Outdoor Living: Where is your Prayer Tree?

Tall Pine
I come from the Land of the Pines.


Visit our Creekbank YouTube Channel to view Curt reading “Outdoor Life.”

Listen to an Audio Podcast of “Outdoor Life.”


Outdoor Living: Where is Your Prayer Tree?

Years ago, I visited two of my sweetest friends, Phil and Trelvis Thomas. They lived north of Leesville on Mrs. Trelvis’ family homestead.

After coffee, Mrs. Trelvis led me to a nearby woods and pointed out a stately old, longleaf pine. She pointed to a weathered bench. “Curt,  this was my mother’s prayer tree. It was her place to start the day with the Lord—under this prayer tree—just her, the Lord, and a cup of hot coffee.”  

Mrs. Trelvis smiled. “It’s now my prayer tree. It’s where I come to meet with God.”

I touched the bark, knowing old-growth longleafs often live over 150 years. I wondered about its life story and Mrs. Trelvis’ mother.

My friend gave me a great gift that day: the gift of her prayer tree. 

It’s a gift I now pass on to you. 

It’s also a gift you can give yourself: a personal prayer tree.

 A place to meet alone with God.

* * *

One of my favorite verses, Psalm 46:10, was written by an outdoorsman named David:  “Be still and know that I am God.” 


We need a still-lonely place where we can find solitude.

A place to meet with God.

* * *

I heard Author T.W. Hunt share this at Dry Creek Camp: 

“Sometimes I have trouble remembering that God is right there with me in my quiet time. On this particular day on my patio, I struggled with feeling God’s presence. 

“I did something strange: I took two cups of hot coffee out to the patio and pulled up a second chair. I prayed,  ‘Lord, I need to feel especially close to you today. I want to invite You to sit right here and enjoy a cup of coffee with me.’”

Dr. Hunt smiled as he finished his story,  “God was already there. I just needed a visible reminder.” 

I’ve shared his story dozens of times.  I ask folks where they go for their quiet time with God. It is often a room, a specific chair, even a bathroom, a patio, or an outdoor place of solitude.

The place doesn’t matter as much as having a place.

For me, that place is when I’m outside. 

Writer Wendell Berry said, “The Bible was written to be read outdoors.” 

My best times with God have always been outside, whether on a porch swing, in the woods, or on a tractor.

Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, talked about having a place to get alone with God. In the older Bible versions, it is called a “closet.” 

The New International Version states it this way:

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” 

Notice the progression: a room, a shut door, and a time of prayer.

Every person needs to have that closet—the quiet place where you close the door to the world—and open the door of your heart to God.

It needs to be distraction-free. For me, that necessitates turning off all of my screens and getting truly alone.  

 We need this solitude to sense God’s presence.

* * *

In the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, the writer makes a key statement on the life of Jesus:

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went to a solitary place, where he prayed.” 

For Jesus,  that early morning solitary place was a priority. 

We will always make time for what we consider a priority.  A daily quiet time must be a priority and become a habit, but it won’t happen on its own. 

Where are your solitary places, your lonely places?

I know this: if Jesus needed lonely, solitary, quiet places to meet with His Father, I do too.

Lonely places where we’re free from the distractions of the world.

For me, the early morning, before everything gets moving, is the optimum time to have a quiet time with God,

It may be on a deer stand.  The best book review I’ve ever received was a text that read,  “Curt, I was reading one of your books when a good-sized buck stepped out. I hesitated briefly before laying your book across my knee.”

That’s better than any New York Times-starred review.

Yes, it can be on a deer stand or a quiet chair in the morning—just you, the Lord, and your Bible.

* * * 

Recently, I heard another descriptive term: sacred spaces.

People need sacred spaces, a place where one can feel close to God.

My sacred spaces include the outdoors.  When I’m out in nature, I feel closest to God.  I need sacred spaces to keep my soul healthy: sunrises, sunsets, storms, long walks, lying under the stars, and friendship fires.

Soul health.

I call it soul care.

Our sacred spaces and lonely places are integral in nourishing the soul.


* * *

I sure miss my tractor.

The two things I miss most about living in Dry Creek are bush hogging and the clear night sky.

Everyone needs somewhere to escape, where cares drift away and relaxation slips in like a cool breeze.

For me, that was always my tractor. Despite the noise, it was always a peaceful retreat on the tractor seat. Some of the thorniest problems of my life unraveled while bush-hogging the back field. When I jumped off the tractor, I always felt different than when I climbed aboard. Even, the world looked different.

I called it Tractor Time.

Sadly, I’m a city boy now and no longer own a tractor.

I still have tractor time. It’s just in a different way.

I have friends who enjoy various variations of tractor time—a thinking fire, rocking chair time, a long walk, or soaking in a hot tub. Some get up at 4:30 a.m. to carve out that silent space.

Another writer who cherished solitude, Henry David Thoreau, said,  “I’d rather sit on a pumpkin and have it to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

There may be no tractors where you live or lonely pumpkins, but you can be creative and make your own place.

Different words describe this place: lonely, quiet, solitary, desolate, closet, and sacred.

Whatever we choose to call it, we all need it.


Want more?

Visit our Creekbank YouTube Channel to view Curt reading “Outdoor Life.”

Listen to an Audio Podcast of “Outdoor Life.”




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