“Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (2:16-17).
Free choice necessitates an alternative to God’s desire and intent for connection. One restriction! All the trees, including the tree of life were given to invite connection. I often wonder what would be different had we chosen the tree of life?
This is another aspect in developing a lifestyle of prayer—daily eat of the fruit of the tree of life, rather than the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil! The tree of life especially reflects the divine image in the natural creation. From this perspective we see Eden as the central locale of God’s creation, the tree of life as a unique symbol of the divine image in the natural order, and prayer as an expression of the divine image placed in each of us—placed there to invite connection.
Too good to be true? Too simple? Adam and Eve thought so. There must be more required for connection with this Being that we occasionally notice in the garden! So they fell to the tempter’s deception of increased understanding and clarity, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (3:4-5). And see more clearly they did. They saw themselves and didn’t like what they saw—nakedness, vulnerability, inadequacy, self-doubt, and fear. They experienced their fear of God as coming from God’s self, this overwhelming Mystery. The contrast between their experience of self and their experience of the Holy was overwhelming. So they covered it up and went into hiding—hiding from the very God whose image they carried. Longingly, accompanied by an evening breeze, God walks into the garden, seemingly wishing connection, and finds them hiding and clothed. “Where are you?’ God asks. This new knowledge of good and evil—what they hoped would open their eyes—filled them with fear.
Holy God, as Your image bearer to those around me, I desire to reflect Your face, Your actions, and Your very Presence. May I eat daily of the fruit of the tree of life so that I am able to give Your life to others! Thank You for Jesus, who took away my sin and has allowed me to be an expression of Your life in a culture that so desperately needs a touch from You. I am so grateful that You created a way for Your creation to hear Your voice and to speak with You. Every moment spent in Your Presence draws me more deeply into Your dwelling place where I long to live continually.
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 34, Developing a Lifestyle of Prayer by Gerald Schmidt). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God as Jehovah-shammah, “the Lord who is there.” Thank God for his immediate and all-encompassing presence in your life (Psalm 139). Confess the times this past week when you have doubted the Lord’s presence or acted as though God were not surrounding you with his love and Spirit. Commit yourself to “practicing the presence of God” at all times. Ask him to give you signs of his presence every day this week.
Intercede for unborn children, that God’s hand will be on them even in the womb, protecting and encompassing them with his love.
“Prayer is the key that opens the door to all that is good in life.” —Anonymous
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.