Prayer, Plain and Simple

February 3, 2010

Day 32

Weight: 198 lbs

Weight lost: -8 lbs


I don’t believe in magic; I do believe in miracles. I don’t believe in luck; I do believe in favor. I don’t believe in Karma; I do believe in Grace. I don’t believe in mystery; I do believe in wonder. I’m not spiritual; I am a follower of Jesus. I believe in the power of his name and the power of the presence of his words, down to earth, here and now. I eat his words as the food of my soul.

The New Testament uses two Greek words to describe “life.” Generally – most often – bios, from which we get “biology” means physical, animal life. Bios is the lifeforce that drives our bodies, and the bodies of moose and groundhogs and tiny ameba and redwood trees and the green algae on our backyard pond. Bios is what distinguishes mushrooms from rocks. It makes us common kin with chimps. I feed my bios with the food I ingest and digest. Breakfast, which I’ll down in a few minutes – probably a bowl of fresh baked granola and a scoop of yogurt – will go down and then break down. The chemicals in my digestive system will chop up the oats and almonds into calories and then set them on fire to fuel the bios systems that keep me at 98.6 degrees when it’s -4 degrees outside in Minnesota. Bios burns food fuel to keep alive.

But I also have a different life force in me. In the New Testament the Greek work zoe often means “spiritual life force.” Zoe is the unique energy system I share, not with animals but with beings of another universe parallel, but synchronized with ours. We call those beings “angels” both light and dark. Zoe is the life force of the angelic, and humans, evidently, were created to live in both worlds. We were designed as hybrid creatures, with two engines running on two fuels. When humans rebelled against God our zoe faded and fell. We needed Jesus to come and reignite that power in us. He did.

Now, I feed my bios with hamburgers and milkshakes; I feed zoe with food of another kind. The words God speaks are zoe food. Jesus said, “Humans don’t live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God’s lips.”  God’s words are the food source, the fuel for the alternative life force zoe that burns in me. I need physical food because I have a physical body. That’s well and good. But I also have another kind of life that isn’t nourished by even the richest feast.

Today I’ll be spending the morning studying and then teaching to students some selected sections of the Bible. This is a great honor. I’m like a cook that gets to eat the meal as I go. By examining and then explaining what I know about the texts I have a chance to deliver on a platter some of the words that God gives us to nourish our zoe life. I’m hungry and I need to fill my stomach. But if I confuse one hunger for another, I’m prone to try to feed myself with a food that won’t satisfy. The key, it seems is to stop for a moment and ask, “What do I really want here?” I have a desire, but am I really hungry to feed my bios, or is my hunger deeper?

Many times I eat too much physical food trying to satisfy a hunger driven by my zoe. It’s matter of feeding the right food for the right hunger.

My “Eucharist Diet” adventure is my six month experiment taking daily communion and tracking and posting the results in my personal life, relationships, health, and body fat percentage. Communion is really a kind of “hybrid” meal, the way I myself am a hybrid creature. Taking in the body and blood of Jesus, as wine and bread feeds both my body (the food gets metabolized just like any morsel) and my spirit.

“Lord, thank you that you provide food for every bit of nourishment I need. You give me calories and proteins and the like and you give me spiritual sustenance. Thank you. You satisfy me. You give me enough; you are enough. In Jesus…”  


The Eucharist Diet: Rebounding  

February 2, 2010

Day 31

Weight: 200 lbs

Weight lost: -6 lbs


Just a quick report for anyone still interested: I’m parked at 200 lbs, down from my original 206 lbs. I’m staying true to my experimental discipline. “The Eucharist Diet” adventure is my six month experiment taking daily communion and tracking and posting the results in my personal life, relationships, health, and body fat percentage. I’ll keep you posted…


It’s Groundhog Day and Puxatony Phil saw his shadow this morning. Bad news: we’re facing six more weeks of winter… No surprise, especially for us living in Minnesota where it will probably be more like 12 weeks. I woke this morning to 2 inches of fresh snow. I got my cardio exercise early shoveling our long driveway. It gave me an hour alone to pine for spring and to search, in vane for some kind of spiritual moral in the literal pain of winter.

I grew up in California and when I first moved to Minnesota 16 years ago I really loved winter. It was new and fascinating and wrought with change. But as the years have grown on my I’ve grown exhausted with the relentless assault. Winter hurts, and I’m longing for spring.

Maybe that will be the spiritual lesson I’ll take up today: longing. I’m longing and eager and waiting for a turn of season. I suppose we all are, not so much a physical change, that will come in time, but a transcendent one. We need a fresh shift in the spiritual climate. We need to pray for an awakening of another kind of Spring.

“Lord, we don’t know how long we will have to wait for an awakening of a “spiritual spring” but let it come! Lord, bring a freshness, and a day of new beginnings for us. Bring life and growth and joy and faith and fruitfulness. We admit it, we’re tired of the winter in our souls. Refresh us now. Lord, you are Spring itself. Come. Return, and bring your gifts of rebirth and life again! In Jesus…”


Ari Derfel didn’t throw away his garbage, on purpose. For 12 months the 35 year-old catering company owner stored all his waste inside his Berkley, California apartment. Derfel struck upon the idea after looking for statistics about how much refuse each human produces. Unimpressed with the abstract data, he decided to see for himself – empirically.

The result: a putrid lesson from sacks of flattened metal cans, milk jugs, soiled paper towels, and stacks of newspapers.

The moral: We make a mess. Each of us leaves behind a measurable trash footprint that contributes to the garbage crisis of the planet. This is undeniable.

But just as damaging – we also generate another kind of residue from our moral and immoral choices.  All of us, intentionally or unintentionally make a mess of the world. The white lie I told in 7th grade is still spinning around the universe making a muck of things. And I’m liable. Yes, we all leave a spiritual trash footprint. And of Karma is in any way a accurate way to look at the world, I’m liable for that mess.

What to do? Religions of all sorts devise solutions to our moral culpability. Do any of those solutions actually work? Is there any way to clean up our ethical toxic waste? Is there any place to dump our trash?

Jesus offers a stunning and surprising solution. Explore his way at

Then tell your own story here…

Previous Posts