Humankind began in the natural world which the Bible refers to as a Garden. People learned of God and how to live a godly life through their observation and encounters with the natural world.

Time alone in the natural world was important to Jesus and he set an example for us. Luke 6 tells us that Jesus went up the mountain and spent the whole night there alone in prayer. I think we can assume these times alone in prayer in the natural world offer Jesus the opportunity for deep communion with God who he referred to as Abba. Luke goes to say that when he came back down to Sea of Galilee it was then that he called his twelve apostles.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the important traditionally took place on Mount Tabor. Of course this is the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. It was here that Jesus was confirmed in his ministry and given the courage and strength to face the difficulties a head assured of God’s presence in his life. 

When Jesus senses that his life is in grave danger he goes to nature to pray alone among the trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Once again in this alone time in the natural world and in communion with Abba he is prepared to face his death. 

 As Christians, of course, we attempt to live following his example in being a loving, caring, compassionate, non-judge mental person. In following the Way of Jesus we probably should also consider spending more time in nature finding “joy and wonder in all of God’s works” and in communion with God. 

Go to nature and be renewed in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Thoughts for discussion and/or reflection:

1.  Have thee been times you have “gone to nature” to prayer?  Where?  Under what circumstances? 

2.  What are ways that you find inspiration in Creation?

3.  Have you ever thought about Jesus going into Nature to prayer before?  Why or why not?