Monday, June 22, 2015

Spiritual Respiration

I’ve read a lot of books on prayer. There are all sorts of definitions about prayer, but the one that seems the most true and stands out to me is that prayer is “relationship maintenance” with God. We are already loved and invested in by the Lord. We can’t make that happen, it is. So when we are learning to pray and developing a prayer life, we are actually learning to be in relationship with God.

As children, our prayer life usually consists of concerns for others (prayers of intercession) or perhaps prayers of gratitude. These are good prayers and they are a good foundation for children to begin with. Over time, we start to learn that prayer is more than just asking God for things or praising God for his gifts and blessings- it needs to be a conversation. In other words, we need to learn to listen.

Prayer becomes a conversation with God where we slowly, painfully, learn  that God is speaking to us all the time. Then it hits us that we could be speaking with God all the time too. This is where Paul comes in and reminds us that we should “pray without ceasing”. Prayer is this constant connection with God.

This is where that ol’ “You have two ears and one mouth because you are meant to listen twice as much as you talk” saying comes in. I have to admit, I am no where close to perfecting this practice.

What I have learned recently is that living in relationship with God, having a unceasing prayer life, is respiration. I’ve written before that the Hebrew word for “Spirit” is “Ruach” which means “Breath”. It is God who “Breathed” life into Adam in narrative of how the world was Created. Even prophets of old would “pass” the Spirit of God to their successors by breathing on them. Breath…

Spiritual Respiration is realizing that God is breathing life into us all the time. This isn’t that difficult to imagine for some, but what is challenging is the understanding that we too, have the choice to breathe life into God. This is a giving and receiving from both God and me. We are breathing together. In and out, in and out.

This relationship we have is meant to be mutual. I am not just taking God’s breath and living off of it. I have to breathe out and in breathing out, I can choose to let my breath breathe life into God.

This is a tough idea for some. How can my breath breathe life into God?

I think it is more than that. My life becomes HIS life giving force. My intentions become for Him. My heart breaks and restores like his. God breathes his life and goodness into me and I breathe his life and goodness into the world. In and out, in and out. 

This respiration begins as a give-and-take the way we also think about love in the early stages of faith. God shows me love, I show God love. However, love is something that simple is. It is never actually in deficit or overdrive, it is love. You can become love. You can't actually "give" or "receive" love. You are love, created by the One who is Love.

  In the same way, as breathing becomes a daily practice, you start to understand that you are not in a relationship of giving and taking, but you are in a relationship of being. This breathing becomes like the wind, the Spirit, continuously and fully rolling through the created world pressing Life upon all that you are and all that you encounter.

This is Spiritual Respiration.

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