Have you had your daily fix today?
No, I am not turning into a drug addict. The English language, like most language, has a wealth of words with double meanings. There are even some with three or more possible meaning, and there is one word that holds the record for having the most meanings: 50! But today, I’m thinking about just a few of the meanings of that little word: “fix”.
For a drug users, a fix is a dose of the drug. It makes them feel better by alleviating the discomfort caused by withdrawal symptoms. If you have had any exposure to modern western culture, you almost certainly have a vivid image in your mind of a sweating, dishevelled person with bulging bloodshot eyes, nervously manipulating a needle into an arm vein with shaking fingers, then falling back in relief as the drug begins to kick in.
Drugs of addiction control a person not just through their chemical effects, but also through their psychological effects. An addict can become free of the chemical need for the drug in a relatively short time. Depending on the drug, it might take anything from a few days to a few weeks. During that time, withdrawal symptoms can be horribly uncomfortable, but at the end, the body is freed of the need for the drug. The reason an addict will relapse into their addiction after they have been physically freed, is that the psychological need that led to the addiction has not yet been dealt with. A smoker who can go for seven days without a cigarette is free of the physical nicotine addiction. But there still remain the sense of security a cigarette can give, the way it occupies the fingers and the mouth, and the easy escape it promises from stress. All of these are in the mind, not the body.
Interestingly, for some people prayer can become something of an addiction. Not everyone who prays, prays for the right reasons or in the right manner. The act of praying can degenerate into nothing more than a security blanket, a tick in the box of the conscience that says, “you’ve done your duty, you’ve paid God His dues”. If you miss a prayer, you feel guilty; not because you actually miss being in God’s company, but because you feel that you’ve spoiled your record. And when you do pray, you feel a sense of relief that God is not going to punish you now for being negligent. Thus, prayer loses its positive effects upon you and becomes a thing that does nothing more than alleviate your ‘withdrawal symptoms’.
I think prayer SHOULD be a fix; but in a different sense. Prayer is something by which you get a fix on things. A person who is lost uses a compass and a map to get a fix on where he is in the world. Nowadays, we don’t even have to do the geometry – your GPS will do it for you! Prayer should be a spiritual GPS (God’s Positioning System?). It allows you to step back from the maelstrom of life and see the bigger picture, to get your bearings, to see things through God’s eyes as it were. Suddenly, problems are put into perspective. Wrong turns are retraced and you are set back on the right track again. By being in God’s presence, you see more clearly where you really are and who you really are, and you can proceed from that point in your life accordingly, with a different approach.
Prayer is also a time not only to get a fix, but to fixate. A fixate is where you firmly fix your attention and your thought exclusively upon one object, and one object only. In prayer, draw your attention away from the many clamouring distractions of daily living and focus it, fixate it on One alone. How lovely are the words in the Monday Psalia:
Gather within me
All my senses
In order to praise and to glorify
My Lord Jesus
PS If you are dying to find out which English word can mean 50 different things, go to http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_word_has_the_most_meanings_in_the_english_language_Hint_It_is_a_3_letter_word