Praying With John
By Dean Jones
In 1965, my dad acquired two acres of land in the corner of an Illinois cornfield, built a house, and bought a John Deere riding mower. Fast forward a few years, and I found myself on the back of that mower, cutting grass. You see, two acres isn’t enough to farm, but it’s too much to mow by hand, which is why I was sitting in the driver’s seat of that shiny, green tractor.
For 12 years, I mowed those two acres. I fell in love with the solitude, the roar of the engine, and the opportunity to experience instant gratification. I added a few other yards to my mowing routine: the neighbors, my churchyard, and a local cemetery. I soon discovered the time on the tractor gave me time to dream, think, and pray.
That habit acquired so many years ago has continued, and today, I still make prayer a regular part of my mowing routine. Assorted areas, plants, smells, and objects remind me of people, and the circuitous route in my yard reminds me to pray for various people.
To encourage you to join the “mow and pray team,” I’ll share a few of my own prayerful reminders. When I mow around rose bushes, the thorns translate to difficult people—perhaps thorns in my flesh. They remind me to pray for my enemies, those who have caused me hardship, or simply those who need a touch from the Lord.
For years, I had a patch of wild violets growing under a tree in my yard. When cut, violets have a very distinct odor. There’s nothing special about the odor, but it always reminds me of the times I cut the grass at Grandpa’s house. He had similar violets, and I clearly remember the smell. This memory always brings a smile to my face, a pleasant memory of a great childhood, but it also reminds me to pray for those who have influenced me with their example, wisdom, and influence.
When I trim around the mature trees in my yard, I’m reminded of those in leadership, those who need firmly planted roots, by streams of living waters. Sometimes, I pray for the President; sometimes, my pastor.
The fence my neighbor put up between my house and his is a sizeable barrier. It gets my attention in a bold way. It reminds me humans have erected barriers to hinder them from seeing their Creator. I pray these barriers will be removed, their eyes opened, and their hearts restored to full fellowship with Him.
When I stop the rotating blades to cross the gravel drive, I’m reminded of the seeds that fell on stony ground and the challenge of the gospel taking root. God can turn stony ground into fertile soil. It is a perfect time to pray for those who sow gospel seeds: missionaries, teachers, pastors, and friends.
I have a shallow ditch near the road in front of my property. I know so many people who seem to dwell in ditches. I pray the Lord will lift them up, bring them healing and understanding, and give them peace for their journey through life.
I could go on, but I pray now for you, that whether cutting the grass, driving to work, or walking through your home, you will always look for reminders and mental triggers to ignite prayers in your heart for those who desperately need it.
Some time back, my wife and I moved. Now, I have five acres of grass to mow. I still own a John Deere, and I’ll continue to pray with John.
About the Author: Dean Jones is director of conferences and events at Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA). He attends The Donelson Fellowship (TDF) in Nashville, Tennessee.