My home sits along a creek in a canyon in the shadow of a large mountain. During the spring snowmelt and after heavy rains this stream swells and acts more like a river than a creek. People have drowned in it. One day I traced the origin of the creek to its very source, a snowfield atop the mountain. From there the melted snow begins the long journey down the mountain, joining other rivulets to take shape as the creek below my house.
It occurs to me, thinking about prayer, that most of the time I get the direction wrong. I start downstream with my own concerns and bring them to God. I inform God, as if God did not already know. I plead with God, as if hoping to change God’s mind and overcome divine reluctance. Instead, I should start upstream where the flow begins.
When we shift direction, we realize that God already cares about our concerns—a loved one’s cancer, a broken family, a rebellious teenager—more than we do. Our Father knows what we need (Matt. 6:8).
Grace, like water, descends to the lowest part. Streams of mercy flow. We begin with God and ask what part we can play in His work on earth. With this new starting point for prayer, our perceptions change. We look at nature and see the signature of the grand Artist. We look at human beings and see individuals of eternal destiny made in God’s image. Thanksgiving and praise surge up to Him as a natural response.