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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

2. This is the Prayer I Breathe

Is prayer a simple matter as "inhale" (suck it in!) and "exale" (blow it out!), as simple as talking and listening? Perhaps this is too simple. Well, let's see: must I talk? Must I listen? Put it another way: must I inhale? Must I exhale? If breathing is not optional to my survival, why do I think prayer is? (Maybe it is not so simple)

Breathing is an atmospheric response: outside pressure is exerted against the lungs and we are forced to draw air. Holding our breath is holding out against pressure--we must take a breath, or one will be taken for us (unless we pass out or die from asphyxiation).

I actually tend to hold my breath, going as long as I can on what is on my lungs. I do this without knowing until suddenly I find myself gasping for air. I can be working at my desk, driving, or working outside and suddenly I realize what has happened and I must take a moment to catch up. I tend to do this in my Christian practice as well. So if you find me lying down spiritually, I've not been slain in the spirit, but have probably passed out. I would prefer to be found face-down and sliding into the prayer-closet (but that's another illustration).

Here's the catch: if it is "in Him we live, move, and have our being," then our spiritual atmosphere is God, and it is His "pressure" (by virtue of my new life in His presence) on my spiritual lungs that causes me to "breathe."

A brief moment alone with God once per week, or every once-in-a-while is insufficient and I am gasping.

Think of this: a child's Sunday School class--you've seen them, carrying around little dixie cups of dirt every Spring. Every day the kids are to read their Bibles and pray; then, and only then, could they water the plant. Think about it. If the kids didn’t read the Bible and didn’t pray, the plants weren’t watered and eventually, died. As they saw what happened to their plants, the kids also saw what happened to their souls and to their lives.

How does your garden grow?

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