Friday, August 13, 2010

Psalm 63 Applied to Gethsemane Prayer Garden

There have been times when I've received questions something like, "This garden is beautiful, but why a 'Prayer Garden'?" Honestly, I have pondered that myself. Yet part of me wonders if they have experienced the garden, not just a lovely walk through the flowers. There is a peace, a serenity, in this garden. Psalm 63 begins,

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
(Psalm 63:1 NIV)

There is so much spiritual dryness in our stores, our schools, our places of employment, our roadways, our government, our neighborhoods, and sometimes even our houses. In response, we open our Bibles for a spiritual retreat, or turn on some wonderful worship music, or diligently seek our Lord in our prayer closet. David said it very succinctly, "my soul thirsts for you."

To me and to others, the Gethsemane Prayer Garden is more like a sanctuary than just a pretty garden. David continued in the second verse,

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
(Psalm 63:2 NIV)

Truly, we don't need a prayer garden to experience God's power and glory – after all, David is reported to have been in the Judean Desert when he wrote these words, a land parched with just inches of rain in a year. Yet in the same way that David found a personal sanctuary in the desert, so this garden is offered as a sanctuary in a spiritual desert. The flowers help remind us that this is a special place, a meeting place with God.

Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
(Psalm 63:3 NIV)

In the second verse, David was experiencing God's glory; now, in verse 3, David's presence with God's love has enabled him to turn this glory back to God. That's what this outdoor sanctuary can do: get our eyes off of the desert, get our eyes off of ourselves, and then give the glory back to our loving Lord.

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End Note: The overall theme for this series of articles is flowers and plants, showing how they point to love. Sometimes I write 'how to' do something, other times the emphasis is a status update, or the article will be about how a plant or flower touched my heart. All of these writings are based on plants from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden in Syracuse, NY. Please consider some of the other blog articles: Index of Articles About the Gethsemane Prayer Garden.