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    Prayer practices of ‘the Peanut Man’


    On separate occasions recently, friends have pointed me to George Washington Carver’s prayer practices.  Carver’s name is most often heard during Black History Month, the time when a pantheon of black heroes and sheroes are pulled from dusty textbooks and teacher’s guides and paraded before restless audiences.  Rarely do the historical tidbits of their lives take us beyond the surface of their accomplishments.   

     In his case, George Washington Carver became known largely for discovering more than 300 uses for the peanut plant and was even called “the Peanut Man,” as I was taught in school.  He was more than that, did more as a scientist than just work with peanuts. Some called him a mystic because of his spiritual habits and his desire to live his life as an instrument for God’s use.  He was a Christian whose belief in Jesus formed the conduit through he could meld his faith and his science. 

    This son of a slave found solace and inspiration in nature. Walking alone among the flowers and trees, he listened to hear the voice of God, which he credits with enabling him  to  expand the uses he found for sweet potatoes, pecans, soybeans, walnuts and ochre clay.  He thought of nature as “unlimited broadcasting stations though which God speaks to us” every moment of our day. We just have to tune into God to hear Him, Carver explained. 

    “All my life, I have risen regularly at four o’clock and have gone into the woods and talked with God. There he gives me my orders for the day. Alone there with things I love most, I gather specimens and study the great lessons nature is so eager to teach us all. When people are still asleep, I hear God best and learn my plan.” 

    Several years ago, I had the opportunity while visiting the state of  Alabama to tour the George Washington Carver Museum on the campus of the Tuskegee Institute. I grew more impressed with Carver while viewing displays of his creations and inventions, including fabric dyes and house paints. I stared at his oil paintings and took note of the delicate needlepoint he made and the knitting and crocheting he did. I studied the mat he wove from burlap fibers and marveled at the movable school he designed.   

    It was obvious from the artifacts exhibited in the museum that Carver put his energies into producing items that remain useful to others. He wrote as much in a letter to Booker T. Washington, who hired him to work as a professor  at Tuskegee: “It has always been the one ideal of my life to be of the greatest good to the greatest number of my people possible…” 

    University of Georgia photo


    During his career, Carver was criticized by members of the media for his lack of scientific rigor because he didn’t mind talking about the influence of his spiritual beliefs on his work. But others also praised him as a “scientist humbly seeking the guidance of God.” That we all would do that as we carry out our duties in our workplaces; as we serve in our churches; and as we tend to our homes and families. 

    Here is one of the statements George Washington Carver (I like saying his full name) made about prayer: 

    “My prayers seem to be more than an attitude than anything else. I indulge in very little lip service, but ask the Great Creator silently daily, and often many times per day to permit me to speak to him through the three great Kingdoms of the world, which he has created, viz. – the Animal, Mineral and Vegetable kingdoms; their relations to each other, our relations to them and the Great God who made all of us. I ask him daily and often momently to give me wisdom, understanding and bodily strength to do His will, hence I am asking and receiving all the time.” 

    Are your prayer practices helping you hear God and serve others? How?

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    1. Dear Yvonne,
      Your blog always blesses me more than I can even express! This article about Carver is wonderful. It has encouraged me to also get up and pray in the morning and ‘listen’ to the leading of the LORD for my day! This is what Jesus showed us to do, and the blessings Carver received that have blessed all these generations since is nothing short of a miracle! He is a true Saint!

      Hope you are doing well these days, and I will be reading more of your past blogs. I have sent 4 of my Sisters this blog, and hope they also receive the encouragment as I did! God’s blessings on You!

    2. Thank you Cathy for your encouraging words. I have great admiration for Dr. Carver and his work.
      And his prayer practices definately inspire me. Just imagine how different the world would be if all believers allowed God to truly order our days.
      God bless you.

    3. Thanks for this, Yvonne. George Washington Carver’s walk with God is such a powerful testimony down through the years! When I was just a girl–10 or 12 years old–my grandparents took me to the George Washington Carver National Monument at Diamond, MO, for the first time and it has continued to be a favorite retreat spot for me.

    4. Nancy, I continue to marvel at all Dr. Carver accomplished and know that it was through the grace of God.
      What a wonderful retreat spot you have.

    5. Thanks Yvonne for this confirmation. I have long found the sermons of the river and the whisperings of the forests instructional. The naked Oak standing next to the lush Evergreen nudging me to release my envy of all those I believed had so much more than I. Purple Lillies assuring me that no amount of meditation, prayer, and pleading would turn them into a bed of roses or anything else they simply were not. The River’s rise and receeding reminding me that God’s got His own rythms, and cycles to life. Spills made on the Sands washed away reminding me that none of my messes are too much for God. I once noticed a caterpillar inching its way across a street, unaware, unafraid, completely oblivious to the inherent dangers. I guarded it closely, prepared to pick it up and deliver it to safety if a car came along. I realized that as I cared that much for a caterpillar, God cares so much more for me.

      Thanks for this opportunity to reflect and share. Love you much!

    6. I appreciate your gracious reflections on the life of this awesome individual. It is amazing what God can do when one seeks nothing more than to be his vessel in a needy world. Blessings!

    7. Thanks, this really touched me! Dr. Carver is one of my favorite heroes.


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