Disclaimer: This post is not a sponsored post.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”John 4:24, NIV.
How do we pray? How do we serve? If we are praying with our mind, if we are serving with our limited strength, we might be doing it wrong.
When we serve God, we do not do it with our own strength. Rather, when we serve God, we “serve God by His Spirit” (Philippians 3:3, NIV). Likewise, when we pray, we do not pray with our mind. Rather, we are called to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18, NIV). In essence, we serve God by allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work through our physical body. We do not use our own physical strength. Rather, we serve God with the strength He has provided us. He has “equipped us with everything good for doing His will” and He will “work in us” to “please Him, through Jesus Christ” (ref: Hebrews 13:21, NIV). Likewise, when we pray, we are called to put aside the physical aspects of our bodies (both mind and matter) and dive into the state of spiritual consciousness where we connect with the overarching consciousness of the Universe — God.
In the gospel of John, Jesus taught us that God is a Spirit (John 4:24). This Spirit “blows wherever it pleases”. We can “hear its sound, but we cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going” (John 3:8, NIV). In other words, as invisible as the wind, the Spirit of God and its Kingdom are all “unseen”. And because they are “unseen”, they are “eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). We are called to enter into the Spirit and abide in Him as He abides with us in our spirit. Only this way will we be able to bear fruit (ref: John 15:4). Just as Christ abides in God the Father in the Spirit through love, Christ is calling us to “remain in His Love”, in the Spirit (ref: John 15:9). As we enter into peaceful fellowship with God, in the Spirit, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, NIV). And in the Spirit, Jesus will make known to us everything that He has learned from the Father to us (ref: John 15:15, NIV).
You may ask, how then do we know if we are praying in the Spirit? To be honest, I think that there is no one right answer. I prefer to think that God works in each and everyone of us differently and hence, the steps one may take may differ from one to another. But here’s the thing: praying in the Spirit can have may have certain physiological manifestations that can be visualised with a normal health tracker — like a Fitbit.
Physiological Manifestations of Prayer
A normal health tracker, say a Fitbit, consists of functions such as heartbeat monitor and sleep tracking. Such technology gives us the unprecedented ability to monitor our bodily status with accuracy. It is also because of such technology that enables us to take a sneak peak into what our body does when we worship God and when we pray.
Prayer versus Sleep
I pointed out the heartbeat monitor and sleep tracking functions because they are the two functions that is relevant to our analysis on prayer. Our heart beats to an average beat during the day. Maybe slightly higher when we experience intense activity and slightly slower when we’re resting. But what about prayers? When we pray in the Spirit, we surrender our physical control of our body to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit takes control and a peace that transcends understanding will fill our heart. Intuitively, it should slow down our heart beat significantly.
Likewise for the sleep tracker. When our body voluntarily gives up control to the Holy Spirit, the sleep tracker drops not into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep or light sleep, but into the state of “deep sleep”.
Below are two sample data of Sleep
In the above sample data of my sleep, we see that the sleep tracker does not drop directly into the state of deep sleep. On the right, my heart rate decreases slowly as the body prepares itself for the rest it is getting for the night. However, the data collected for prayers differs slightly.
Below are two sample data of Prayer before sleep
For prayers, the body surrenders itself from normal bodily functions into a state of peace in an accelerated timeframe. The speed one enters into the “peace” of God varies from people to people and are dependent on a number of factors such as reconciliation with others (ref: Matthew 5:23-24), unresolved anger with others (ref: Matthew 5:22), adulterous or lustful thoughts (ref: Matthew 5:28), a sense of irritation caused by an enemy (ref: Matthew 5:44-45), etc. Once we have repented, we will find rest in God’s salvation. When we have repented and found rest, we will gain strength from God in quietness and trust in God (ref: Isaiah 30:15).
Repentance and the drop into a state of quietness in prayer can be statistically observed and measured through the sudden decrease of heart activities and bodily movement. Contrary to prayer, normal sleep can be identified in the form of higher heart rate variations and bodily movement.
Of course, I have not done this experiment with others and I know that the different stages of spiritual maturity as well as differing understanding of prayers may affect the reading. But it is something we can ponder upon and an experiment we can conduct during this period of COVID-19 in the comfort of our home.
So here, I urge everyone, try this. “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6, NIV), “and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, NIV).
Oh, and don’t forget to wear your Fitbit. 😊Image by Raman Talpada from Pixabay
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