Updated: Jan 30, 2021
I read something the other day about the revered and unspeakable Hebrew name of God, YHWH. In that language the vowels are kind of assumed (something like that...more or less) ... basically, the consonants that when spoken have the sound of breath. It got me thinking about breathing and breath, this on going cycle that is involved in all aspects of our lives. Breath expresses joy through laughter, sadness through sighing, fear by being held and relaxation by slowing down. It feeds the tiniest of cells that we are built with. Breath brings about healing and marks the beginning and the end of life.
The sound of our exhale breath is a quiet, gentle Ha. It is the first syllable of ha-llelu-jah... which means Praise the Lord. Every breath we take in returns an exhale as a quiet, subtle expression of praise to God. Ha! We do it automatically about 23,000 times per day, even when we sleep we praise God with the sound of our breath. Psalm 150:6 says "Let every breath praise the Lord." ...and it does. And, it makes me laugh a bit that even those who deny the existence of God can't help but praise him just as they breathe. ... a Holy Gotcha.
As I understand it, no matter what language the Bible is translated into the word hallelujah has the same pronunciation. Praise of God is the universal language…it is the language of the human spirit. It was hardwired into human beings when God created man and breathed the breath of life into Adam. We all speak with that same breath of life as we simply exhale. Ha-llelu-jah.
Our breath cycle is a relationship we have with God, connected with him. We breathe in what is necessary for not just our physical life, but our spiritual life as well. We inhale the grace of God. We breathe in God’s grace and love. It’s something we receive from outside of ourselves because we can’t produce it. Love and Grace is God given. So we breathe it in. And, we exhale. We exhale our praise to God. It comes from within us. Praise is what we give. It’s what we offer back to him.
So, that's how it was created and intended to work, but in our human, broken down, sinful nature, this "holy" breath ends up being misused and perverted like so many other things. Like sex, created for the bond marriage, we use for selfish pleasure. Authority, meant to be used as an umbrella of protection over those under it, is perverted and abused as power. The provision of resources is perverted by greed and hoarding wealth is the result rather than sharing in the care of the broken and needy. And this holy breath is perverted when we use our air to speak hate instead of love and death instead of life... when our exhale is a murmur or curse "under our breath" instead of the soft "ha" of praise returned to him.
My prayer today:
Lord, YHWH, I marvel at your miraculous, detailed, intentional, majestic, genius creation. You breathed life, your breath, your spirit into us to give us life. When I need strength gathered, or when I am facing fear or anxiety... when I am tense or in physical or emotional pain, you have provided for the summoning of healing breath, full of your spirit life. It strengthens, it brings peace, it revitalizes body and soul. It heals. And then I exhale...
You made our exhale to have the sound of praise and glory to you. But, the choice is mine. Oh God, Let my exhale be ONLY your praise! In the same way I hunger for and revere the breath in that gives me life, let me revere the breath out. Help me to be mindful and intentional and not misuse it for anything other than praise... an expression of gratitude... an acknowledgement of your glory... a reflection of your love.