A Prayer to Grow Stronger, Part I: Roots

While some conceive God’s favorite answer is no, I’ve discovered it’s a resounding yes! God not only says yes to our life, but desires us to have an abundant one. Some of the richest biblical images for God involve life and growth. Perhaps my favorite is when Jesus describes himself as the vine, and we are the branches; we simply cannot flourish apart from him (John 15:5). As I seek to grow at God’s direction, as I look to deepen connections to my Source, I offer you this prayer that revolves around the different parts of a tree. Relevant stories illustrate each part and will ensue in the coming weeks. My hope is that we will flourish in our life and service by praying it.

Lord, help me to cultivate my roots in you. Gift my foundation with wisdom and my fruit with abundance. Guide me so that I bend, not fall, when the winds of life blow — for many are the benefits of life with you!
I began practicing yoga about seven years ago in order to stretch and strengthen. I soon discovered that balance is another one of its benefits. Yoga classes often include balancing poses. Tree pose is a popular and basic one. It entails finding a concentration point in the room and balancing on one foot. The other foot is often delicately tucked above the knee and against the groin. The arms are raised and fan out like the branches of a tree. Holding this position takes focus; when concentration wanes, the body often wobbles. Instructors encourage practitioners not to fight the wobbling, but rather to try rooting the standing foot into the ground even more intentionally. The concept of growing roots releases a stabilizing force.
In relationships and life, I’ve found the same to be true. I remember a particular conversation with my father one day when I was a college student. He wanted to impress upon me the importance of building a future marital relationship wisely. He explained that a healthy marriage, like a thriving tree, is dependent upon its root system. In order to grow strong and healthy, it’s what is under the soil that really counts. Faith enables a couple to draw upon support that is stronger than themselves; in essence, it enables them to prosper in good times and be fortified in tough ones.
It didn’t take long for me to discover the truth of his words. While I was dating my future husband, we experienced 9/11 as New Yorkers. We drew strength from the unique hope and uplift of regular church attendance during that trying time. Our faith cemented us together. We’ve since been married for over fifteen years. As I consider the challenges and changes we’ve weathered, root imagery still applies. The best metaphor to illustrate this is the palm tree. Its root system anchors the tree so that its flexible trunk will bend and not fall over amidst hurricane-force winds. As the winds of change have blown in our lives, and even as I wobble during yoga class, I’ve discovered the strength that can come from a good foundation.
While activity underneath the soil can better a marriage, it can also better a person. Roots have the capacity not only to anchor us, but to ensure a positive growth trajectory. Jesus’ parable of the sower illustrates this principle (Matthew 13:1-9). The sower discovers that the path, rocks, scorched ground, and thorns all threaten growth. When soil is fertile, however, roots develop and produce fruit one hundredfold. The hectic pace of culture, a desire to people-please, and empty worldly goals are not the fertile soil for building wise foundations. We need to root deeper to unearth the alternative scripture offers. It’s not just what we build, but how we build it that counts. {Tweet that.} As we cultivate fertile soil, our resultant fruit will be richer both in relationship and as individuals.

Next week features Part II of the prayer, which focuses on patience and is based upon the trunk of a tree...Stay tuned!


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