by Susan Sampson

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it!  Prone to leave the God I love!  Come, Lord Jesus, fountain of every blessing, and tune my heart to sing your grace.  I am a debtor to your grace.  I was dead in my trespasses and sins in which I once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air…living in the passions of my flesh and carrying out the desires of my body and my mind.  I was a child of wrath.  But you, Lord, being rich in mercy and because of your great love have made me alive with Christ!  (Eph. 2:1-4)

I was separated from Christ…having no hope and without God.  But you have brought me near! (Eph. 2:12-13)  May your goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to you.  Thank you, Jesus, my Good Shepherd, for seeking me when I was separated from you and running my hell bound race.  Thank you for delivering me from the domain of darkness and transferring me to the kingdom of your beloved Son, in whom I have redemption and the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:13-14)  This is exactly why I can pray and must be praying.

My heart needs a tune up, Lord.  I desperately need your grace.  I need you, the master mechanic, the Great Physician, to change my heart.  Thank you for your promise in Deuteronomy 30:6 in which you promise to do this very thing: “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

O Father, how I thank you for this study on prayer, In the Garden.  How I thank you for teaching me how to pray.  Please give us all the grace we need to surrender our hearts to you.  Please draw us near.  Keep us close.  Hide us under the shelter of your wings.  Lord, my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.  Help us all put our flesh to death.  Help us to walk in the Spirit, not giving into the passions of our flesh in which we used to walk.  The old has gone and the new has come!  Help us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the mount of God’s redeeming love.

“Here’s my heart, O take and seal it; seal it for thy courts above.”

by Susan Sampson

My husband and I dated long distance before we were married.  I lived in Houston and he lived here.  That was before cell phones and texting.  I was thinking about how long we used to talk on the phone together.  It was hours, many times til the wee hours of the night.  Huge phone bills!  I loved talking to him and feeling that closeness.  Oh how I long to have that kind of love and devotion for my Lord!

But I confess to you all that the thought of praying to the Lord for hours, any time of day, causes my flesh to resist.  I want to be a prayer warrior.  Yet, the flesh resists.  And our flesh will always resist (Rom. 8:7).  Of course our Father knows this about us, which is one reason I’m sure He instructs us in Colossians 3:5 to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you…”

I’m so so thankful for the visual image of the garden!  Oh how I want to grow!Our Father is the vinedresser.  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1).  Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  One of my favorite flowers is wisteria, which is such a beautiful vine.  Such a gift of beauty from the Lord.  A beautiful picture of who we are in His eyes in Christ.

Heavenly Father, we desperately need your grace!  Please give us the desire to pray, the grace to persevere in prayer when the enemy and our flesh goes to battle against the Spirit in us.  When it feels as awkward or even as frightening as riding our bikes for the first time, help us not to give up.  Teach us how to pray.  Help us to clear the land.  Show us your great love for us in Christ.  May we continue to grow by grace into beautiful blossoms in your garden this side of heaven!

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!  For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psa. 95:6-7).