For those of us old enough to remember, it was a huge deal when airplanes finally could fly fast enough to break what they called “the sound barrier”—when they could fly faster than the speed of sound. Here’s an article by the ever-available Wikipedia that speaks about it.
The sound barrier or sonic barrier is the large increase in aerodynamic drag and other undesirable effects experienced by an aircraft or other object when it approaches the speed of sound. When aircraft first approached the speed of sound, these effects were seen as constituting a barrier, making faster speeds very difficult or impossible. The term sound barrier is still sometimes used today to refer to aircraft approaching supersonic flight in this high drag regime. Flying faster than sound produces a sonic boom.
In dry air at 20 °C (68 °F), the speed of sound is 343 metres per second (about 767 mph, 1234 km/h or 1,125 ft/s). The term came into use during World War II when pilots of high-speed fighter aircraft experienced the effects of compressibility, a number of adverse aerodynamic effects that deterred further acceleration, seemingly impeding flight at speeds close to the speed of sound. These difficulties represented a barrier to flying at faster speeds. In 1947, American test pilot Chuck Yeager demonstrated that safe flight at the speed of sound was achievable in purpose-designed aircraft, thereby breaking the barrier. By the 1950s, new designs of fighter aircraft routinely reached the speed of sound, and faster.
In our desires to become true “hot spots” of the Holy Spirit, there is a major barrier we have to learn to break—I’ve come to call it “The Prayer Barrier.”
Here’s what it looked like for me.
For years, I would just “say” prayers rather than pray prayers. I would pray words I memorized, like the Lord’s Prayer, and couple it with a few more memorized phrases, and I was done.
But finally, the Lord began to really teach me how to pray. There was something I wanted, and really wanted it badly. It was at a relatively young time, in my life, and I remember, and I remember wanting so desperately wanting to fit in better with classmates in school. As an immigrant kid of a very segregated culture (Greek-American), we didn’t exactly “fit in” at school. And I wanted to fit in. And I wanted it bad enough that God helped me break the “prayer barrier.”
I started to ask God for specific things. Instead of just saying the same recited words (which, I would like to say, I don’t think is necessarily always bad), I started asking for things I knew were good to have, and things that I knew I wanted. Facing the truth that we were out-of-step immigrant kids, I wanted to be a regular American boy. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to belong. Like Pinocchio, I wanted to be a “real boy.” I prayed for that regularly that summer.
I didn’t believe that the reason I didn’t belong was just that “they” were mean to me. I believed there were things I could be and do better. And I began asking God for help with that. l began praying prayers instead of just saying prayers. And guess what? God answered.
I went from being the big-eyed, buzz-headed immigrant boy Jimmie (named, embarrassingly, after the leader of the Mickey Mouse Club who spelled his name with an “ie”) to the more masculine and cooler Jim. And this “Jim” was a surprise to many. Kids who knew me in the earlier grades didn’t recognize the sixth-grade Jim. The new Jim was popular with a vengeance. A Beatles haircut was just the right touch for my big-eyed triangular little Eastern European face. The girls thought I was cute. The guys thought I was smart and funny. I began to belong. And I knew where that belonging came from.
I had broken the “prayer barrier.” And as time went on, even after special needs weren’t necessarily at the forefront, the need to pray was.
When the disciples finally asked Jesus a “how to” question, they didn’t ask him “How do you perform a miracle” or “How do you walk on water.” They simply asked, “Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11).” Because guess what? That’s what Jesus did, all the time. And they recognized it as a replenishing source of the fullness of the Spirit in Him
After a day of heavy-duty healing, read the account of how Jesus got up early in the morning, probably tip-toed over the snoring disciples, and found an isolated place where he went to pray. When he was coming up out of the water at his own baptism, as he prayed, “he” saw the Holy Spirit coming down on him as a dove (Mark 1, Matthew 4, Luke 3). When he went up a mountain with Peter, James, and John he prayed (Luke 9:28-36). And as he was praying, he was transfigured. He became a radiant Christian, one imbued with the power of the light-bringing Holy Spirit.
Jesus was a Holy Spirit hot spot. And I think, in part, it was so evident through his human nature because he always broke the prayer barrier. Even when he was too busy, even when crowds were demanding his presence, he was never too busy to pray.
Like Martin Luther is reported to have said in his life, he was so busy he had to pray!
It’s a secret for becoming a radiant Christian that can infect with the life of God in the Marketplace, and beyond.
It’s a secret that will help you always be a Holy Spirit Hot Spot.
Learning how to pray prayers and not just say prayers. And learning how to pray like Jesus did a lot more than we’re accustomed to, and regularly.