Week 2 Day 7: Space to Grow

Week 2: My Relationship with God
Workbook Exercise: My Garden Plot

Watch: Week 2 Day 7: Space to Grow
What would help you renew your relationship with God?
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Transcript of Video:

In this phase, we’ve been exploring our relationship with God. We hope you have enjoyed it and we hope you have found something sustaining and inviting. And we’d like to invite you now to sit down and spend some time reflecting on your relationship with God in prayer, and reflecting on ways in which you can help sustain and develop and grow and deepen that relationship with God to be able to know more deeply that gift of life, which is Jesus’ promise to us.

Rather like a garden, plants do need space to grow and our lives are often so incredibly busy that for many people prayer is the first thing to go when there are many other demands on our time. But if that does happen, life becomes even more stressful and difficult. So I would like to invite you to reflect on how you can give your life of prayer more space to grow and develop, and to think of particular ways and particular practices that perhaps you can adopt to enable prayer to take root more deeply in your life and that you may bear fruit to God’s glory.

– Br. Geoffrey Tristram


  1. David Damon on September 19, 2021 at 07:20

    I feel like my relationship with God entered a time of renewal about 2 years ago, and this renewal is continuing. I am so very thankful for this – I had gone through a long desert time before this. One example of this renewal time in my life is working on this Rule of Life series. After this week’s messages from the Brothers, what struck me is being more intentional, and more present, during my times of scripture reading, study, and prayer. It is so easy for my mind to wander during these times, or for me to see these as simply tasks to check off my to-do list. Saying a prayer of intention before each time of devotion has helped these past couple of days. The message about stopping, staring, and considering was very meaningful to me as well. I’ve been practicing looking out my window at the trees and sky during my quiet times, noticing the weather that God has sent my way each morning.

  2. Annmarie Bartoli Trejo on April 8, 2019 at 17:21

    I think I can strengthen my relationship with God by taking time out of my day to meditate, pray and talk with him. Sometimes I just like to sit quietly and have a conversation with God. Sometimes it is thoughts in my head and at other times I talk aloud to him. I talk about my day, my feelings and fears. Sometimes I just thank him for being there with me.

  3. Debbie Golwas on September 9, 2018 at 14:30

    I can strengthen my relationship with God by setting aside certain times of the day to pray. For the last two months I have incorporated The Divine Hours into my practice of praying daily. At first this schedule was a little hectic but have finally worked out how to compensate when I am busy and cannot pray an exact time.

    • Chioma Nwaogu on January 17, 2021 at 13:30

      I always look for ways to get closer to God and to be renewed too, now I feel I can renew this longing by becoming more attuned to God’s way of talking in my life and other ways that I have never understood and I ask the holy spirit to come to my aid, as I start off.

  4. Sue on March 29, 2017 at 03:22

    I think, for me, setting aside a regular time in the morning , but also maybe to start using a journal…perhaps writing a letter or letters might work as well.
    In between I am trying to notice my surroundings more and be more intentional each day, having ‘ mini conversations ‘

  5. Stan Lewis on February 21, 2017 at 09:26

    My profession keeps me very busy, and as a result, my prayer life is sometimes neglected. I feel like I need to do two things to avoid this: 1. Make prayer a priority. Set aside time to contemplate and meditate. 2. Live with mindfulness. Almost any daily activity I do can be a prayer if I am intentional about it.

  6. Jaan Sass on September 19, 2016 at 13:23

    I guess getting over my reluctance to share my life with others. I joined the prayer team which was a big step for me I have difficulty with committing myself. Building on and finding healthy relationships instead of remaining inside my head as a way of renewing my relationship with God. My biggest problem is remaining anonymous with my Church family.

  7. Vicki on March 5, 2016 at 07:41

    Beginning and ending each day with prayer. Doing a journal . Rereading gratitude journal book . Inviting My daughter into this practice. Reading and considering scriptures. Listening
    Loving others resisting anger despair and hopelessness watching for Gods spirit in the world around us. Forgiving.

  8. Alan Rollins on February 25, 2016 at 11:42

    For me, having a relationship with God means adopting a consistent and regular place and time for prayer. This has been a suggestion from the brothers heard so many times, and I know that prayer has been so helpful to me in the past. My hope is that God can help stop my mind from wandering the way it does; my struggle to keeping focused, and attention to how God may be trying to get through to me have been life-long struggles.

  9. NA on February 22, 2016 at 10:43

    I tend to think of prayer as akin to breathing, meaning that it is something ongoing and continuous rather than specifically set apart. I grew up in a denomination where a rigid perfectionist type of adherence to specific set aside times was encouraged as The Only Way, as if God not speaking in that particular time meant you were doing something wrong.

    After leaving that behind, I adopted a more Celtic form of prayer. I was struck by how they had prayers for even the simplest of tasks, milking the cow, tending the fire, and so on, how there was this amazing cognizance of God as being in and through and present in everything at all times. It was simply a part of life…like breathing.

    Renewal wise, I could benefit from reading the Bible more. I still struggle with my inner rebellion against those rigid holdovers, so I tend not to read it as much as would be best for me. I find that the messages in it get through to me in other ways, smaller portions, with illustrations, etc. which is God understanding and approaching me more obliquely, I suppose.

  10. Debbie on February 22, 2016 at 09:09

    I am part of a group of ladies who when called on pray for people who are in need of prayer. I find that it helps me to focus on what is it God wants in their lives. I try to get a sense of their need. That I know those thoughts of these people are place there because it is what they need. We recently had a parishioner give to us a wrong name. I do not feel we are a joke and that along with the real name which we were given and the wrong name. God has asked us to be ever close to this person who I feel was having issue with weither or not his soul was salvage able. I feel it was. I feel as though we are given that last hour to turn away and to turn to God for forgiveness No matter what.

  11. Linda on February 22, 2016 at 07:25

    Prayer – centering prayer – and a time specific for either but, as said earlier in these lessons, not just a specific time but also the remembrance to pray throughout the day. Just these Lenten lessons alone have placed me into the position of spending more time with God and I am truly appreciative of them! I hope I can experience future series from SSJE!

  12. Stan on February 21, 2016 at 18:30

    I don’t know that I’ve actually lost my relationship with God. It seems to me that I’m still growing it. Isn’t that what this whole Garden thing is all about? And I’m finding this very enlightening, refreshing, and satisfying.

  13. Donald Sutton III on February 21, 2016 at 14:14

    For me I feel learning how to meditate and to take time to enjoy God’s creation would do the trick. I have a desire to meditate but not sure what would be the best kind of meditation for me.

  14. Darla on February 20, 2016 at 22:30

    Consistently being in dialogue , rather than my tendency to have a monologue would help to renew my relationship with God. To achieve this I have to be intentional about setting aside the time and honoring the scared space.

  15. Margaret on February 20, 2016 at 16:23

    I set aside at least 2 regular times for prayer each day, morning and evening, but I do not beat myself up so to speak if I miss a time. God knows my needs and as was suggested, I can turn other practices into prayer time. Recently I have become interested in centering prayer and am sure this will be a learning experience for me.
    Your garden plot metaphor is wonderful for me because tending to Gods world is a time I feel very close to the divine. We can experience God in so many places and in so many other beings, we can truly pray without ceasing.

  16. CH on February 20, 2016 at 16:03

    I need to allow time and space for spiritual renewal in my relationship with God to happen. I need to have my spiritual practice become a daily priority – done with bold intention and true desire. In regards to time and space, it is so easy to go through the parts/actions of the Daily Office on autopilot, and not let the Word of God and prayers sink into me and have meaning. I want to approach this spiritual practice with eagerness, moving beyond a sense of obligation.

  17. susan zimmerman on February 20, 2016 at 14:14

    …never felt a need for renewal…formationally just in silence -God knows my prayer(s).

    …been thinking about those who have been spiritually martyred (i haven’t forgotten them)…those who had to hang their harps in the trees…basically, for me renewal is the complimentary polar opposite of the Jewish Idea of Geburah, which is always in tension w/renewal… i can deal with renewal better just knowing this…having spent a lot of time on Mt Study Mountain one sooner or later has to come down and deal with the swarming dogs.

  18. Danielle on February 20, 2016 at 14:04

    Does anyone remember the Tennessee Ernie Ford song that begins “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses…”? It’s a walking meditation with Christ that may ring a bell with some of us older folk.

    • Fogbank on February 22, 2016 at 09:20

      I remember, especially the chorus:
      “And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
      And he tells me I am His own.
      And the joy we share as we tarry there,
      None other has ever known.”

      This winter, on a temporary six week relocation, I walked with my corgi on a quiet rural snow covered road that carved through the woods. I felt so profoundly blessed to have those moments to experience God’s blessings in such a vivid way. I tarried there.

  19. Neil Ellis Orts on February 20, 2016 at 13:32

    As I listened to this video. I tended to something on my stove, opened the door on my apartment’s balcony (in case the cat wanted to sit in the sunshine there), realized I’d missed some of the video so backed it up to the beginning, tended to the stove, picked up a small gift someone gave me last night to admire it, started to open another browser tab to look up something that came to mind and then remembered I wanted to listen to this video that I’d already lost a few words of again . . .

    So . . . multitasking. It’s not the gift the corporate would have you think it is. It’s not a spiritual gift, anyway. Useful in some instances, but when you get used to it, it appears you can forget to focus, do things with deeper intention.

    I think that may be my takeaway for this week. It came up earlier in the week and here it is again. I need to find room for . . . mono-tasking? Deeper focus, anyway. Intention.

  20. Michael on February 20, 2016 at 13:26

    I can focus on something for maybe a minute or two and then a squirrel runs by the window and I’m completely distracted. Trying to stay in the moment a bit longer would make me feel I’m trying to get closer to God. Maybe I’m not, but that is the answer at the minute

  21. Julia on February 20, 2016 at 12:15

    I’m still working on the “establish” before getting to the “renew”. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other.

  22. Stephanie on February 20, 2016 at 11:37

    Solitude and silence are so comfortable for me, and I have so much of them, I’m not sure I really need to build fences to protect those. Rather, I’m pondering whether what I’m being called to do instead is to carve out disciplined time and space to engage a specific person with absolute presence. Or more than one person. I avoid God when I avoid people.

  23. William Spies on February 20, 2016 at 10:41

    well to find time for prayer in my life I may a point of during my daily exercise time jogging in the forest so thanks to nature it allows me to focus on God’s creation and my place in creation. for me it’s a way to clear my mind and to focus on God and makes me humble myself to pray.

  24. gwedhen nicholas on February 20, 2016 at 10:38

    I feel as if I have recently been renewed by God. I feel fresh and alive, and new. I have discovered my spiritual gift which is being a prophet, and it has been confirmed for me that my belief that I am a mystic is true, and I have been reassured that being an organist is my ministry. I feel as if I have been held up by God, given authority. Now I need to forget these things and just be for God, let HIM be. It isn’t about me at all. Its’ about God having no hands but mine etc. I pray along with St Paul, that I have died and now Christ lives in me.

    • Bobbi on February 20, 2016 at 15:20

      Thank you for the reminder,Gwdhen: “Now I need to forget these things and just be for God, let HIM be. It isn’t about me at all.” It helps to articulate our call and our relationship with God, but then, ‘Let go and let God.’

  25. Florence Munoz on February 20, 2016 at 10:30

    I have lead a life of prayer as part of my rule of life. The area I need to work on is examining at the end of each day where I have fallen short in my relationship with God, creation, others and myself.

  26. Kristi on February 20, 2016 at 10:10

    I think that for me, deliberately setting aside a time for prayer each day would help me become closer to God. I work best when I schedule something & have it set. That way it just becomes part of my routine, like a spiritual exercise regime. I have the space in my garden for this offering, but have never done it before outside of a church. I think it would be a very meaningful practice for me to do on a regular basis.

  27. Paul on February 20, 2016 at 09:26

    It’s not the quantity of my prayer that I worry about, but the quality. As a retiree, I do have the time and the desire to know Jesus better, but worries and distractions today get in the way of truly experiencing his presence. Jesus, I offer these worries and distractions to you and ask you to remove them if that be your will for me. Amen.

  28. Jim Deppe on February 20, 2016 at 09:01

    While I have carved out a time (early AM, first thing) and a place (reading chair in library/sunroom) I think that I can renew my relationship by intentionally moving to a different location outside and beyond my comfort zone and its inevitable distractions. Taking my journal along as I get out and about in the world and finding a place to center, think, pray, listen and write is a practice I will try and cultivate as a part of the renewal process.

  29. Patricia on February 20, 2016 at 08:52

    Before opening this e-maill, I opened the one from Episcopal Relief & Development Lenten Meditation. That meditation asked what are some of my prayer cues. And, then Br. Geoffrey’s words echoed those words in a different way. I had to think about my prayer cues — because I know that some events drive me to my knees while others (particularly when I am behind the wheel) are a quick prayer. Some of my prayer cues include: an ambulance siren, deep gratitude, serious illness, for people needing strength, a desperate phone call, when I know I am sinking, news reports, receiving SSJE posts every morning in my inbox. So, perhaps, I am more prayer centered than I give my self credit for.

    • Kelley on February 20, 2016 at 11:41

      Prayer Cues!! Love it!! Thank you! I need more of these.

    • NA on February 22, 2016 at 10:34

      I use prayer cues, too! I guess I did not think of them that way, though. Sirens, a person’s name coming to mind, feeling gratitude/awareness of blessings… I also treat things like not being able to fall back asleep at night sometimes as a call to pray for the people God brings to mind, some of which I know may not be asleep either.

  30. Suzanne on February 20, 2016 at 08:26

    Yes, from time to time the world does get my attention and I slip away from meeting with, listening to, and talking with God. As the emptiness sets in and gets my attention, all I need to do is begin meeting with, listening to, and talking with God. While it’s not rocket science, it requires intentionality. That’s always the hard part. Being intentional requires the true self where masks are stripped away, the necessary time is spent, and heart-listening begins to come back into balance.

    • gwedhen nicholas on February 20, 2016 at 10:40


  31. Mrs T on February 20, 2016 at 08:20

    I am quite busy with three children, work,church etc but sometimes i think because I only have little time i don’t bother to begin as if because I haven’t the time to do the whole garden there’s no value in a bit of weeding or planting.I think what would help me is a short regular quiet space and finding value in small things that work into my life instead of waiting for a grandiose mountain top experience. Not got further than that.

  32. Tiffany on February 20, 2016 at 08:20

    To renew my relationship with God, I need to speak to him first thing in the morning . Keep in mind (remind myself) before leaving the house to put on his armor. So when I am at work , I can remember I have come in peace, for my feet are shod with it , to do what is right because I have on the breastplate , to keep his word on my mind so that my faith shield will stay up and won’t waiver .

    • Stephanie on February 20, 2016 at 11:24

      What a beautiful metaphor. As one who avoids relationships (to avoid conflict), that is really helpful. Thank you.

  33. Betty on February 20, 2016 at 08:14

    I can grow more into my life of prayer by sitting quietly reflecting on spiritual readings . I can also grow by being more disciplined in taking care of my health… Taking a deep breath and remember God loves me and all people.. And setting boundaries around myself to take care of myself…

  34. Jim V on February 20, 2016 at 07:28

    Adopting a prayer life seems to me where this is leading us. Specifically I am hearing a call to some prayer practice of quiet contemplation. I am also hearing that our daily activities, like excercise or walking or chores can be made into a prayer by calling them to order with a prayer of intent.

  35. Robert Corey on February 20, 2016 at 06:45

    Again, the video and its title ask separate questions. The video is about holding on to a place of prayer in the stormy times of life — the ones which command such time and attention as to be neglectful of the condition of the boat. I’m shifting analogies. Gardening is not my thing. I’m not even sure what a gardening analogy to urgent busyness is. Infestation? Harvest? I’ll stick with typhoon. Capt. Queeg on mutiny day. I’m so like him in so many ways. Sitting in his stateroom, was he ever at prayer? I’ve decided — during this series — that my stateroom sitting is a form of prayer — an inefficient one. Suppose Queeg had said to Maryk “hold fleet course — I’m taking to my stateroom”? “That’s a direct order, Lieutenant!”

    This ain’t taking me anywhere. There’s a way of praying that does not disengage. In fact, engagement is a form of prayer. Did Jesus’ prayer end at Gethsemane?

    The question about renewal… I left off talking about monoculture from two perspectives. Protecting a monoculture crop for the chaos of nature. Or protecting natural heritage from exotic invasion? Renewal suggest more than the means to re-establish status-quo by energetic diligent unceasing repulsion of the invader. It is to invite the invader into a new equilibrium.

    • Jim Deppe on February 20, 2016 at 09:08

      I like your Queeg analogy. As a former sea captain myself, I imagine Queeg did pray and sensed God in the oceanic swell, the effortless soaring of an albatross in winds of the southern ocean and the intensity of the southern cross in the night sky.

  36. Caroline homer on February 20, 2016 at 03:49

    We preach salvation by faith, but I am tempted in ministry to act as tho it’s salvation by works. People shout louder than God too. In ageing and ill health, I need to retrain in less routine Offices and explore prayer without feeling self-indulgent

  37. margaret nunn on February 20, 2016 at 03:40

    I have a small notebook and am using a different letter of the alphabet on each page, then thinking of everything I can beginning with that letter to pray about. I am writing a list on the page as I think so I don’t forget. I have already started try to find 10minutes every day to pray. Very calming and I am enjoying just being quietly with God.

    • nancy reynolds on February 20, 2016 at 10:57

      what a great idea!!I think I will do the same!

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