In Luke 11, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” It’s a good request from a believer and one that many modern Christians have asked. However, I think there is another prayer that believers in the modern church might do well to ask too. It is that our Lord might teach us to play.
Jesus once said that unless a person becomes like a little child, he’ll miss the kingdom of God altogether. Kids play. It’s what they do, fundamental to who they are. At its core, God’s kingdom is a celebration. The kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost . That’s the Bible description of what it is to live in God’s kingdom. Many Christians, however, have become so uptight with life that they wouldn’t know fun if it laughed in their face.
I imagine that there’s a lot of laughing in heaven. In fact, there’s good reason to believe from Scripture that God, Himself, is a good-natured, fun-loving sort of Person. Not the uptight, grouchy, impossible-to-please kind of false gods that man creates. When Jesus Christ said, It is finished, I imagine a smile coming to the face of the Father that hasn’t faded since then.
I once heard someone say, “God is happiest when His children are at play.” I’m inclined to agree with that statement. Too many Christians have been robbed of child-likeness and have been led into a pseudo-maturity that demands that we be serious, as evidenced by eradicating all fun in our lives.
The Bible teaches that a merry heart has the effect of a dose of medicine. It’s like a vitamin that adds vitality to life. Laughter has been proven to shut down the “stress” hormones like cortisol, dopamine, adrenaline, and growth hormone, keeping them at lower healthier levels. These hormones are released when we are uptight, worried, or afraid.
Dr. Patrick Dixon, an English doctor well respected for his creative research wrote:
In the 1992 Journal of the American Medical Association #267, Dr. W. Fry notes that the endorphin protein, a natural morphine-like substance in our bodies, seems to remain constant in laughter, even as the stress hormones are being shut down. Virtually all of us learn to laugh at four months of age, something which requires the action of fifteen facial muscles and changes in breathing. When we laugh, at first the heart rate increases as does our rate of breathing. After our laughter ceases, there is a period of relaxation, easing muscle tension and useful in breaking the muscle spasm in some neuralgias and rheumatism. It has been estimated that 100 good laughs are equivalent to 10 minutes of rowing.
Dr. James Walsh, in his book Laughter & Health, described laughter as a massaging of all the organs within the body. Cumulative laughter throughout the day, says Dr. Fry, may be significantly greater than that of an average marathon. He describes laughter physiologically as an aerobic experience, an internal stationary jogging!
Do you want to have a greater overall sense of well being? One factor that might help is to learn to play. Laugh a lot. Why not? After all, your Abba is in control of every detail in life. He has planned to lead you “from glory to glory” now (2 Corinthians 3:18) and then bring you home later. So, in the meantime, determine to enjoy the journey. Lord, teach us to play!