Your Spiritual Patellar Reflex

If you’ve ever been to a doctor’s office, you have probably experienced the patellar reflex test. It might be better known as the “knee-jerk reaction.” This is when the doctor taps your knee just below the kneecap to test your body’s involuntary response. How you respond (or don’t respond) tells the doctor a lot about your nervous system’s health.

Did you know that we have a spiritual patellar reflex too?

Consider this verse—

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

How you respond spiritually to stressful things says a lot about your spiritual knee-jerk reflex.

We see this spiritual knee-jerk reflex in the well-known story of Daniel in the lion’s den. Some of the guys who were jealous of Daniel trick the king into passing a law that forbids everyone from praying to anyone other than the king. Look at Daniel’s spiritual knee-jerk reflex:

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10)

Daniel’s knee-jerk reaction was to hit his knees in prayer!

This is because hitting his knees in prayer was a spiritual habit for Daniel. Check out this key phrase: he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. The verb tense here is one that means unbroken continuity. In other words, Daniel always prayed, so when anxious times came his spiritual knee-jerk reflex was to do what he always did: Pray, giving thanks to God.

It’s this lifestyle that prompted me to coin the word givingthanksgiving. Giving thanks shouldn’t just be on Thanksgiving Day. It should be a regular activity. And if it is, hitting our knees in prayer will become our spiritual knee-jerk reflex as well.

I want to do better at living this way. I want to pass the spiritual knee-jerk reflex test just like Daniel did. How about you?

(This coming Sunday, November 18, I’ll be sharing part 2 in our givingthanksgiving series. I hope you can join me.)

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