Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18)
Take a deep breath. Feel your lungs expand. Your shoulders rise, chest out. You are full of healthy, clean air. Breathing is automatic. Hundreds of thousands of times per day, air enters your body and nourishes you with oxygen. Paul meant for praying to be like breathing.
When we walk by faith, it requires breathing. When I climb a hill or walk down a path, my breath matches the speed of my walk. The faster I walk, the quicker I breathe. Walking, or at times running in faith, you will need a deeper prayer life.
Paul told the Thessalonian Christians to “pray without ceasing.” I’m confident you know it does not mean we walk or drive with our head down and eyes closed. If we did, we might meet the Lord quicker than intended.
For the most part, we are not aware of our breathing. You don’t have to tell yourself to breathe. It happens naturally and continuously. For Christians who walk by faith in the Lord, prayer becomes automatic and natural. Along your walk with Christ, God’s spirit flows in and out of your life, nourishing you for your journey. Praying becomes as natural as talking with your closest friend.
Life pushes many of us down the road faster than we would prefer to go. We are spiritually winded and need to catch our breath. We’re so busy, we think we don’t have time to pray, and we choke out our spirit and shorten our journey. Take a moment to catch your spiritual breath.
Worshiping with your congregation is time to take a long deep breath. When we join for singing, praying, and hearing the scriptures taught by capable individuals, we can catch our breath. But what about Monday through Saturday?
When we wake up, give praise to God for rest and for the beauty of a new day of opportunity. Thank God for the comfortable bed, hot shower, and clothes to cover your body. Pray for your neighbors when you pull out of the driveway and ask God to bless the homes and businesses you pass on the way to work or school. Give praise to God for the blue sky, white clouds, and the light given by the Sun. Listen to the birds sing their praise to God. See how the flowers reach up to heaven to show their beauty as praise. Notice how the trees stretch out their arms in glory to their creator.
When I see all the beauty of the world, it changes my outlook on life. My worries and concerns do not seem to be as heavy to carry. I realize God has all of my worries in His care. Now, with this mindset, I can talk to God with every step I take along my faith journey of discipleship.
When we take a breath, we inhale nourishing oxygen, some carbon dioxide, and many other trace elements. When we exhale, we release a tiny bit of unused oxygen and a large amount of carbon dioxide. Along with all that breath, we exhale other impurities from inside the body. The remnants of nutrients used by our muscles go back into the blood and filtered out of the body by one of several methods. One of those is through the air you exhale.
When we feel stressed, angry, or worried, take a breath, hold it for a moment, and exhale all these harmful thoughts or feelings. Inhale, and imagine God’s presence filling you. Prayer will cleanse your spiritual body just as breathing cleanses your physical body.
Memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 and let your constant breathing remind you to talk to God along the journey. Exhale all your worries, and inhale all the good things God has for you. As you walk in the path of discipleship, you will stay in constant communication with your Savior.