Every breath is an extraordinary and sacred gift. Without it, we die. That’s what makes breath prayers so powerful. They connect us to God with every breath.
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4
Every breath is an extraordinary and sacred gift. Without it, we die. That’s what makes breath prayers so powerful. They connect us to God with every breath, enriching our bodies, minds, and souls.
Christ in. Self out. More of Him. Less of me.
What started when God breathed the breath of life into Adam continues in each of us every minute of every day that our hearts beat on this spinning, blue planet. At least a dozen times a minute, we repeat this ancient rhythm that began in the Garden of Eden.
Just as God breathed life into us: “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” He breathed it into His Word: “All Scripture is God-breathed.” 2 Timothy 3:16a
Yet how often do we move through our days, months, years, giving no thought to this automatic function of life? The Desert Mothers and Fathers chose this rhythm to teach them how to “pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Their most common prayer was an echo of Luke 18:13: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
With every breath, their hearts and minds were drawn toward Jesus.
Research shows that how we breathe also makes a difference. Breathing deeply:
- lowers heart rate and blood pressure
- calms the sympathetic nervous system
- reduces stress and anxiety
- relieves pain
- improves mood
- improves symptoms of depression
- improves focus
- improves memory
- improves lung function
- increases energy
- reduces tension
- improves heart function
- reduces inflammation
- promotes blood flow
- improves core muscle stability
So many good things tucked into a single function of life!
As we consciously pray a short passage of Scripture with each breath, thoughts settle, breathing slows, pressure drops, expectations wane, stress falls away, tensions fade, heart rates ease, and we are drawn into the Presence of our Creator.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “To pray is to breathe alongside God.”
How fitting to pray the gift of God’s Word to the ancient rhythm of His gift of our life.
HOW TO PRAY WITH EVERY BREATH
- Find a comfortable spot.
- Close your eyes.
- Quiet your thoughts.
- When you’re ready, begin with the first few words of Scripture as you breathe in (ie: “Let the word of Christ …”).
- Complete the verse as you breathe out, (ie: “… dwell in you richly.”). If you are anxious or your body is restless, it might help to add a few simple movements as you breathe:
• Look up and open your hands, surrendering your will, words, thoughts, anxiety, frustration, exhaustion, and sin to Jesus.
• Pull your hands into your chest as you breathe in the first half of your prayer, embracing God and His Word.
• Open and extend your hands as you breathe out the second half of your prayer, worshipping God.
- Focus on each word.
- Begin to feel the rhythm of the words with the rhythm of your breathing.
- Listen for God to speak to you in this place of quiet surrender.
VERSES TO TRY
“My soul finds rest in God alone.” Psalm 62:1a
“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3 CSB
“I cried to my God for help … He heard my voice …” Psalm 18:6
“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9b
“…not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
“Be still, and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10a
“May your unfailing love be my comfort…” Psalm 119:76a
“My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:2
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
“…I cried to the Lord…he answered by setting me free.” Psalm 118:5
“…live by the Spirit…keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
Breathing a prayer to God is a simple way of using your body to engage your mind on the Word of God. Bill Gaultiere
The practice of breath prayers helps you connect more deeply and more intimately with God. Breath prayers are powerful, short prayers said in one breath, often only 5-7 words in length and quietly repeating a phrase for several minutes allowing the words to merge with one’s breathing. The idea is to pick a meaningful phrase and repeat it until it become part of your very being.
Ruth Haley Barton
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Beautifully written meditations on fifteen well-chosen words. Readers are invited to dwell intentionally with single words — remembering their biblical and literary contexts, considering the personal associations they bring up, and allowing them to become a focus for prayer and meditation.
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