In our modern, technologically savvy culture, we take water for granted don’t we? It’s everywhere – in homes, in schools, in malls, available at the flip of a handle. In fact, I’m always pretty offended whenever someone tries to charge me for water at a restaurant, as if it should just be delivered free to my table! We all take it for granted, until it’s almost gone.
If you’re in Atlanta, you remember a few years ago when the local drought threatened our water supply. My daily commute at the time took me past Lake Lanier every day, and I could see the water level sinking inch by inch, until all the docks were on dry land and the red Georgia clay was exposed. What happened? People panicked, news cameras were rolling nonstop at government offices. There was a ban on watering your yard, even an argument between the governors of Georgia and Alabama over who had the right to control the flow of the river! It quickly got out of hand.
We don’t realize how essential water is until it’s gone. We don’t realize how we see it, taste it, rely on it every day, without thinking. Everything we drink is flavored water, from your morning coffee to Atlanta’s beloved Coca Cola. Every food we eat contains some form of water, and was probably cooked in it. We wash with it, brush our teeth with it, swim in it, can’t live without it. Coleridge was right. It really is “water, water everywhere.”
So when it comes to spiritual thirst, why is it that I imagine my thirst for God should be quenched by some one-time deluge of spiritual nourishment? Why is it that I assume a spiritual event, or service, or retreat, or sermon, will satisfy my thirst for days and weeks on end? Why don’t I assume that, just like physical water, I can’t rely simply on one dose of spiritual nourishment per week, or even per day?
Often, when I think about spiritual thirst and how I need to develop more of a thirst for God, I think about a daily Quiet Time. Of course, a daily time with God is extremely important, but what if we viewed our physical thirst this way? What if we could only drink water for 15 minutes each morning? How well would that sustain us through the day? And yet, that’s how I typically view my spiritual interaction with God, one big gulp at the beginning of my day.
Several years ago, Michael Zigarelli conducted a study to see which Spiritual Disciplines had the biggest impact on actually transforming our lives into producing the fruit of the Spirit. What surprised me was that the most effective Discipline wasn’t Bible Study. It wasn’t solitude, fasting, serving others, memorizing scripture, reading a devotional, or any of the things I typically turn to in my spiritual thirst. It was prayer, five or more times each day. Praying at least five times per day, even if they’re just short, “Help, me, Lord!” prayers, has the greatest impact on our spiritual growth. It seems Paul had something right when he urged us to “pray continually” (I Thessalonians 5:17)
Maybe, just like water, the importance of praying regularly throughout the day is the fact that it keeps us close to the faucet. Even simple, short, written prayers that we recite throughout the day can help us break out of our normal routines and remember that we are desperately in need of God. Just like Atlantans learned a few years ago, simple prayers help remind us of how dependent we are on Christ to live in this world.
So what does this mean for us today? Well, if you’re like me and you often get to a spiritually dry place, or even if you want to experience a deeper sense of Christ’s presence in your life, maybe try a few drinks of “water” throughout the day. Set some alarms on your phone, and say a quick prayer. Pray whenever you start your car, or whenever you open a door, or whenever you take a drink of…you guessed it…water. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or lengthy, just enough to remind us of who we really rely on.
When I stop and need a moment, I often turn to the Jesus Prayer; an ancient prayer used by Christians for hundreds of years. It’s incredibly simple:
“Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
So give it a shot. Today, take a few minutes throughout the day, and say a quick prayer. Pray for something that you’re working on or going through, ask for God’s help before a meeting or a phone call, or even recite the Jesus prayer. Whenever we pause in our daily lives and drink a bit of Living Water, it will begin to quench our deepest thirst.
Eddie most recently served for five years on staff at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. He had the privilege of pastoring a large team of musicians and worship leaders as well as helping to plan and coordinate Sunday services. Eddie has also served on the staff of Passion Conferences and has worked nationally as a worship leader and recording artist. Forever a nerd at heart, he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Learn more at eddiekirklandwrites.com, or follow him @eddiekirkland.