“Breathe a Prayer”
I was driving along the road the other day thinking about the verse in I Thessalonians 5:17. It’s a mere 3 words in English. It’s sandwiched in between two verses dealing with rejoicing & thanksgiving.
”Pray without ceasing.”
”Don’t stop praying!” the Apostle Paul is saying. It’s a command. One side of the Command Coin implies obedience or disobedience. A will is involved. The other side of the Command Coin implies absolute authority. A power is involved.
As a retired nurse, I see the similarities between prayer and breathing. Bear with me as I try to explain.
Breathing is voluntary, but in a healthy person, the will to hold a breath or to hyperventilate is subjected to the authority of the brain. Ask anyone who has tried to hold their breath thru a long tunnel!
There is a reason why the brain will over-ride the will of the person. You see, the purpose of breathing is to remove damaging, toxic carbon dioxide and to gain helpful, nourishing oxygen. If we hold our breath for too long, our body will die….it’s that simple. So the brain says to our will: Sorry, but there’s something more important than your stubborn will.
Not only does the brain over-ride our will, for the sake of the body’s survival, but the brain is constantly monitoring the condition of our body, and is telling us exactly how to breath. Sometimes it says “Take a yawn” or “Speed up” or “Slow down”. All of these variations have a purpose, even if we don’t understand the details of their purpose. The brain is constantly measuring oxygen, pH, carbon dioxide…and is giving healthy commands to the lungs.
As I drove along, I thought how much God is like the brain and prayer is like breathing! God knows all the details of our existence. He knows when we are holding our breath (no praying), and He knows when the carbon dioxide (toxic worry, laziness, pride ) is building up, and what the demand for oxygen (metabolic power) is….and when He urges us to pray, we are better off if we submit to His command & pray.
Now, how does God urge us to pray? By His Spirit. It’s that simple. His Spirit is like the spinal cord; it carries messages (impulses) from the brain to the lungs & back again. In a healthy person, there is nothing stopping this communication.
But look at a person who has been in an accident & has had his spinal cord ruptured. That person has no communication between his brain & his lungs. His lungs are “dead”, powerless, utterly ineffective in clearing toxins or in gaining metabolic strength.
As I have studied Scripture, there is one thing and one thing only that cuts the communication cord between God and me. Do you know what that one thing is? It’s not the number of good works that I’ve done today. It’s not the little amount of money that I put in the offering plate last Sunday. It’s not that I didn’t read my Bible this morning. It’s not that I’m in a noisy, chaotic place. It’s not that I have so many things on my list to do. It’s not that my hormones are ka-pluey. No, it’s none of these things…
There’s only one thing that can sever the cord of communication between me and God.
The blood of Jesus has removed all sin from my life….unless I stubbornly refuse to let go of it. Bitterness, anger, immorality, greed, covetousness, pride, gossip, drunkenness (with drugs or alcohol), hostility, immodesty, defrauding (tempting) someone, stealing (even from an employer)…and the list goes on. The Enemy of our souls loves to entrap us in sin; he loves to break that spinal cord! And he deludes us into thinking “It’s not that bad”. “I’m not as bad as the other person.” “How about a little tolerance & grace, God!”
A former school mate of mine has been lying in bed, paralyzed, dependent upon a breathing machine since his accident several years ago. Do you think he thinks like that about his spinal cord? “Oh, it’s not as cut as the guy down the street!” No way! All he cares about is the condition of his own cord. He wants to breathe again! Stem cell implants…steriods…surgeries. Only one thing matters….get that cord intact again.
And so it should be with us. Only one thing should matter….get that sin confessed. Repent of that sinful way of living; turn away from it! Get the cord intact again, so that communication with God can resume…so that toxins can be removed and power can be gained.
And then life is restored.
We simply cannot live long spiritually without communicating (praying). And we cannot live strong without submitting our wills to His commands.