If you have ever spent time in a weight room, you may have noticed that many novice weight lifters hold their breath as they strain against gravity. It is a common practice that I have caught myself doing from time to time. It is also a stupid practice. Human muscles need oxygen. Holding our breath deprives them of oxygen and makes them weaker. We need to breathe.
A similar phenomenon can sometimes be noticed when watching someone jog. It is not uncommon to see an unexperienced runner taking rapid shallow breaths while pressing forward on the trail. This was a mistake I made when I first started jogging a few years ago. I still find myself making this basic mistake from time to time. It is an inefficient way to run. My body is big. It needs a lot of air. My lungs are big too. I am a fool if I do not use as much of them as possible. Deep breaths make for a less painful run.
It seems strange that when our bodies strain we tend to deprive them of the thing they need most. It does us no good to do so. We need air. We need lots of air. Without it we get week and become unable to do anything. Last year, when I was climbing a mountain, I pushed too hard for too long. At the top of the mountain I could not stand because my body needed more air than it was taking in. Without air, we put ourselves in danger.
When we need to breathe the most, we tend to not take the time to breathe. This can be true in our physical lives, but it tends to be true more often in our spiritual lives.
When we are straining against the busyness of life we tend to not have time to pray. When we are running hard trying to get everything done that we deem important, we forget to spend time in the Bible. We are too busy to spend time in worship. We are too busy to sit and listen to God. We are too busy to just breathe. We then wonder why we are so tired and week. We wonder why our walk with God seems to tire us out. It is because we are too busy to breathe.
Michael W. Smith wrote the lyrics, “This is the air I breathe, Your holy presence living in me.” The Holy Spirit, who lives in all believers, is our breath. The Greek word used in the Bible for “spirit” can also be translated as “breath.”
In our physical lives, we are always breathing. Breath is always in us unless we consciously keep it out by holding our breath. In the same way, the Holy Spirit is always in us as Christians. Yet, our breathing can become shallow. In the busyness of life, we can forget where the breath of life comes from. The results are a spiritual life that is weak, painful, and not able to stand.
The good news is, we can train ourselves to breath better. Weight lifters train themselves to breathe when they lift. Runners train themselves to take deep breaths when they run. Mountain climbers train themselves to walk strong in places where the air is thin. Christians can train themselves to breathe better spiritually as well.
Here are some practical ways to train your spirit to take deep breaths.
1) Spend time in the Bible every day.
2) Spend time praying every day.
3) Apply what you read to your life.
4) Keep doing it.
Remember, like breathing, this is not meant to be hard. Also, like breathing, you have to do it in a way that works best for you. The important thing is to breathe on a regular basis. Never be too busy that you forget to stop and take a breath.
Don’t forget to breathe.