“This is the air I breathe… Your Holy Presence living in me ” Michael W. Smith sings a worship song that starts with those words.
This morning I picked up Abingdon Press’s Wesley Study Bible: NRSV (2009) and it literally fell open to an article on John Wesley’s understanding of “Spiritual Respiration.” I immediately thought of Smith’s song and began hearing it in my mind as I read these words:
Our need for God can be compared to our need for air. We must breathe air in order to live physically, and we must breathe God in order to live spiritually. John Wesley uses this image of ‘spiritual respiration’ to help us think about the closeness we ought to have with God — constant and intimate connection. When God fills our lives the way that air fills our lungs, we are refreshed, alert, and energized for God’s work. The image also helps us to see what happens when we do not pay attention to that relationship. If we stop breathing God, we will lose the connection that is essential to our spiritual lives. Our relationship with God is not automatic the way our physical breathing is, so we have to concentrate on it through prayer, Bible study, worship, and other practices that help us cultivate our spiritual lives.
(from the Wesley Study Bible p. 753. It also refers to two of John Wesley’s sermons with this article: Sermon 45 “The New Birth” and Sermon 19 “The Great Privilege of Those Born of God.”)
No wonder Smith’s little song repeats, in and out like breathing, “I’m desperate for You” and “I’m lost without You.”
Oh God, I need you even MORE than I need to physically breathe air… and I get busy, even as a pastor, and sometimes get to doing things in ministry by habit or by necessity without seeking You first! Forgive me… and help me remember to BREATHE!