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A Way To Grow – Praying from Bare Ground

By: John Dacey on July 30th, 2020

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A Way To Grow – Praying from Bare Ground

Why pray?  |  Celebrating family life

Years ago, we had a backyard of bare ground and weeds. We desired a lawn where grandchildren could run and play. It was a project. We added soil, planted grass seed, and watered. With God’s generous sun and rain, the grass eventually grew. Yet, it did not grow everywhere. In several areas, the ground remained bare; adding more soil and seed did not help. It was puzzling. It was time to revise our yard plan.

After some reflection, we decided to plant perennial flower gardens in the areas where the grass never took root. We covered nature’s random pattern of bare patches with garden soil and compost and bordered with rocks. We set small plants in the soil and hoped.


With time, the perennial gardens flourished, overflowing with color, ever-expanding year after year. A hopeful reimagining and some effort made all the difference. What had been barren was now abundant. We later added several evergreen trees.

The backyard became an oasis, a kind of retreat space where joy happened, where family gathered, rested, played, and celebrated.

I have come to think that the bare spots in our lives, where things don’t grow the way we planned, are opportunities to explore the possibilities.

Prayer gives us a way of thinking, of discovering God’s will for our growth. Perhaps the bare spots that come along can be fertile reminders of our need for Him. When we pray, we live in hopeful reimagining.

Jesus used images of soil, seed, growth, and harvest to help His listeners imagine the reign of God growing in their hearts and their community.

“And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:8)

We can pray with hope and imagination confident that God’s Spirit gives us what we need, moving us to seek the possibilities that draw us closer to Him.

Good seed does not always find “rich soil,” and our plans may fall short of our expectations. How we respond is part of how we grow. When we pray, we cultivate hope. Planted within us is God’s invitation to keep growing.

Where in your family life have you discovered opportunities through prayer to continue growing?

Please feel welcome to share your “backyard” stories of prayer and possibility.

About John Dacey

John Dacey is a retired Catholic high school teacher. He has taught Scripture, Ethics, and Social Justice. He enjoys being in the company of family, reading in the field of spirituality, and gardening. John and his wife have been married for more than 40 years and have two children and four grandchildren.