As long as my breath is in me
and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,
my lips will not speak falsehood,
and my tongue will not utter deceit.
As a boy I imaged God as ‘way up there’! I was sure God was high above my bedroom ceiling through which I attempted to launch prayer. I knew He was higher than the mountains, higher than the blue sky and moon. Even on Sunday in church I thought God was looking down on us from way up high. For me that meant God was also personally far above me and emotionally distant. It was hard for me to think of God as caring about my everyday life and problems if He kept Himself so far away.
Then, to paraphrase Paul, when I became a man, I put away childish things and thoughts about God. I began to see, both in scripture and in life, that God is intimately present to us. In today’s scripture Job teaches that God is in this breath we are taking, and the next breath and the next: “As long my breath is in me and the spirit of God is in my nostrils….” The very breath we are breathing is the Spirit of God breathing life into us! We are breathing in more than just oxygen, carbon dioxide and argon, we are breathing God’s breath! That’s how close God makes Himself to you!
If we have missed the indescribable closeness of God described in today’s Scripture, we would find it the first page of the Bible: “The LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). Adam was but inert dust until God breathed life into Him. And God kept breathing life into him until the moment Adam breathed his last. And that is true of you and me as God breathes life into us, until the moment we breathe eternity’s air.
How do you think of God? How do you image Him? Is God far away? He is as St. Augustine said, closer to you than you are to yourself! The breath you draw in this moment is God breathing into you. That’s how very close the God is in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
These incredible words of Job about the Spirit of God being in our very breath leads me to pray in a way I find very meaningful. You might like to try it! I like to pray like this while sitting relaxed in a chair, or in the middle of the night in bed.
- I begin by slowly taking in a few deep breaths in order to relax and become still. [I learned breathing like this with patients in the hospital ER, to help them calm by drawing some deep breaths. It works! ]
- After slowly taken some deep breaths, I then breathe in, and image God saying to me, “I love you.”
- I return God’s breath to Him, saying back to Him, “I love you.”
- I repeat this for the next several moments, drawing in God’s loving breath of “I love you”, and loving Him back!
A fellow traveler,