I do not know if anyone else here grew up with a mom who blamed every ailment on the need to drink more water, but I am sure I am not the only one who still has to make a conscious effort to down those eight glasses per day. Here’s the kicker with water intake: You can’t marathon it. You can’t drink hundreds of ounces over the weekend and expect that to carry you through a week of coffee and sodas. Hydration is a routine, a lifestyle.
A couple months ago, it came to me during prayer that perhaps God is also like water in this very practical sense. I do not expect to stay hydrated this week just because I met my water quota last week. But how often do I insist that I’ve prayed and read my Bible and I still can’t sense God in my situation–when in truth it has been three or four or ten days since I sought Him out?
This new perspective did not come to me as a judgment on my inconsistency, but rather a breath of relief, a gentler answer to my questions than I could have hoped. I am quick to blame bouts of shaky faith on huge, unrealized mistakes on my end, or to question the flavor of God’s goodness by attributing my struggles to “tests and trials.” Yet how many difficulties of faith might be solved as simply as childhood headaches and nausea on hot days when held up to the mom-test: “Well, have you had any water today?”
The nourishment we find in God is not a treat but an essential, as vital to the spirit as water is to the body. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice continually, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I do not think that this verse commands us to drop everything and cloister ourselves to seek and pray. It calls us to approach our daily lives in a new way.
When I fall victim to the nagging headaches and scratchy skin of chronic dehydration, I can’t remedy the problem by chugging a couple gallons of water over the course of an afternoon. I drink a glass. And then another glass. And the next day I do it again, until those absent-minded refills are not a health goal but a habit.
In the same way, finding peace in God has less to do with long-winded prayers and hour-long study sessions than with little sips of His grace throughout the day, every day. The habit is formed in the breaths of thanks, the nods to His presence, whispers and meditations between daydreams and heartbeats. Few things change a life like redefining the ordinary.