And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” – John 20:22
Take a deep breath and hold it. How long can you hold it in? When was the last time you heard of someone dying because they were holding their breath? You haven’t heard of anyone because it is not possible to die from holding your breath. Why is that? Because your body will not allow it. Unless you have something covering your mouth and nose your body will automatically force you to take a breath.
I am finding that as I get older I am taking more shallow breaths. It gets so bad sometimes that my body will involuntarily take a huge breath in order to get enough oxygen into my lungs. It is a little disconcerting to all of a sudden have my body do something that I cannot control. It is even more disconcerting to my wife. I talked to my doctor about it and he said it was normal and that experts are finding that more people are not breathing as deep as they used to. I have found that I need to intentionally take deeper breaths in order to keep my body from forcing a deep gulp of air.
Sadly, I am finding that my prayer “breathing” is mirroring my physical breathing. While my prayer life is occuring and I pray throughout the day, I do not believe that it has the depth in order to give my spirit the “oxygen” that it needs. It is like I am ankle deep, but I need to go deep enough for the water to cover my head. I need to emerse myself in the presence of God. I need to go deeper. I have started to go deeper in my scripture reading. I have been devouring scripture like someone who hasn’t eaten anything in weeks. I can’t get enough of it. Even though I have read the Bible completely through at least a dozen times, I am finding that I have a new longing for listening to the words of God. I need to transfer this desire to my prayer time.
Now before you start giving me all the techniques and methods for going deeper in prayer I want to say that I probably know all of them. You see, methods and techniques will not get to the job done. I fear that today there is a tendency within Christianity to deal with symptoms instead of dealing with the root cause. As a side note, I am also seeing this within the medical field, but that is for another time. In Christianity we try to modifiy the behavior hoping that our actions will change. This is a very common way that most people deal with their addictions, especially pornography addiction. While modifying the behavior has a short-term success, over the long haul we automatically return to our old patterns. Proverbs 26:11 says, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” If we don’t get to the root of our actions, our actions will never change and we continue to fall back into our “folly.” We truly are fools.
That being said, what is the root cause of my shallow prayer life? I believe that it is my lack of love for Christ. That is a very hard thing to admit. It breaks my heart to say that I don’t love Christ enough. I can try to justify where I am, but when I do that the arguments all come up empty. I have to ask myself, “Is Jesus Lord of my life?” If he is, then my prayer life would be deep. Am I putting Christ first? If I am then my spirit would have plenty of “oxygen.” As it is I have a long way to go, but I am going in the right direction. Will you come along with me? How is your prayer life? Are you having to take deep “breaths” in order for your spirit to have enough “oxygen?” Are you ankle deep when you should be completely covered? The place that I am starting is right here:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24
Father, I praise you for searching my heart. You know me better than I know myself. Search me deep Father! Cleanse me from any grievioius way that is in me. Help me to breathe you in so that my spirit is full. Give me a desire not just for your Word, but for your presence in prayer. Give me a hunger that can only be fulfilled by time spent talking to You. You are my hope and salvation. I praise your name. Thank you for loving me beyond understanding, even when I don’t seem to love you enough. Amen.