Soap and Water
Prayer Pairs #2
How often have we heard someone say something like, ‘all it takes is soap and water’ when referencing cleaning. Perhaps added to it might be the words, ‘with a little bit of elbow grease.’ These appear as simple things; accessing soap and water and applying our own effort.
Soap has been around since at least 2500BC. People have been using soap to clean themselves and their surroundings for thousands of years. Which begs the question that if soap has been around for so many thousands of years and has the power to prevent infectious illnesses and diseases, how come we still face these threats today? Can we blame education, access, or the lack of willingness of people to engage in using soap and water?
I’m taking a guess that access to soap and clean water isn’t an issue to subscribers of 5 Senses to Prayer, but it is a problem to many. What we most likely take for granted is scarce in parts of the world. Access to clean water is an increasingly worsening global problem and predictions are that by 2030 700 million people worldwide will not have access to clean water.
At the start of the covid pandemic, before we had fully understood the airborne nature of covid, soap became something of a worldwide hero. Long before we embraced masks, hand hygiene was top of the list of personal preventative measures. There were many articles written on how soap works to prevent the spread of infection and videos made on how to correctly wash hands. The spotlight was on soap and we sat up and took notice.
At the molecular level, soap breaks things apart. At the level of society, it helps hold everything together.
Water and soap or soap and water? In our prayer pairs, we’re looking at these two things working together. Here’s the thing with this pair, while you can rinse your hands with water and achieve some success with cleaning off visible grime, soap requires water to activate it to remove all the invisible bacteria. It’s not soap or water, it’s soap and water. We need access to both. But access is not enough. We also need to both want and to know how to use soap and water. Soap sitting next to a sink filled with water will not clean our hands. We need to use them together for them to be effective. Soap and water.
Jesus talks about water a whole lot in the gospels. It’s not just talk either; he is all about interacting with water. He is baptised in water, he turns water to wine, he drinks water from a well, he calms water, he walks on water. He calls himself the water for life.
On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and shouted, “If you are thirsty, come to me and drink! Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you, just as the Scriptures say.” Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, who would be given to everyone that had faith in him. The Spirit had not yet been given to anyone, since Jesus had not yet been given his full glory.
John 7:37-39 (CEV)
Soap and water. I’ve been playing with this imagery in my head. I’ve been thinking of how soap has all these amazing properties, which have been used for thousands of years. Science might have only more recently defined how soap actually works and what happens on a molecular level, but users of soap have known that soap works when activated with water.
We may have inspiration and ideas on how we can live better lives, how we can care for others, how we can take responsibility for the environment, how we can change our thoughts, our words, our behaviours, how we can live out God’s purpose for our lives. These might all be great thoughts, maybe world-changing ideas or life-changing inspiration, but like soap, unless they’re activiated by water, they’re not effective. To activate our own soap we need some of that life giving water that flows from deep inside us. We need the water of life. We need God’s Spirit.
Our prayers this week use soap and water. With a likely abundance of opportunities to use soap and water this week I hope these prayers are something you can use again and again. I’d love to hear of any experiential prayers you create based on soap and water.
May you experience the flow of life giving water in your week ahead.
On the journey