Daily Bread: Our Enjoyment of the Outdoors • Our Enjoyment of God

“Give us today our daily bread” is part of the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray. We can apply the idea of daily bread to our enjoyment of the outdoors and—most importantly—to our enjoyment of the Lord Himself.

"Daily Bread in the outdoors and with God" with image of bare feet on a sandy beach at water's edge
Being near water is one of my favorite places! The sound of waves is so therapeutic

The Outdoors: A Place to Return To

Generally, people who enjoy spending time in nature and the outdoors prefer to engage in those outdoor activities repeatedly.

I’ve never heard an outdoor enthusiast say, “Yeah, I went hiking once, and that’s all I need. I won’t need to go hiking ever again.”

When we talk about spending time in green and blue spaces and being outside, it’s an ongoing engagement with these spaces.

For many of us, spending time in nature has been a conversation between us and nature that we’ve been having for years—even decades!  We return to these places and these activities over and over again because of what they mean to us.

They are stabilizing. They are life-giving. They are joy-infusing and they are healing. 

three young women on a hike in the woods, smiling and laughing
One memory where time spent in nature provided not only incredible mental health nourishment and many laughs but also the opportunity for deeper spiritual growth

The Outdoors: A Place that Heals and Replenishes

There are definitely times when I feel like I’ve been away from nature for too long. It’s like something in me is depleted.

In seasons of my life when I’m not outside enough, I often find myself to be more tired. To lack motivation to engage in daily movement. I’ve forgotten how fortifying and renewing it is to get outside and be in nature, even if it’s just for a short amount of time!

Newton’s laws of motion state that an object in motion stays in motion, and I think that applies here too.

A person who prioritizes time outdoors will keep going outdoors. Momentum matters when it comes to building healthy habits. 

two people walk along the rocky shoreline on a sunny day
Time spent in blue and green spaces is good for the soul 

The Benefits are Expansive

We see this supported in science as well that consistently spending time in the outdoors is good for our mental health, our physical health, our sleep and so much more!

Read more about that here, in a great article by the United States Forest Service. And for any of you who like to dive a little deeper and see the science, here is a research article published by the National Institute of Health.

God: A Relationship that Heals and Replenishes 

This is similar to the way Jesus talks about our faith as well.

In the Bible, Jesus talks about God being our provider. When He was on the earth with the disciples, they depended on God for providence and care in a variety of ways.

Jesus didn’t say, “Pray once and then you’re all good.” In Matthew 6, when Jesus is teaching the disciples the way to pray, He includes the line, “Give us today our daily bread.

This implies that if we’re getting our daily bread today, we’ll also need to ask for it tomorrow, and the next day and the next. It reinforces the importance of a daily prayer practice even though that may look drastically different from person to person.

In the Old Testament when God was providing for the Hebrews, the instructions were to collect the manna daily. Any they tried to save overnight became rotten.

God promises to be our provider, too. And as we sustain that relationship we see that play out in our lives in miraculous ways! 

group of friends on a narrow bridge, smiling
I have experienced so much joy being in nature with loved ones like friends and family! 

So we repeatedly seek out nature for the positive benefits it gives us (which in turn is seeking out God because God made nature to bless us in those ways!)…

And we repeatedly seek out connection and relationship with the God of the universe who made us and who is continually renewing our strength and giving us the grace and mercy needed for our lives. 

three women sit on a huge rock, smiling
I love this picture because of the joy on our faces from getting to be somewhere beautiful God created and enjoying it together (photo courtesy of Annette Scheil) 

Never Too Late 

Just like it’s never too late to start having an ongoing conversation with God, it’s never too late to start spending time in nature!

If you have wanted to spend more time outdoors consistently, I encourage you to start small and find activities that work for your lifestyle and schedule. Don’t compare yourself to other people when it comes to how you engage with the natural world around you.

[Sometimes, finding a group to join can help, too!]

In the same way, if you’re learning how to experience the daily bread that comes with spending time with God:

  • It works to start small
  • Don’t compare your faith walk and experience with others
  • Find others to encourage you in your spiritual journey
the author runs barefoot on a road surrounding by towering pine trees
Don’t forget to frolic! Joy is a gift from God in all seasons and something to be found in nature. 

Dig Deeper

Read the story of God providing the Hebrews with manna in the wilderness in Exodus 16. Reflect on what resources you’re being asked to depend on God for daily in this season.

Is it grace? Is it faith? Is it a fruit of the Holy Spirit? 

Here’s more…

Emilie O'Connor