About midway through every winter I feel the need for fresh air. How about you? By the time January arrives I really miss the smell of the outdoors and the pleasant sensation of the sun on my skin. That’s why Kristi and I schedule a short trip to a warm destination after Christmas. The fresh air makes us feel better, both physically and spiritually.
Just as our bodies need fresh air to thrive, our spirits need "spritual fresh air," too. Without it, our lives become stale and stagnant. They lack joy and meaning.
We’ve all had times when we struggled to “breathe” spiritually. When that happens we often think more effort is the key to getting better. And who came blame us for thinking that way? Just about everywhere we hear that "hard work conquers all."
But life in Christ is not designed that way. Sure, God expects us to work. But his plan is to change us from the inside out. We work because of the new life he’s put inside us!
Take a look at this statement the Apostle Paul wrote while he was in prison:
“May the Lord bless Onesiphorus and all his family because he visited me and encouraged me often. His visits revived me like a breath of fresh air.”
– 2 Timothy 1:16 (TLB)
When you find yourself struggling for spiritual breath…let God resuscitate you from the inside. How? Stop trying to work your way into his good graces and start receiving what Christ has already done for you!
A popular teaching during my college years said people should pray for an hour every day. This practice was inspired by events just before Jesus died. Christ and his disciples went to a garden to pray, but the disciples fell asleep. Jesus challenged them by asking “could you not tarry with me for one hour?”
Inspired by this teaching, I committed to praying one hour every day. That commitment didn’t last long. Instead of enjoying time with my Father, I approached prayer as a task to be completed. Every day my focus was on lasting the entire hour. Those 60 minutes seemed like an eternity. Prayer became such a drag that I quit.
Where did I go wrong? My approach was completely backward! By thinking that “doing more” was the key, I missed the entire point of prayer, and wandered into an even more stagnant place in life.
I failed to realize that prayer is an awesome privilege. Think about it: we get to be in the presence of our heavenly Father, the King of Everything. Our top priority when praying is to experience the pleasure of his presence. Prayer time doesn’t have to be filled with requests. In fact, there are times we don’t need to speak at all.
2 Peter 1:3 is one of my favorite verses. It says:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
– 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
Did you notice what Peter said: we have been given everything we need. How do you react when someone offers a gift? You go to the giver and receive it!
God’s gifts are received the same way. You step into his presence and accept them. When you do that, you begin to experience spiritual “fresh air” again.
The next time you begin to think you need try harder and do more, go and spend some time with your Father. Bask in his presence and take some deep "spiritual breaths." You’ll be surprised by the difference it makes.