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Issue Features
Discovery Magazine 10/1/1994

The Prairie Dog Principle

by  Garry K. Brantley, M.A., M.Div.

Jesus often used animals to teach important lessons. He used sparrows to teach us not to worry so much about things, but to trust in God's care (Matthew 10:29-31). Jesus said that we should be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). The animals God created teach us many valuable lessons.

Prairie dogs aren't mentioned in the Bible, but they illustrate an important lesson it teaches. These small creatures live in constant danger of predators. How do they protect themselves? When they are out of their burrows, certain ones (called sentinels) keep watch for predators. If they see danger, they let out a shrill, high-pitched "yip." The other prairie dogs will heed the warning, and quickly scamper into their safe burrows. So, prairie dogs protect themselves by watching out for one another.
Jesus knew that people lived in constant danger of doing wrong. He also knew how important it was for people to watch out for one another. The night before His death, Jesus needed His disciples to watch with Him (Mark 14:32-34). He also said: "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation" (Matthew 26:41).
Here is where the prairie dog teaches us an important lesson. We know how easy it is to do wrong, even when we don't mean to. Sometimes we let others pressure us to do what we know is wrong. That's why those who are trying to live by God's way should stick together and watch out for one another. It's much easier to obey God when we get help from others. That's the prairie dog principle!

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