I can’t breathe

Don’t worry, I haven’t got pneumonia or any other virus. I’m speaking in metaphors.

I’ll explain in a moment, but first… if you go to the doctor and he or she says “Deep breaths, please,” so they can listen to your lungs, most people don’t say, “I’m sorry, I’m not good at breathing. In fact, I hardly ever breathe, I don’t really have the gift or the appetite for it.”

And yet, this is exactly the kind of response I’ve been giving myself when challenged to pray! (And recently I’ve seen challenges to pray almost daily – maybe God’s telling me something?)

I’ve believed the lie that prayer is difficult, and I don’t have the appetite for it, or perhaps the gift!

IT’S NOT TRUE!

Prayer is as natural as breathing. In fact, as Marie Barnett writes, “This is the air I breathe, Your Holy Presence living in me.” To be in His presence is to breathe prayer.

Prayer is not bringing a shopping list of requests to some distant god hoping He’ll see fit to answer. Or even asking the God you know and love to do this or that.

Prayer may include requests, but I believe it starts with worship, to which a few requests may be added as the Spirit guides and inspires. After all, Jesus tells us that our Father already knows everything we need so we can keep it simple.

Prayer is like talking to a dear friend, spouse, brother, sister, father, mother – sometimes with words and sometimes just sitting in silence enjoying each other’s company.

But, you may protest, I don’t know how to get into His presence! Someone once pointed me to the psalm that holds the key, though I had previously understood it differently.

Prayer is like talking to a dear friend, spouse, brother, sister, father, mother – sometimes with words and sometimes just sitting in silence enjoying each other’s company.

In Psalm 100 we read this: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise his name.”

I had understood this as an instruction, and maybe it is, but it can also be read as the key to coming into His presence: first thanksgiving, then praise.

This is not theoretical; I do this and it really does bring me into His presence.

And even now we have so much to be thankful for:

“Thank you Father for family, friends, home, food, warmth, and – above all – for your incredible love for me! I am faithless, but you are faithful. I deserve nothing from you, but you gave up your life in Jesus to reconcile me and indeed the whole cosmos to yourself. And now you are with me forever! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Just typing that inspires me – breathes His presence into me.

Try it for yourself.

Now!

So, next time you find yourself believing the lie (guess who is putting that in your mind) that you can’t pray – or not very well – take some time to enter his gates with thanksgiving and then move into his courts with praise and see how your heart comes alive and you find yourself praying without realising it.

It’s easy – as natural as breathing – and it will change your life!

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