Christian reflection meditation in nature is a powerful way to receive insight about life from God through the things that you see and experience in nature. In this meditation process, you create time and mental space to seriously think about and ponder some aspect of your life, your faith or your relationship with God and others. Here are some simple steps to hearing from God using Christian reflection meditation in nature.
What is Christian reflection meditation?
Reflection is defined as giving serious thought to things as you consider them.
Not cut and dried, logic driven by our own reasoning powers. Christian reflection meditation is the opposite of the usual decision making process that occupies much of our task oriented thought process where we gather facts, weigh options, imagine likely outcomes and make a decision based on likelihood and experience.
Is a creative, imaginative, intuitive, personal experience aided by the Holy Spirit. Reflection happens on a deeper level where you ponder the meaning of life and discover the connectivity between yourself and God and his world. In Christian reflection you open yourself to the teachable moments that God places in front of you as you enjoy moments in nature.
The sorts of things that might happen between God and you during Christian reflection meditation in nature include seeing things that help give you perspective on your past or your own shortcomings. Or you might gain new insight into your emotional struggles or find new strength for your life challenges.
Here are the basic steps to Christian meditation reflection in nature.
Step 1: Say everything you want to say to God before you start your reflection so you won’t keep saying things to God but will instead be able to look, listen, reflect and discover.
The best way to prepare for Christian reflection meditation in nature is to make sure that you have already done your intercessory prayer time beforehand. Intercessory prayer centers around asking God to meet your needs or the needs of others. One the biggest roadblocks to Christian meditation is using all of our time to describe our problems to God which leaves little or no time to hear back from him.
Of course intercessory prayer extremely important because God tells us to ask for what we need. One technique of doing your intercessory prayer work beforehand is to do it on the go. Consider making it a habit to cover your daily prayer list while doing other things, such as exercising or driving to work. I call this pathway prayer. Take a look at this article for more ideas on how to pray on the go.
I personally combine my intercessory prayer time with my morning exercise routine where I do a 2 mile walk around our neighborhood the first thing in the morning. This takes about an hour and by the time I’m finished, I have been able to cover a large amount of prayer needs for myself, my family, my church and our world. This clears the way for reflection time later.
Step 2: Plan your place and time for Christian reflection meditation in nature
You will be using nature both as your sanctuary and your teacher connecting you to God. Nature gives you a very different sort of environment where you get away from the business of your normal life. Being out in nature helps you gains perspective. It offers simplicity, fresh air, sunshine and peace and quiet for your time of thinking deeply about life.
I’m not sure why nature connects so easily with us, but I suspect it has something to do with the thought of seeing God in a very visible way as Creator. Maybe that’s why as you expose yourself to the sensations of nature, God’s Holy Spirit is able to show you unexpected lessons through the natural world around you.
So when you go about starting your Christian meditation reflection in nature, you will want to pick a place and a time when you will be free from interruptions and distractions.
You will also need to find a small area of nature to explore. The outdoor place doesn’t have to be large nor does it necessarily need to be scenic or rustic. Your own backyard can be a good place. A field, a garden, even a quiet residential road in a neighborhood with front yards can serve just as well. Or you can choose a church yard, a small park or a nature trail.
Just be sure it’s somewhere you feel safe being alone. And always have your cell phone in your pocket for safety and also to take a photo to remember something you see that God uses to speak to you.
Go alone, dress comfortably, turn off your cell phone ringer, take a walk or head for a bench or a rock to sit on.
And don’t make the mistake of waiting for perfect weather. A rainy day under an umbrella can be a great opportunity for new perspective. Or a winter day when the trees are bare can give you longer sight lines toward the horizon that you can’t see in the summer.
Step 3: Wordlessly bring yourself and your life to God and open your senses to God’s presence.
Step into nature with your senses attuned to the natural world and the great God behind it all. Be absolutely present in the moment, laying aside your usual mental chatter and turning off the way your mind naturally defaults to your biggest worry or problem when you have a quiet moment.
There are two different approaches you can take as you enter reflection in nature.
The first approach is to enter with a specific life question in mind. Don’t enter this with an urgent problem that has to be solved this very minute. Rather enter this time as a starting point for some new insight, assurance or peace from God that might have bearing on a life question.
The second approach is to enter with no specific question in mind but instead to simply enter open to whatever God chooses as the subject he’d like to communicate with you about during this time of mediation. It could be anything – your values, your direction, your feelings, your relationships, how God works in the world. The list is endless and is unique to this moment in time between God and you.
Step 4: Look, seek, reflect, find
During this meditation the journey itself is the destination. Allow yourself to fully participate in the process of sensing and taking in nature. Use your eyes and ears, your sense of smell and touch. Engage your imagination, your curiosity, your thirst for beauty and symmetry, your enjoyment of color, the sensations of hot and cold, your ability to sense novelty and wonder.
When something catches your attention, stop and look at it. Allow God’s Holy Spirit to show you something about it that relates to you or your life.
Don’t try to force things, simply go with the flow. Walk with God and be present with him.
When I am doing Christian meditation reflection in nature, something always comes to me. Often it’s not a new thought that I’ve never had before but rather a new object lesson that is a visible way to reinforce some ongoing thing that God has been working with me on, such as patience or trust.
I’ve also found that if you do the same Christian meditation reflection in nature walk over time, God may speak to you using the same item that changes over time. For instance there’s an ornamental flowering cherry tree in a neighbor’s yard that I pass on the meditation part of my morning prayer walk. One day I noticed that one of the twigs was snapped but still clinging to the tree and it still had sad little yellow leaves on it. I first noticed it during a time when I was having difficulty hanging in on a prayer for healing that wasn’t being resolved. Every day that little twig became a touch point for me, somehow giving me hope.
When all of the leaves fell off the tree, I realized that the little branch fit in quite well, because the whole tree was dormant. No one knew whether it was strong enough to produce big healthy leaves or little puny ones. This spoke to me about seasons in life, about the universality of struggle and about how God sees us all the same, even when we feel different and inferior.
Jesus went to lonely places in nature to pray
The Bible tells us that Jesus used nature as a place to slip away for prayerful perspective. The Bible says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35 NIV
When the disciples came looking for him because all of the people in town wanted Jesus to come back and do more healings, Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else- to the nearby villages- so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Mark 1:38)
Apparently while Jesus was out in nature by himself, his next step in his overall ministry became clear to him. We don’t know exactly how this direction came to him. This is simply using a big of imagination, but could he have possibly seen a field ready to be harvested? After all, later Jesus said in his ministry, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:36 NIV) Obviously no one knows for sure how Jesus came to his decision to go to another village while he was out in nature. But it’s an interesting idea to ponder.
Examples in the Bible of Christian meditation reflection in nature
There are countless examples of lessons learned from nature that point out spiritual truths. Jesus often used examples from nature to instantly reveal new perspectives. Since much of his teaching took place out in the open air, we might imagine that people could actually see what Jesus was talking about.
For instance Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26 NIV)
Several years ago I learned about the mind boggling bird migration that happens over the tiny land of Israel. According to recent scientific tracking, Israel is in one of the most travelled bird migration route in the whole world. It’s estimated that 500 million birds fly over Israel twice a year! These days it’s an ongoing problem for aviation.
Imagine those listening to Jesus speak observing the sky darkened by legions of migrating birds and Jesus giving this profound statement. Watching the birds we would instantly realize that so many birds would strip bare any place they landed. And yet God somehow miraculously feeds them. What a powerful lesson from nature about not worrying but instead depending on God to supply our needs!
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Video example of using Christian reflection in nature
Copyright Karen Barber 2017. All rights reserved.