Praise the Lord for Every BreathDecember 1, 2013 - 5:00 am
“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.”—Psalm 150:6
Recently, millions of Americans celebrated Thanksgiving — a time to focus on our blessings and express our gratitude for all the good things in our lives. Thankfully, we have much to be grateful for in life. But here’s something that you might not have considered: The blessing of yet another breath.
Breathing is something nearly everyone takes for granted. It’s the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do when we die. We do it even when we are sleeping or when we aren’t thinking about it. It’s an automatic blessing that we receive all the time. So it’s no wonder that people take little notice of it and underestimate the gift that it really is.
The ability to breathe is our chance at another day. It is literally the gift of life. When God brought Adam to life, He breathed into his nostrils (Genesis 2:7). Breathing is life. However, the Sages point out that breathing is connected not only to the physical act of living, but also to our spiritual vitality. In Hebrew, the word for “breath,” neshima, is almost the same as the word for “soul,” neshama. This is because when we breathe, we connect with our soul.
Try it. Breathe deeply and slowly. You will immediately notice what doctors and mental health professionals have been telling us for years. Breathing deeply calms us and quiets the mind while putting us in touch with our innermost thoughts and feelings. We are better focused and more centered when we take the time to breathe deeply. We literally breathe in God’s life force, and the more we breathe in, the better our living will be.
Psalm 150, the very last psalm, is about praising God and being thankful. The last line reads, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.” However, the Sages teach that the verse can also be read “Praise the LORD for every breath.” King David’s parting message to us is to be grateful for everything that we have, starting with the ability to take our next breath.
Although the book of Psalms is mostly about praising God for our blessings, the truth is that most people turn to it during times of trouble. However, the last verse reminds us that no matter how difficult our circumstances, we can always be grateful for our ability to breathe and the fact that we are alive. As long as we are living we can hope, fix, change, and grow. When we are thankful for our breath, we can be grateful for everything.
Praise the Lord!