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More About Jesus

What is Prayer?

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Talk to Your Friend!

Chestnut treeHave you ever been unable to breathe? When I was a young boy there was a Horse Chestnut tree across the street from my home. It was a great climbing tree--tall with big branches! But, the first branch was more than six feet off the ground (when you're only three feet eleven inches tall, that's a problem). Once I fell from that first branch and landed flat on my back. The wind was knocked out of me. This had never happened to me before. It was a panic sort of situation. I couldn't breath and I hurt. I thought I was going to die!

Sometimes, we try to hold our breath. One summer, during my college years, a friend and I did "overseas mission service" in Hawaii (hey, someone had to do it). We often were able to arrange our schedules to go snorkeling in the afternoons (we worked hard mornings and evenings). On one such occasion, I saw something at the bottom I wanted. It didn't appear too far down so I took a deep breath and dove. It was further than I realized.

diverAs I approached the bottom my body screamed "breathe." I lost interest in whatever it was that I had gone down for and frantically headed for the surface--it seemed a lot further coming up than it had going down! At the surface I drew in a deep breath anticipating the feeling of air only to discover that my snorkel was still full of water!! While it is true that water is largely composed of oxygen, it doesn't feel the same in the lungs.

How important is breathing to you? I discovered it's really important to me!! After much contemplation, I have found the following facts about breathing to be true:

  • When you breathe normally you tend not to notice it. Even so, the oxygen you are taking in is supporting your life.
  • If something gets in the way of breathing, the only security is to drop everything else and take care of it--if you stop breathing for very long other things stop being important!
  • What you breathe is important. Breathing is to bring oxygen into your body. Breathing the wrong things can be fatal. Breathing is the only means of getting oxygen into your body. Oxygen sustains life.
  • We are made for more than breathing. We are not just a giant lung--our bodies are made for activity. Unless we breathe, nothing else matters much. When we breath, all sorts of opportunities are available.
  • For the most part you have to breathe for yourself. Life can be supported in an emergency by respirators or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; however, the goal of even these procedures is to get you breathing again.
  • One big breath in the morning along with some little breaths at mealtime is not sufficient to sustain life!

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul says to "pray continually." Sounds a bit like breathing doesn't it? Perhaps that's why some Christian authors refer to prayer as the "Breath of the soul." Could prayer be as important to our spiritual life as breathing is to our physical life? Could the facts we noticed about breathing hold true for praying as well? Look at them again with that in mind; then, turn the page to see what the Bible has to say.

"Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (The Amplified Bible)


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Lesson 4 - Introduction
Copyright 1995, Lee Venden and Thure Martinsen