Have you ever noticed the chemical composition of the air you breathe?
That's not something any of us spend any time thinking about.
If the chemical composition of the air dramatically changed, however (i.e. suddenly there was a significant increase in carbon-monoxide in the room), you would quickly feel its effect in your body.
Think about the countless things that you experience each day that affect you. Food choices, environmental factors, physical and emotional stress and a countless number of other factors affect you daily but you are often completely unaware of it. What about spiritual realities? Do they also have an effect upon us without our knowing?
You walk into a room and suddenly your mood changes for the worse. There are no natural reasons for it but something changed when you walked in. You can blame it on any number of environmental factors but have you ever considered the spiritual factors? If walking into an air-conditioned home on a hot day is a natural way to experience a changed atmosphere, have you ever considered the implications of walking into a changed spiritual atmosphere?
It seems bizarre to talk about something that you cannot physically feel. There is no way to scientifically measure a spiritual atmosphere (at least, not any I know of) but those of us who have been believers for a while know that spiritual atmospheres are real. Not only are they real, we also have the capacity to dynamically interact with them.
Have you ever felt oppressed and then as soon as someone prayed for you the oppression left? That was someone shifting your spiritual atmosphere by redirecting your attention to God. It happened for Saul when a young boy named David played his lyre.
"It happened that when the evil spirit from God came on Saul, David would take the lyre in his hand and play. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him" (1 Sam. 16:23).
David was able to interact with the spiritual dynamic that existed and change it. If that ability was available for David, how much more is it available for a son of God that carries the indwelling Holy Spirit? So, if we have the capacity to change the spiritual atmosphere at any moment, why don't we do it more?
Simply put, we lack the discipline of awareness.
To be consciously aware of what is taking place on a spiritual level at any given moment takes discipline. In the same way that we learn the dynamics of awareness in life regarding many different things, we must learn spiritual awareness also. We must attune our spiritual senses to what is taking place so that we can use the right tools in the right situations. Just as David knew that music would soothe Saul's troubled mind, we must also know what is necessary in various situations to shift the spiritual atmosphere.
Sometimes it is a simple as acknowledging the presence of the Lord. It is no accident that the times I feel the presence of the Lord are when I acknowledge Him. His nearness is constant, but my awareness is not. That's why we sense His presence in what we would call "worship". Not because He is any more present at that time, but simply because we are.
Spend some time this week purposefully engaging your spiritual senses. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of what is taking place and then invite the presence of Jesus to shift things that are not right.
The more we become aware of His presence, the more we can live in a place of hope and expectation. Why? Because, when we are conscious of it, we realize we are dynamically connected with the ever present God of hope. That changes everything.
Ben Woodward is a worship leader, speaker, author and songwriter from Australia. As you will find out by reading his book You Shall Know the Truth, he is passionate about helping people discover Jesus through worship and prayer. He lives in Kansas City with his wife, Kathryn, and three children, Eliana, Cohen and Paisley.
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