“Deep Sea Diver” by TolyanMy
Connecting With God
While I was working my way through college, my buddy Dean was hitchhiking his way up Pacific Coast Highway. A few years later, I had a shiny new bachelor’s degree and was selling encyclopedias for minimum wage. And Dean was making massive amounts of money. Wait–what?
Deep sea diving! I pictured him battling giant squids. The reality was slightly less exotic, but still pretty cool: he was salvaging lost cargo. “Why so much money?” I asked.
“Because it’s dangerous. You can’t wear scuba gear ‘cause it’s too deep and you’re down there too long. And if anything cuts off your air…”
“Exactly. That’s why you can’t do it alone. One guy goes down while the other one stays up top monitoring the air flow. You gotta have enough pressure or the ocean will crush you. And all the time you’re down there, you gotta keep checking your hose, making sure there’s no kinks–the guy up top can’t do it for you. You gotta have new air constantly. You can’t keep breathing the same air. You’re in an environment you weren’t made for.”
Dean eventually moved on. And so did I. I knocked around for a few years trying to find myself. Then one day I realized it wasn’t me I was looking for; it was the one who made me. God was out there somewhere, I decided. But he seemed so far away, so alien.
Then I remembered Dean’s words, “You’re in an environment you weren’t made for,” and I realized God wasn’t the alien, I was. We humans have become disconnected from our Source, our “air.” We’ve turned our world into an alien, hostile einvironment, and there’s only one thing that can revive us: Prayer.
Prayer is air!
First of all, “You can’t do it alone.” Just as deep sea divers can’t survive without someone “up top,” spiritual beings can’t survive without a connection to their Creator. Prayer isn’t some self-contained motivational technique, it’s a connection. There’s no such thing as a self-contained “scuba prayer.” Without the countering pressure of God’s Spirit,* the ocean, “the cares of this world” (Mark 4:19), will crush us.
Second, “You gotta keep checking your hose, making sure there’s no kinks.” There are so many things that can affect the flow of God’s word and presence in our lives. We must continually remind ourselves that nothing is as important as that life-giving flow.
Third, “You gotta have new air constantly. You can’t keep breathing the same air.” Like any other form of communication, prayer is only as healthy as it is fresh. If you’re going on old prayers, your oxygen is running out!
Finally, “You’re in an environment you weren’t made for.” We’re “aliens and strangers in this world” (1 Peter 2:11). Prayer is not the norm, the worship of everything but God is, especially self. “You shall be as God,” says the serpent in Genesis 3:5, and that has been the world’s dominant belief system ever since. The hose-kinking, life-sucking result of which is spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1).
Prayer is air. Yes, it’s hard to pray in an environment that is hostile to prayer, that views it as naïve and even dangerous. But pray anyway. Pray as if your life depended upon it.
Because it does.
*Interestingly, Pneuma, the Greek word for Spirit, also means “breath” and is the source of the word pneumatics—pressurized air!