Core Christian Beliefs

Are You Spiritually Sleeping?

Breathing in the power of the Holy Spirit

Rich Atkinson

Often, I wake up in the morning still feeling zombie tired.

Maybe it’s caused by too much caffeine consumption or going to bed too late, but sometimes I think I should partake in a sleep study to see if I have sleep apnea.

Yet if I found out I had this sleep disorder, would the cure be worse than the condition?

People treating sleep apnea are hooked up to a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. With all the research and stories I have heard, the CPAP mask and hose looks like a Darth Vader or an F-16 fighter pilot breathing apparatus. And it is about as cumbersome to wear.

So what does this have to do with spirituality?

At first, learning to use a CPAP machine can seem like more trouble than it is worth. And learning to walk with Christ can also seem difficult to do.

But learning to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit is the only way to really live the Christian life.

Cru has referred to this process as “spiritual breathing,” a metaphor to express the way to keep short accounts with God (confession) and remain empowered by the Holy Spirit. Unconfessed sin is literally like sleep apnea. The word “apnea” means breathless. In one account, a man with sleep apnea stopped breathing more than 80 times during the night.

Unconfessed sin can bring listlessness and lifelessness to our relationship with Christ, just as God’s desire is for us to have a restful sleep. He wants us to remain in fellowship with Him through spiritual breathing. Here are the steps of spiritual breathing and to staying in step with the Spirit.

1) Exhaling, or confession.

  • Agreeing with God that I have sinned including a specific confession.
  • Agreeing with God about His provision for my sin. He promises in 1 John 1:9 to provide His forgiveness and complete cleansing, in spite of ourselves.
  • Repenting and turning away from my sin.

2) Inhaling, and appropriating the Holy Spirit’s power.

  • Trusting God’s Spirit to empower me. It is amazing when I maintain this fellowship with God, how He directs me. It is about relying on and surrendering my will to Him. Ephesians 5:18 commands me to “be filled with the Spirit” and to let it influence me.

As Christians, the Holy Spirit never leaves us. So, asking God to fill us with His Spirit is really more of yielding to Him instead of what I want.

I can thank Him for empowering me, even if I don’t feel different after my prayer, because of 1 John 5:14, 15: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

In learning to walk in the power of the Spirit, remember, it takes time.

But just like adjusting to using a CPAP machine for your sleep apnea condition, remaining in connection with God through confession and being empowered by the Spirit will help with our sin condition.

Spiritual breathing will help us live a life acceptable and pleasing to God.

Learn more about walking in the Spirit.

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