On Prayer, Potatoes and Pulling Weeds

by | May 1, 2017 | Spiritual Practice | 6 comments

I have two garden beds in my back yard—one a perennial bed of flowers, the other a 12×6 rectangle of mostly weeds. The flower bed is behaving as expected this time of year–peony shoots with their magenta spikes heading skyward, the clematis tendrils beginning to twirl up and around the bird gazebo. A ‘Sombrero’ Echinacea (bright orange) is just beginning to sneak back through the dirt and the columbine leaves are unfurling.

The other space is a mostly weed bed formerly known as a vegetable garden. I have absolutely no illusions about actually planting a real garden this year, although I gave it a try. I recently impressed my friend Natalie by telling her about all the lettuce and green pea seeds I planted a few weeks back. She can’t see the weed-infested dirt around those sprouts so she doesn’t know how far from Martha Stewart-y my urban spot of green actually is.  Half of the peas were dug up and gnawed on by squirrels and about 10 of the sprouts have survived.

The lettuce has yet to be seen.

We had some nice-ish weather the other day here in Seattle so I went outside to pull weeds in the, ahem, vegetable garden. I had no grandiose ideas about making any kind of dent in all the volunteer greenery out there, I actually just wanted the therapy. Pulling weeds and praying is one of my favorite things to do. I pray out loud or sing while wielding my handy digging tool. I love it.

Imagine my surprise when I found next to the Mint that Would Not Die four potato plants sprouting through the dark earth. I thought I’d dug them all up last year, but there they were next to the stray sweet pea vines and self-sowing sunflower seeds. Like an invisible surprise, they’d been growing all this time. They’re Yukon Golds—yum.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It made me think about how often when we are despairing that God will ever answer our prayers because we don’t see anything happening. But underneath the surface of our lives, often in the dark, His power is growing and moving on our behalf. There is life about to happen and we just don’t know it.

Flower and vegetable seeds have a necessary process for producing a new plant—they must shed a dead layer, a shell, then push roots down into the earth then force their brand new leaves up through the soil. It takes time and patience and a lot of energy. God has all the time, certainly all the power, but sometimes we are short on the patience part. Or the faith part. “God, why is this so hard right now???”

We have to hold on for the right season and trust God’s timing. When you have a new opportunity to see growth or change in your life or a need for provision, close your eyes and imagine what God might be doing behind the scenes. Maybe there are some weeds to pull, some things that need to go before you’ll be able to see what God is doing. If you feel weary of waiting for an answer, take your eyes off the soil and look up.  When we least expect it, God is often working invisibly on our behalf, waiting to bring surprises our way.

And they might look like gold (potatoes).


  1. I have to say that the fact that you, an outdoor-loving gardener, have weeds gives me hope. Someday, maybe, when I’m done raising children, I’ll raise produce and flowers. And your words in this post, those give me hope as well.

  2. I love this and I too have the weeds and the never die mint. But my clematis never does well. But your spiritual point is well taken and a great reminder. You made me smile tonight. Thanks!

    • Jean, I’m so glad I could make you smile….God is the best teacher when it comes to my garden. Thanks for reading.

  3. AMEN to your observations, Jody, including: “When we least expect it, God is often working invisibly on our behalf, waiting to bring surprises our way.” My pastor-husband and I have been surprised numerous times over the years by: monetary gifts, unbelievable bargains, lovely furniture given to us that fit our wish-list, and once, even a brand new car. To say we have rejoiced in the bounty of the Lord (Jeremiah 31:12b) is an understatement!

    • God is such a show-off, huh? That’s a remarkable list of miracles from our loving God.

  4. Seems we have matching weed beds. Argh. I keep waiting for nice weather to motivate me. I’ve lost sight of how cathartic working in soil can be. Thanks for reminding me today how healing it is to hum and dibble. 🙂


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