Holy Habits: Breath Prayer

Last week, we began a new series in worship called The Lord’s Prayer: Praying Like Jesus. This series will focus on Jesus teaching on prayer following the model of the Lord’s Prayer he provided in Matthew and Luke’s gospel. Prayer is a critical element to our spiritual formation, yet so many people struggle with how to pray. One of the struggles you may have is how often should I pray?

In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes that we should “pray continually,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I am sure Paul did not envision that we would be on our knees in prayer 24 hours a day. So how can we pray continually? One way to pray continually is through a holy habit of breath prayers.This prayer does not come primarily from the mind, but from the depths of our desire and need. Breath prayers do not replace other forms of prayer, rather it is foundational to our whole prayer life, supporting it and making it possible for us to “pray continually.” A breath prayer is to the spiritual life what oxygen and the pulmonary system are to life in the body – a way for us to breathe rhythmically and reflexively with the Spirit – the breath of God.

Here’s how it works:

  • Remove yourself from the noise and distraction and spend time alone listening for God.
  • Ask yourself, what do I want from God? What are my deepest desires or greatest needs? Maybe it’s a phrase, a word, a phrase from a biblical prayer or prayer of the church (6-8 syllables). Find your phrase. “God, what I most want from you right now is…”
  • Choose your favorite name or image for God – God, Jesus, Father, Creator, Spirit, Breath of Life, Lord, Shepherd. “My most meaningful name for God is…”
  • Combine your name for God with the expression of your heart’s desire. Place it where it is easiest to say in the rhythm of your breathing

Pray this prayer into the spaces of your day – when you are waiting, worried and anxious, needing some sense of God’s presence, etc. Learn to pray it underneath and throughout all the thoughts and words that swirl around through your daily interactions. As your desires and needs change (or as God reveals another prayer to you), change your prayer.

If you want to learn more about breath prayer, or would like to try this new habit, we will be using breath prayers at our Wednesday night prayer meeting next Wednesday at 5:00 PM. I invite you to come and join us in prayer.

Have a great weekend and I look forward to being with you in worship on Sunday at 8:45 and 11:00!

Praying for you,
Matt

P.S. This Sunday is our Preschool Celebration Sunday and it is going to be AMAZING! We have families from our preschool who will be worshiping with us at 11:00, the kids will be singing in worship, Lois Hylton (our preschool director) will be in both services to share about what’s happening in our preschool, and we will celebrate together all God is doing in the preschool. I hope you will plan to be with us on Sunday morning. You do not want to miss these children!