Jason B. Ladd

Ask the Questions. Embrace the Answers. Make the Leap.

How Long Can You Live Without Water?


How long can you live without water? I asked this question several years ago while caught up in a moment of fitness zeal. During one of my cyclical attempts to adopt a new food lifestyle to compliment a new workout routine, I read a book called Your Body’s Many Cries For Water by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj.

Along with physical activity, nutrition, and sleep, I learned about one of the most important ingredients to staying healthy:

  • Hydration

Hungry, or Thirsty?

We all know that we can’t live without water. We can only survive a few days without water in extreme conditions. During some special forces training, candidates can fail an exercise for becoming dehydrated, and if I’m dehydrated before a flight, I can’t fight a good jet.

But you also can’t live well without water. Sometimes we don’t remember how badly our body needs water until we are desperately thirsty. Dr. Batmanghelidj explains how one of our body’s adaptive processes allows us to confuse thirst with hunger, leading to one of the main contributors to obesity and other health problems:

They seem to respond to both calls–thirst and hunger–as if they are only hungry. They begin to eat until the thirst sensation gathers greater strength as a result of the additional load of solid food within the system, and only then do they drink some water. This type of thirst satisfaction is not enough for the urgent needs of the body, but is just enough to fall inside the body’s limit of temporary adaptation to water shortage.1

In other words, failing to realize we are thirsty causes problems.

Another Thirst

As our body thirsts for water, our souls thirst for God. Failing to recognize this thirst causes problems, too.

But God offers us different water–living water–whereupon drinking of it we will never be thirsty again.

How long can we live without living water? It’s kind of a trick question: we’re not really living–at least not as we were intended to live. As we are dead without water, without living water we are dead in our sins.

But our bodies tell us when it needs water, and Dr. Batmanghelidj lists several perceptive feelings he believes signal dehydration:

  • Feeling tired without a plausible reason
  • Feeling flushed
  • Feeling irritable and unreasonably short-tempered
  • Feeling anxious
  • Feeling dejected and inadquate
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling heavy-headed
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Anger and quick temper
  • Unreasonable impatience
  • Short attention span
  • Shortness of breath in an otherwise healthy person
  • Cravings for manufactured beverages such as coffee, tea, sodas, and alcoholic drinks
  • Dreaming of oceans, rivers, or other bodies of water2

You might be surprised to learn that a “dry mouth” is one of the last signs of dehydration. If we were made of water, and created from water, then it seems natural for us to need water and crave water. If we are also made of a soul infused into us by a volitional, infinite being with which we can have a relationship, then it is also natural for us to need and crave that relationship.

Our souls give us signals that we are not complete:

  • Our desire for relationship
  • Our pursuit of the infinite
  • Our feeling of incompleteness
  • Our longing for ultimate justice
  • Our search for peace

God uses water analogies in the Bible to illustrate our need for he offers.

The Rich Man Cries for Water

We have been given a window of time to establish this relationship: the span of our life on earth.

In Luke Chapter 16, Lazarus, a poor beggar, dies and goes to heaven to be with the great patriarch Abraham. A rich man ends up in hell and begs for just a drop of water from the tip of Lazarus’ finger. The rich man is told it is too late; all he can do is plead that his family be warned to avoid a similar fate.

Water is of no use to our body when we are dead. We can only accept the living water while we are alive.

King David cries for Water

In Samuel Chapter 2, King David is hunkered down from the Philistines in a cave in Abdullah and yearns for a cup of water a familiar well at Bethlehem. Three of his greatest men overhear his wish and infiltrate enemy lines to retrieve the water. When David learns of their dangerous mission, he pours the water on the ground in a poignant display of leadership:

“Far be it from me, O Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?”

He could not drink the prize of men who risked their lives while he offered nothing but to quench his own thirst. David recognized the importance of a principle over his own comfort. Water is important, but living water is more important.

Water Offered From the Throne

In the book of Revelation, John describes a new heaven and a new earth. He records the one seated on the throne as saying:

“It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life” (Revelation 21:6, NIV).

He offered the same living water offered to the woman at the well in Samaria.

Failing to realize we need living water causes problems. You’re not hungry; you’re thirsty. No matter how much of the world you eat up, your soul will never be full. You will become bloated with the fads of the day and the false promises of the New Spirituality. You will stay sick.

How long can you live without water? It depends. How long can you live without living water? You’re not. How can you receive this living water? Investigate the person of Jesus Christ. In him you may find something you weren’t looking for, and never knew you needed–a life and a future you never imagined.

Is this world tasting a little dry?

Photo credit: Foter / Public Domain Mark 1.0

Related Briefs

1 F. Batmanghelidj, You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty! Water for Health, for Healing, for Life (New York: Warner Books, Inc., 2003), Kindle ed., loc. 663.
2 Ibid., loc. 738-812.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers or will assist them in establishing a coherent worldview. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About Jason B. Ladd

Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.

11 Replies

  1. Chris

    Great article, Jason!

  2. Cassandra Thomas

    Dear Jason,
    I would have never found your blog had you not liked my post today. THANK YOU!

    It seems we have a bit in common: the military, PCS’ing, multiple children, a long-standing marriage and faith in Jesus Christ.

    I very much look forward to future posts!

    1. Cassandra, Glad to find your site as well! Good luck on your mission; it is important.

  3. topazo

    wow…very nice post. enlightening and refreshing. happy easter!

    1. Thanks for reading. Happy Easter to you as well.

  4. Elaine

    Really great post Jason! I Am in total agreement with the info you posted on water. I have been following a regimen of drinking 64 oz of water pretty much every day for over a year now and it has made a big difference in how I feel and with significant weight loss I have purposely been working at as well!

  5. Great analogy!

    I recently read an article that discussed the dangers of drinking too much water, especially tap water which is often devoid of some of the things our bodies need, like electrolytes and minerals. I’m so glad God’s Word has what is needed to stay spiritually healthy, and I am also blessed by extra-biblical writings like your post that refresh as well.

  6. How could I ever have seen the importance of water from all of these perspectives, without such an awesome and well researched post?
    I love the rich scriptural references.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. I’m glad you liked it. Thanks for the compliment!